Self-Publishing Journey: Part One

If you’ve been around this blog for any amount of time, you might know that I published a book back in May. It’s a journaling devotional designed to help you dig deeper with God though journaling. I self-published my book and today I’m going to be talking about that process. 

Before I even wrote my book, I knew I was going to self-publish. Maybe it’s because I’m such a DIY’er but I wanted the control that self-publishing allowed me to have. I enjoyed designing my cover and doing it myself. I even enjoyed the hours, weeks and months of research that went into learning how to self-publish. Choosing to self-publish gave me the ability to write the book I wanted to write, regardless of whether or not someone else thought there would be a market for it. Since I’ve published and all the explaining I’ve done about what a journaling devotional is, I’m guessing a publisher would have told me that the market for that didn’t exist. I don’t even know if it does now. I’ve sold my book though so somebody is interested. 

So how did I finally get there? How did I get to publish my book? Well, first, I researched all my options. I went to a workshop about self-publishing at a book festival I was at. That workshop was helpful and taught me a few things but it was mostly a self-publishing workshop to get you to use a certain company for your self-publishing needs. I don’t remember the company, although I almost wish I did because it would have been nice to have someone to help me when I hit a few bumps along the way. I had google though. One thing that really helped me was Jenna Moreci’s video on Createspace VS IngramSpark which you can find here. It’s worth noting that CreateSpace was Amazon’s publishing before it changed to KDP. 

After this video and reading all the articles I read, I decided I was going to use IngramSpark to publish my book. At least that was my plan. If my life were to have a motto though, it would be how the best of my plans still get messy or how they never go as planned. Launching my podcast would be a great example of this. I digress. 

I finally finished editing my book. I was doing the cover. I was ready to upload and set up my publish date because I had already announced it. I was talking about it for weeks and I had the perfect plan to publish on my birthday. So I’m uploading and using IngramSpark and doing all the right things, checking the boxes until I get to the part about ISBN numbers. Uhm. What is that? ISBN numbers is basically your book ID. It’s a number that is assigned to your book and when it is searched up, only your book pops up. IngramSpark didn’t give your book ISBN numbers and it doesn’t come as part of the plans they offer for publishing. You have to buy your own ISBN. Figuring out that process was relatively easily. A quick Google search told me everything I needed to know about how and where to grab myself an ISBN number. 

This is where all my plans got messy. ISBN numbers are not cheap. The US seller for ISBN numbers offer 1 at like $100+ dollars and the deal is getting 10 ISBN numbers (for future books) for like $100-ish dollars more than the price of one. Obviously the deal is in getting the 10 ISBN numbers. Well, since this was a sudden hiccup and something I wasn’t anticipating, I didn’t have the money to even buy one ISBN. It wasn’t budgeted. I didn’t want to push back my publish date though because I already made it public. 

That is when I switched to Amazon’s KDP. When publishing through Amazon, they give you what they call an ASIN, which is an Amazon identifier for your book to show that you published through Amazon. While this probably isn’t ideal for most people, I don’t like going back on something when I say it. Since I wanted my book available on Amazon anyway, I didn’t see an issue of just switching how I published it. Also, publishing through Amazon, I can edit and update my book however often I need to and it doesn’t cost me anything.

Now that I’ve officially published my book though Amazon, I haven’t had a negative experience with Amazon. Amazon’s KDP is very simple to understand. The reports are a little hard to understand sometimes but they are pushing out a new report system and I have been checking it out and I really like it. The only con I’ve found is that  getting my book in real places, outside of the online world, is harder. I’m learning the literary world isn’t a huge fan of Amazon publishing. However, when I have resources available to me. I’m going to use them. 

This is probably going to be part one of a two part series. The next part I’ll probably talk more about designing my cover and the funner parts of publishing. At least, what I consider funner. More fun. The more fun parts of publishing. Yeah, that sounds better. 

