Monday, July 27, 2015

I Finally Understand

So anyone who has looked into self-publishing knows that if you want to do it right, there's some costs involved. Actually, there's a lot of them. It can add up.

What, you ask? I thought places like CreateSpace were free?

That's not the costs I mean. Here's the rundown:

Cover Art: $150 - $1000 depending on the artist you use. I did actually see someone offering a full package (print and electronic covers + promotional images) for $2500. I have never clicked the "Back" button so fast.

Editing: Average for copy and content editing is around $0.03 per word. If you have a novel of average length (75,000 - 80,000 words), that's a couple grand right there. Those packages for $200 - $500 they advertise online? Yeah, read the fine print. That's only for about 5,000 words or so.

And the one that got me:

Formatting, generally around $75 - $100 for eBooks, $199 and up for print formatting.

Now some of this you shouldn't really scrimp on. A good looking cover can make or break your book, so I'm okay with spending some money there. Editing is also a must, but I am so meticulous about rereading the drafts I finish and have enough friends who read a lot that are willing to give input that I can generally cut that to a bare minimum. Formatting was the one that I couldn't understand. Why would someone willing fork out that much money for something they could do so easily?

So I downloaded the templates from CreateSpace for interior formatting design and decided to try practicing by applying it to some older works I'm not looking at publishing right now. After a day and a half of playing with it, I can honestly say I finally get it.

I have never experienced such a miserable exercise in tediousness in all my life. I figured it would be as easy as "Select All, copy, paste, done." Yeah, not so much. You go chapter by chapter with the copy and paste. Then you have to make sure you selected the option to paste that stripped out all existing formatting. Then you have to check over each pasted chapter to correct things like titles that need to be italicized, stylistic alignments that did not transfer properly (if it was center-aligned in the original document, it ends up in some weird alignment in the template that isn't paragraph indented, nor is it justified with the rest of the document), and proper segment breaks within the chapter (in drafts, I use three asterisks  (***) to denote this, but it looks bad in formatting, so I use two paragraph breaks). And even then it may or may not look like you want it to.

So I get it now. The people who do this are well within their rights to charge a couple hundred bucks for it, and if I had the money I would happily pay it. Of course, I don't, so I get to play around with it until I get it right. I know I'll master it eventually, with enough practice.

And if you want me to do it for you sometime, don't be surprised when I hand you a bill.

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