Grand Experiment Update and Some Notes on Process


Over the weekend, I offered my story, King’s Long Search, for free using Amazon’s KDP Select program. This program is an option when uploading a book to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service and has a couple of benefits. One is that you can offer your book for free for 5 days per quarter. The other is that it becomes part of Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, through which you can gain a larger audience and make a little extra income. The trade off is that you have to grant exclusivity to Amazon during those three months. You have the option to renew after the three months are over.

Because I don’t have any immediate plans to publish King’s Long Search elsewhere, I opted to enroll in the Select program. I offered it for free for four days and am holding on to the fifth day for down the road.

I would say that my initial test of the Select program was a success. With little effort on my part (I did nothing more than write one blog post), 65 people downloaded King’s Long Search. A very modest number for sure, but not bad for just starting out and not really promoting it.

I’m looking at this current project more or less as a test of concept. I was able to put the book out  and it was discovered by a handful of people. That’s pretty much what I was looking for with this effort.

I found the process to be fairly easy. Some of the details of formatting the book and uploading it were tedious but not overwhelming. I hope to outline specifics of formatting and uploading the book later. For now, I just want to provide some sense of the timeline. Once I had a complete manuscript in hand, it took less than a month to go live and I could have expedited that.

By May 14th, I had a complete manuscript that I had revised many times and had gotten some positive feedback on. I had been doing some research on editors and contacted the one I felt was my best option. I sent her a few sample pages and she got back to me the next night outlining her process and fees. I accepted her terms and sent her the full manuscript. She offered either proofreading or a more comprehensive copy-editing. I went with the latter. Her fee includes 2 passes on a manuscript.

She sent me her suggested corrections on May 18th. I went through the corrections and revised those I agreed with (which was most of them) and sent the revised manuscript back to her on May 22nd. She had the next round of suggested corrections back to me on May 24th.

I cannot stress enough how valuable having a professional editor look at my work was. I was amazed by how many mistakes she had found despite the fact that I had gone over that document many times. She had even given me a discount because my manuscript was cleaner than most. Even at that, her suggested corrections were plentiful. If you are going to self-publish, hiring an editor is a must.

While my story was with the editor, I began working on a cover. I know many people suggest that hiring an editor and a graphic designer are essential, and, in theory, I agree. Especially if you are writing genre fiction, you need to have a professionally designed cover. I opted out for a couple reasons.

One is that I have a bit of design experience and I am interested in developing this skill. Since King’s Long Search was a more or less a test case, I wanted to give making a cover a shot. I felt I could get away with that because the story falls more in the literary fiction category and therefore doesn’t have the same expectations as a genre work. I felt I could get away with a simple, photo-based cover since I didn’t need dragons or ripped bodices.

On May 29th, I started making a detailed list of the steps I needed to take to self-publish. I compiled this list based on Amazon’s own instructions and sections of Catherine Ryan Howard’s excellent Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing (2nd Edition). I found Self-Printed to be a great resource filled with humor and good advice. She clearly outlines the necessary steps for self-publishing. Because my book is short and not complicated (i.e. no table of contents, no illustrations or charts, no index, etc), it was a fairly straightforward process. As I mentioned above, I hope to go into more detail about that in a later post, but Howard’s book provides more detail than I’ll get into. Her blog, Catherine, Caffeinated, is also an excellent resource and she recently started a series about “How Self-Published Books Are Made: Start To Finish.”

On June 1st, I began formatting and finished working on the cover.

On June 2nd, I finished formatting and set-up my Amazon KDP account using my existing Amazon account and then uploaded King’s Long Search.

The next day, I signed up for the Select program and set my first promotion for June 7-10. I also set-up my Amazon Author Central profile.

On June 6th, I posted an announcement on this blog and the free promotion started the next day.

On June 7th, I added King’s Long Search to Goodreads and applied for their author program. The next day, I was notified that my author page was available and I edited my profile.

Basically, it took only from May 14th to June 2nd to self-publish. It was a fairly painless process, although part of that had to do with how short and straightforward my manuscript was. It was a good choice for getting my feet wet and now I’m ready to move on to the next work!