This post originally ran on October 12th, 2015. Those with memories of an elephant might like it again. For the rest of us, I hope you enjoy it.
* * *
The inspiration for this list is my latest effort to self-publish the next John J. Cannon story titled His Revenge. Since I had absolutely no experience in publishing, the journey was a long winding road marked by plenty of mistakes. I’m sure the trial and error method is not over yet, but here is some of what I learned. Don’t forget I’m a fiction writer, so some of these lessons have been enhanced with dubious facts to make them more exciting and hopefully humorous. I would, therefore, resist publishing this list on the Huffington Post. (hear that, Arianna?)
Top Ten Things Not to Do if You Decide to Self-Publish Your Book
10 If you decide to self-Publish your book, do not drink any alcoholic beverages four weeks before and two weeks after you hit the publish button. If you do, at best, those little things you forgot are not necessary. At worst, you find out after six weeks you submitted the wrong cover with the manuscript. (You know the one. It has “fiction” spelled “fuction”).
9 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not try to edit the manuscript yourself. If you do, at best, you will have a fool for an editor. At worst, your book will be featured on a blog with the lovely title of “The Poorest Written Books of the Year.” (You are so lucky to have the top position)
8 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not think you don’t need to know how to format the interior. If you do, at best, your readers will be treated to several blank lines. At worst, your book will resemble something created by a room full of monkeys on keyboards. (Yeah, it can be done, but that one page with only the word “then” on it took the cake)
7 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not think that the cute Crayola picture done by your youngest as the cover is relevant to the book. If you do, at best you will miss some sales due to the confusion. At worst, you will get some letters from outraged parents who thought the story of a mass murderer was for children. (Ah well, you can always refund the money)
6 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not think you don’t have to follow the instructions on the publishing site. If you do, at best, you will finally give in and start over following directions after wasting many hours. At worst, you will be locked out of the site for one hundred years. (Most places have no sense of humor when it comes to messing with their process).
5 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not think the various choices offered by the site are not significant enough to understand the differences. If you do, at best, you may end up with a book that does not make you happy. At worst, your book is so expensive to produce you have no royalty or room to promote. (You are independently wealthy, Right?).
4 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not think you don’t need to order a proof copy. If you do, at best, you will miss some of those messy little typos and double periods. At worst, you totally missed the fact that you mislabeled the chapter headings and now have two of each. (The reviewers will have so much fun pointing out the mirror effect).
3 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not rush the process. If you do, at best, there will be something overlooked, but no one will notice. At worst, you forgot to include the dedication that you already read aloud to the recipient. (Hard to convince the person you were sincere after this omission).
2 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not think you can skip the marketing. If you do, at best your family and friends will carry you for a couple of sales. At worst, you will be one of several hundred thousand books published simultaneously and will be entirely lost in the numbers. (You did expect to sell your beautiful book, right?)
1 If you decide to self-publish your book, do not lay awake at night worrying about possible mistakes instead of planning every detail. If you do, at best, you will feel out of control. At worst, you will have a lot to worry about since, without planning, mistakes will happen. (Even with planning, there could be some, Nobody’s perfect).