The Trials of Self-Publishing

“For all we know he was her killer,” Glenda replied softly.

“Yep, that is true. Glenda, where’s all this leading? What would we do if we did find this guy?”

Chapter 9, Eye of the Magpie

As the Queen of Formatting, I have to admit it was a daunting process to upload my book to Amazon. I had taken an intense self-publishing course through our local library that helped me tremendously. AND it still took me almost two months to upload my book.   :^(

The first hurdle was errors in my manuscript. I click through all of them. Some are typos in dialogue, and I tell the reviewer to ignore them. If I remember right, I think I had two actual spelling mistakes, and I think that is pretty darn good. I correct and then reload my document. That Folks, takes maybe an hour of time. The rest of the saga involves my struggles with the book cover. It is a bit of a comedy of errors.

The lovely Joelle Johnson, of Saskatoon fame, did a beautiful piece of artwork for me for my cover. In the top left-hand corner there is an angry magpie, coming in for a landing. Below it we see, through a rifle scope, our two intrepid sleuths, engaged in conversation. There is a red wash over the whole page, some dripping down menacingly towards the women.

Neither Joelle nor I had ever created a book cover before. My first realization was that the format of the picture was wrong. The watercolour is a slight rectangle, closer to a square. A standard book cover is six inches by nine inches, a taller rectangle.

I have never mastered a graphic software like Photoshop; I have used simple, free-ones successfully that I have found on the web in the past, to resize a picture or take out red eye. I thought it would be easy enough to do some photo editing, say with cropping. Not so fast.

Programs that I used in the past were no longer available. I did a bit of research and found GIMP 2.10. It is not simple. It has a lot of icons that I haven’t got a clue what they mean or what they do. But it is free. I spend a day or two experimenting with various buttons and perusing their online manual and finally come up with this:


Then I upload my book cover to Amazon, fill in a bunch of boxes, find out I need a TIN number for US taxation purposes, contact another Canadian author who goes Huh?, Contact my accountant, who knows exactly what I am talking about and informs me no, I don’t need a TIN. figure out a way for Amazon to pay me, and my e-Book is uploaded. But … Amazon takes 72 hours to review it before it finally pops up in their store.

That was mid-June.

Now I move over to a site called CreateSpace to convert my book into a paperback. This involves re-formatting my manuscript. And that takes the better part of a day and a half. Then I move onto the book cover.

If you have artwork, they provide a simple, easy-to-use cover creator and offer several templates for different book cover designs. I choose one on page two and start to fill in the boxes, adjust font and colours and come up with something I like. Only the front of the book has any colour, the back, where I put my author bio, is white. I am only about seventy-five percent happy with this. I wait a day while they review it and I brood on it. (I still haven’t clued in that there is at least one twenty-four hour wait period between every step taken in this process.)

The thing to know about me and brooding is that I have IBS. This never works in a positive way. The IBS flares up and I spend a lot of time in the washroom and I am wiped the next day. I pick up a book and start reading it.

I come to the conclusion that I’ve made a horrible mistake in choosing a glossy book cover. The paperback I am reading has a matte cover. I walk around the house looking at other paperbacks stowed here and there. They all have matte covers. I need to change my cover to matte.

Although now, technically, my book is ready to upload to Amazon, I go back to the Create Space Cover Template and attempt to change my cover to matte. Because I made a change to my cover, I must wait another 24 hours for my cover to be reviewed.

I go outside and whack away at weeds. It soothes my frustrations and keeps me out of the bathroom.

For some reason, after making a change and waiting a day for it to be reviewed, I end up with the same cover, in glossy. I email CreateSpace. It takes another day for them to respond to my email. They send back a form email that outlines the steps through their cover template. I sigh. This is not helpful at all.

I go back to the cover and try to start over. I choose matte. I go through the templates again. Whoa, there are more than two pages, there are five pages of templates. Who knew? I choose a different template, one that works better for my novel. I go through all the steps, uploading my artwork and bio and changing fonts and colours. I am fairly happy with this cover and can’t wait for the twenty-four hours to pass so that I can see it with my manuscript. As I hit the last button to send it for review up pops my old cover, in a glossy finish. I am devastated.

It’s going to take a day for a review, and if I send an email to question what happened, it is also going to take twenty-four hours to get a reply. I telephone them. I am surprised to get a return call almost immediately. A very pleasant woman, in a very sympathetic voice, lets me know that there is nothing they can do at their end to terminate the review process; I have to wait another day and start over. The weeds are in for a bad time.

Once again, it is a clear, beautiful summer morning. I sit at my computer, log on to CreateSpace and go through the template one more time. Everything looks good. I realize that on Saturday morning my book will be ready to move over to Amazon.

We, however, go away on a mini holiday to celebrate our son’s birthday. It is now almost mid-July. Returning home on Monday I read an email from CreateSpace telling me that my book cover is ready. Yes! Today is the day that I finally publish my book. I happily hit the button to do just that. And I get a message that my book will now undergo a review that will take 72 hours! And, as per usual, I will be notified by email once the process is complete. I am devastated once again.

I go whack more weeds. Although I have pretty much given up drinking, I have a stiff drink with dinner. I go to bed worrying that this %!!#?!! book is never going to get published. I start perusing writer’s boards to see if others have experienced the same thing. It looks like only successful writers, people who can upload a book in an hour and have sales in the thousands, are posting. I am feeling very alone, dejected, and facing a huge hurdle that I must conquer. I am not expecting hordes to beat down the doors to find my novel. At this stage, I’ll be happy to just present it to the world for all to see.

Seventy-two hours go by and I begin uploading my CreateSpace paperback to Amazon. There are delays while files load and are processed and finally I can preview my book. I finally get to the ‘Publish My Book’ button and excitedly click it. I am ready to do the ‘My book is launched’ dance.

No, no, not so fast. Amazon is now going to review my book and I must wait another 72 hours.

Groan. I have an incredibly weedy yard. I go out and whack even more of them into submission.

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