Creating a book, producing it, and selling it seemed an overwhelming task as I began to work on my e-book and print book 50 Secrets for Growing a Successful Frugal Business. Now that I’m nearing the end of this process, I want to share it with you. This first case study describes how I figured out how to get the book ready for advanced readers (I call them my “Preview Team.”)
This is the first of two articles about the self-publishing process. It describes the process up to creating advanced reader copies (ARC copies).
The self-publishing process, it seems to me, is like a board game. You have to figure out how to make your way through it without getting sent to “jail,” or losing all your money. The first time is tricky, but you learn as you go, and each time you play, it gets easier.
I’m not saying I figured out the whole process, but I have a better place to start the next time, to make the game go faster, and with less stress and money.
Principles for the Self-Publishing Process
Because I’m committed to the Frugal Business principles for business success, I used several of these principles as guidelines for how I made the various decisions in the process.
Saving money. Of course. I focused on saving money as much as possible by doing most of these tasks myself.
DIY vs Hire. My second objective was to work through the process as much as possible by myself so I could determine which tasks I should do by myself and which I should hand off to an expert. Experts cost more money, but they also save my time.
My goal is to get as much as possible either automated or to have experts do it, so I can have more time to focus on my blogging and book writing.
Simplify. I’m always looking toward the simplest process, the simplest way to do things. So much on the internet is way more complicated than it should be. The simple way will always save you time and money, and it’s easier to control. That is, you don’t have to tinker with it to make it works. Many apps and plug-ins, for example, are great, but they are complicated, and they don’t work well. I’m always looking for a way to avoid an app or plug-in when I can.
Creating Rules of Thumb. A rule of thumb is a process or procedure or decision aid. For example, I have a rule of thumb for the process of creating a blog post, so I don’t forget anything.
Principle of Abundance and Taking the Straight and Narrow. The principle of Abundance says, “There’s enough for everyone,” and I believe in not going cheap if it causes problems with a business relationship. I also believe in not cutting corners or doing things unethically or illegally.
On to the Self-Publishing Process
First, I have to say that everyone does this differently. It’s a trial-and-error thing. What I’m telling you seems to be a good plan for me as I tried to figure out how to create the book and get it to previewers.
Creating the book.
I have used Scrivener for several years for my book creation process. I like its visual appeal, it’s simple to work with, and I can move sections around easily. I have a book template set up so it’s easy to start on another book.
As you can see from the example on the right, I can color-code sections so I can see easily which I have completed and which need more work.
When I’m done with the Scrivener file, I save it as a .txt file and send it to my editor.
Cost:$0 (I already own Scrivener).
Editing the book.
The most time-consuming part of the process for this first book was figuring out how to copy edit the book and get it into a publishable format.
Cost: $500 for my editor (Eileen Behr), including copy editing and formatting the document. We spent a lot of this time working on a template. Now that we have it, and I know it works, Eileen can do the work quickly, focusing on copy editing for future books.
Converting the book for beta readers.
Another terribly time-consuming, error-ridden part of the self-publishing process is figuring out how to get the book to my Preview Team. My first attempt was trying to use Calibre for uploading and combining files.
For the PDF, I tried using Adobe Acrobat DC to combine the cover image and the manuscript into one PDF. Several hours, several calls to Adobe and a call to Apple, I decided it wasn’t going to work.I just didn’t find a process I was happy with that didn’t involve way too much of my time.
I gave up and went to Upwork (a freelancer site I use all the time). I found a freelancer who specializes in converting documents into e-books.
I already had the cover files for both print and e-book. I didn’t add those costs in.
Cost: $50 for the Upwork book designer. (Calibre is free and I already owned Adobe Acrobat DC).
Total Cost $550. I’m hoping to keep this cost down to $250 for future books, with most of the cost going to my copy editor.
Benefits of this Process
- I’m sure I have a process that adheres to my principles.
- I have developed relationships with several professionals. I’m now using Eileen more and more. You can’t do your own copy-editing, and she’s good at catching little things.
- I now have a workable, simple, fairly cost-effective, fast way to get future books ready for my Preview Team to read.
In my next Case Study, I’ll talk about getting the book up for sale as an e-book and print book.
Start A New Project for Your Business
What can you take away from my experience to benefit your own business?
- Saving money should be a primary consideration, but balance it with saving time, expertise, and focusing on your primary task of working on your Big Idea.
- Aim for simplicity. Try to find the simplest way of doing a task.
- Make sure that the process you decide on is replicable with future similar projects.
- Keep track of your decisions during the process, and create a rule of thumb, so you can duplicate the entire process with other similar projects.
Join the Preview Team
If you are interested in previewing books and giving me feedback (and, hopefully, reviews), you can apply for the Preview Team here: