Self-Publishing Made Easy
Self-Publishing Is Not As Hard As You Think
by Edel Ahmed
It is a dream come true to be a published author, Alhamdulilah! I told myself that before the end of 2017 I would put together a book of poems and send it out into the world. I have had (and still have) thoughts that tell me I’m not good enough and that people will be disappointed. I have been afraid of truly expressing myself and being vulnerable in my writing for years especially around the people who really know me. It really takes practice and a lot of courage to not sensor yourself in your art and that is still something that I have to do actively.
My entire writing process was quiet simple. I wrote and edited then sent the pieces to my good friend for another eye. She looked them over and gave me her feedback. I edited some more and continued to write. After I finished crafting the fifteen pieces in my book, I had to decide on the order. I wanted to introduce myself to the reader so I started with identity poems first. I then went into more personal ones later on in the book. After that I was ready to publish but, with all the different spaces online, it was a bit overwhelming to find the right fit for me.
I had the idea in my head for the cover but didn’t know how to get it down on paper. This is the part where I think prayers and luck intersected. I met for dinner with an old family friend who was in town for the weekend. I told her how I was looking to self-publish and she told me about Blurb.com and how she used it to publish her magazine. I made an account and was very surprised with how easy it was to use. I chose the size, paper style and, cover finish for my book. Because it was a small collection, I wanted a smaller size to make it easier for people to read anywhere. I liked the glossy finish as it gave it a more professional look. Using the website was very easy and whenever I needed help I just chatted with a representative who gave me my answer immediately. I highly recommend using this site but I do want to note that I haven’t tried any others so my advice is very biased.
My friend also linked me with a graphic designer who she knew. After about a hundred emails back and forth between me and Briana Arrington, my cover came to life. One thing I do want to point out is that I made a contract with her. I think it’s important for people to protect themselves and also their designers. All of this was done via email. Gmail gives you an option to create this type of document where you can sign from your touch screen device. After we signed the contracts and I paid her the price we agreed on, the cover design was mine. I uploaded it straight to Blurb and formatted it to fit the size that I wanted my book to be.
I also had to look up how to copyright and protect my work. According to United States Copyright Office, technically a work is copy written by default and you do not have to register it on the site but doing so gives you extra protection. It costs about $55 to get this done via the copyright website. After filling out the form and paying, the processing takes about 6-8 months to complete. You will not get your official document until after the 6-8 months. You are okay to publish it after submitting the paperwork to the site for processing. This step isoptional but I think it helps you protect your intellectual property and use as proof in a court of law.
I started advertising for my bookvia social media. I posted the cover art and said that it was coming soon. I started telling all of my friends who then told their friends. I ordered a copy of the book and had it delivered to me and found some formatting mistakes I made. After editing some more and receiving a final version of the book, I decided on a release date and listed it for sale. I do want to note that you can download and print a PDF version of your book for $5. It will cost you to get physical copies of your book delivered to you because of the printing and binding service that Blurb takes care of for you.
Choosing the price was not very difficult on Blurb. They tell you how much each book will cost them to make, and then you enter the amount you want to profit per book and they calculate your final price for you. If everything looks right you fill out book details and then list it for sale. You have the option to list it for sale via Blurb only or through Amazon as well as other retail sites. It is important to understand how much the other sites charge you to sell. Because I just wanted it to be sold in one place and I liked the amount that I could list it for via Blurb, I decided to just list it exclusively on Blurb for now. If in the future I want to have it available on Amazon or elsewhere, I have the option of going back and selling it there. You get paid via check or direct deposit and Blurb asks for tax information in order to make sure you receive these documents to properly file your taxes.
After listing your book for sale the hard work really begins. And while “Poems Cradled In the Horn” has only been on sale for a full week as I write this article, I still feel like I am learning and trying to figure out and plan my next steps. Writing a book is like releasing a piece of you into the world and risking it getting torn to pieces. It’s very scary to me and all extremely new but, I also trust that I did my best and hope that people will be able to relate and learn a little bit more about me. I am eager to hear what people have to say but in the famous words of Miss Erykah Badu, “Now keep in mind that I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my sh*t.”
You can purchase a copy of “Cradled In the Horn” here: http://www.blurb.com/bookshare/app/index.html?bookId=8092411
Edel Ahmed can be contacted on her website here: https://edelahmed1215.wixsite.com/poeticsoulinme or, via Twitter/Instagram/Facebook @poeticsoulinme Tumblr http://poeticsoulinme.tumblr.com or, via email: email@example.com