Birthday Party & Book Launch

Back in May I celebrated my 28th birthday. Normally, I want to make a big deal out of my birthday. I want to plan an awesome party, have all my friends over and do all the cool birthday things. Every single time, once April turns to May, I give up on the birthday party deal and decide we aren’t going to make a big deal about my birthday. Which, in all honestly, makes me feel sad about my birthday. I want to make a big deal and have a party and invite all my friends. It doesn’t need to be a huge deal, but a deal would be fine. Ya know? I just give up because I’m always afraid of being disappointed or upset. The song “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want to” comes to mind. My memory tells me I’ve had a few birthdays where I’ve cried and I don’t want to re-create that feeling. Although, I cannot remember what made me cry in the past. 

This year was different though because I was also publishing my book on my birthday. Once I learned my birthday fell on a Tuesday, I pushed my original plan to publish in March to my birthday because traditionally published books get published on Tuesday. This might not be the 100% rule but most, if not all, the books I’ve followed or pre-ordered or got on the day they published, have been on Tuesdays. Now, even though I was self-publishing I didn’t see why I couldn’t publish on Tuesday and heck yes, publish on my birthday! 

I wanted to celebrate both of these things. Writing a book is not easy. Any writer will tell you that. I’ll tell you that too, just in case. The whole writing process is deep and I left my heart on the pages of that book. Since I self-published, I was also in charge of all the formatting, design and planning of everything that came after the writing part of my book. (This is not a complaint. I loved the process, but I’ll write about that at a different time.) Producing a book from start to finish that I loved and was proud of was a huge accomplishment and I deserved to celebrate it too. Now, I knew that I was going to most likely tell myself I don’t need a birthday party this year like I always do. I was also wanting a book launch party but I already felt myself debating on whether or not it mattered. 

IT MATTERS. It matters so much. I should be celebrating accomplishments even if that accomplishment is getting from May of last year to May of this year. The crazy thing is, I want to celebrate the things my family does. Husband got a promotion or military award? Celebration time! Little Man scored a goal in soccer? Special lunch time! I want to celebrate all the things, big and small, for my family but then I go and act like the things I do don’t matter. Friends, I’m starting to force myself to believe they matter. I’m so used to making myself smaller. I’m a loud person and I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to not be too loud to those around me. I’m too much and I was trying to not be too much.  So the things I do were not big deals, which might be why I am so quick to cancel making birthday plans. I made a big deal about something once, and I heard about what a big deal I made it (my 18th birthday) from everybody around me. I didn’t know if they were complaining but it made me feel like I was ridiculous. 

It’s not ridiculous to celebrate things. It’s okay to want to celebrate yourself and your own accomplishments. In my house, I’m the party planner. I even went to school for it and have been professionally trained. In my house I do the parties and events. It always sounded odd to me to plan parties for myself. However, I’ve learned that planning parties is just not in my husband’s wheelhouse. He tried to plan a surprise party for me once and it was not the greatest. He tried so hard. I figured it out and once I got back to my apartment, we planned out a dinner out on the Strip. It was fun but I have a strength in party/event planning and my husband does not. So celebrations fall on me and that is okay. I struggled to do things for myself to celebrate though because the thought of doing a party for myself seemed prideful. (It’s not. Celebrating with people who are proud of you and love you is not prideful. You are not shoving your success down someone’s throat or even gloating. I say that for myself really and maybe someone else needs to hear it. Just because I plan the logistics, because it is in my wheelhouse, doesn’t take away from the joy of celebration. I just thought it did because fear. It always boils down to fear. Friends, in the words of Zach William’s- Fear is a liar. 

This year, I threw away that fear. I combined my birthday and book launch wants and gave myself a vintage library themed birthday party & book launch. We played a game I found on interest. I had ice cream cake and a candy bar because I’m five at heart. I had a bookmark making station where my best friend made me a beautiful bookmark that I’m using in all the books I am currently reading. I had my book on display and my friends bough a copy and then had me sign it. (That was surreal.) I had a blast. I celebrated my book and my birthday with people who loved me and were happy to celebrate with me.

Now I am challenging myself to celebrate all the things. Not just stuff for my husband and my son but for me too. Life is meant to be celebrated.