They say the traditional publishing model is dead. The buzz on the street is self-publishing, or even better “e-publishing.” Well after wasting several hours trying to self-publish and e-publish a short story with illustrations, I’m not so sure about the demise of New York publishing houses.
I wrote a simple, feel-good short story that takes you back to the first Easter morning via the viewpoint of the stone in front of the tomb. It may not be a classic masterpiece, but the message is very meaningful to me, and I wanted publishing it myself, or maybe just get it out there into the digital world for people to enjoy.
I hired an illustrator. She produced some simple pencil drawings that captured the essence of the story quite well. I bought them, scanned them, and inserted them into the story at just the right spots using Microsoft Word. I printed the story. It looked just like it did on my computer screen. My editorial staff (my kids) reviewed it and gave me the thumbs up.
Next, I went to a well-known self-publishing site and opened an account. According to their advertising, they offered turnkey solutions for printing the book. With a click of the mouse, I was on my way. (Take that you New York fat cats!) As instructed, I converted the word document into PDF, and uploaded it. I picked a standard size for my best seller, and fumbled through their cover design process, which was too elaborate for my small project. Finally, I got to the last step and the website began to convert my words and purchased sketches into a book! (It was like Christmas morning!) Wait… a message popped up. My book was too short and they couldn’t publish it.
I mumbled a few less-than-Christian things at my computer screen.
My wife overheard my ranting and had pity on me. She sent me a link for self-publishing that she heard was one of the best. I cooled my jets, resolved not let this setback be the end of a worthwhile story, and clicked on the link.
This site was better. It had better testimonials. I opened an account. They had a wizard button! (I spit in your face cruel traditional publishing model!) At step two I was trying to upload the cover and found myself restricted to a variety of vanilla options, but for a small fee they could help make my cover eye-catching and professional. Of course, I remembered the old adage, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” and accepted one of the vanilla options. When I got to the end, I found myself in a quagmire of legalese about distribution, royalties, and ISBN numbers. It gave me a headache, and I went back to my ranting.
The next day, I remembered an email I had previously received about e-publishing. I combed through my various spam folders and found it. It offered a simple way to get your books out into the digital library using adjectives like “free,” and “easy.” Still longing to get my inspiring treatise in the hands of longing readers, I decided to give it one more try.
The account setup lived up to the advertising. I was ready in a snap. Then I uploaded the book and the website converted it. “Finally,” I thought, “I have found the holy grail of e-publishing and my story will cruise along the information superhighway to wonderful digital destinations all over the worldwide web.” The website informed that the conversion of my story was complete, and I clicked on the preview button.
“Why are all my illustrations out of order?” I wondered as I clicked through the preview. “Nothing is where I put it." My voice grew louder. "It doesn’t look anything like it does on my computer screen or my printed copy!”
Several hours and multiple attempts later, my wife found me screaming at the computer again.
“What’s wrong dear?” she asked.
“I just want to write! None of those self-publishing websites worked as advertised.”
“What do you mean?”
“They all claim to be easy, simple, and free, but the after several hours of trying, I still don’t have my illustrated short story any closer to being published than I did since I got my last scathing rejection letter.” I continued my rant for a few minutes. I ended it with, “I just want to focus my time on writing!”
She sensed my frustration (and having read the majority of everything I have written – she knew my writing needed my time… a lot of it), and offered a solution.
My wife is now my agent, publisher, and promoter in the self-publishing world. That should free my creative mind… but it will make the rejection letters a bit more interesting.