I first started thinking about publishing my poetry around a year ago. There had been people asking if I would for awhile, but I always made an excuse. “I don’t have the time.” “I didn’t go to school for that.” “I’m not good enough to publish. This is just a hobby.” But, along the way, I’ve met some amazing and supportive folks who encouraged me to stop seeing my writing as just something to pass the time. So, I decided I would go for it.
The first step was going back through all my words. I read stuff that I’ve written over the years, stuff dating back to high school, and it wasn’t all pretty. In fact, some of it was really bad! Others left me drained, because all those emotions I felt when writing the piece would come rushing back. It was a daunting task. I spent a few months wading through every poem, every story, every little quote and jotted note. I sorted everything into categories. I suppose my obsessive need to organize things came in handy there. I had already decided what I wanted for the title, so I began collecting things for that. I spent another few months re-typing everything into a word document, re-visiting and revising older poems, and writing new ones. I knew I would be self-publishing, so I created an account on CreateSpace. Due to social media, I’d met Christina Strigas and Alfa Holden, two awesome poets. They’d advised me to publish through Ingram Sparks too, if I ever wanted bookstores to be able to sell my book. I got lucky meeting them, because so many writers don’t realize the downside of using only CreateSpace.
After setting my titles up on both sites, I started piecing the book together. I did all of the setup myself, as I couldn’t really afford the extra money it would take to pay someone else. Luckily, I have amazing friends who helped me edit and proofread (thanks Alfa and Matt!). The art was trickier. I’m in no way artistically inclined. I had originally asked an old friend to do it, but that fell through and my timeline for publishing got pushed back. I think that was an important lesson for me. For future books, I’ll get the art nailed down a lot earlier in the process. I did find a wonderful artist though, and she created exactly what I wanted for the cover. With the interior art, I decided to do that myself. I searched various databases for vector graphics and art that was both free and fit with my aesthetic. I personally selected fonts to match my social media. I was pretty picky about making it look a certain way, but I think when you’re self-publishing, you have to be picky. Amazon will not accept a lot of things. The art has to be a certain dpi. The margins and art have to be formatted a certain way. It’s much harder than it seems. So, I take pride in having done it all myself. Some people will also hire cover designers to create their cover or build it. CreateSpace allows you to use their templates or upload your own cover. I chose to build my own and upload it. I was not easy, and it was definitely time consuming. It took awhile, but I was thrilled with the final result.
After several lengthy conversations where I picked Alfa’s brain, I was finally ready to hit publish. I was fortunate to have her to answer questions, because it’s a pretty confusing set up. You’ve got pricing decisions and material decisions and distribution options. And, it’s not instantaneous. In my head, I thought I’d submit the stuff, and they would be, “ok, great, you’re done.” But, no. They take awhile to inspect it, then they spit out issues that you’ve gotta go back and fix. When you finally hit publish, it doesn’t immediately show up on Amazon either. I think that’s the one bit of advice I’d remind others – with CreateSpace, it takes time for your book to show up. With IngramSparks, it can take even longer. So, be prepared for that. Don’t tell people it’ll be out on day X unless you hit publish before that. Otherwise, it may not be there.
In the end, I’m proud of the result. It makes me happy to search my name and see my book pop up. It’s cool hearing people say that they relate to my words, or that they love the look and feel of the book. Nothing can beat that feeling.
Author of Love, Lies and Lullabies