Over the weekend I published the ebook version of The Journey of St. Laurent. I started the whole process Saturday night with a plain text manuscript. About an hour later, I was done. As in done submitting the proper files to three different stores. Each website took whatever time it needed verifying my submission (all had done so by Sunday night, with one half exception) The novel is currently available here:
Gee, Bryce, how did you do it so fast?
I did not have to sign up for new accounts at any of the three places, so that did save me an extra hour of waiting for confirmation emails and looking up banking information. Also, I pre-wrote the book description and other info that I was going to need when filling out publishing forms.
The secret, then, to self publishing quickly is automation.
As I’ve discussed before, I primarily use plain text editors and I format the text as I write using markdown. For fiction, this mostly means putting a “#” before chapter titles and then wrapping words/phrases that I want italicized with asterisks. So it’s not like it’s a lot of extra work or anything.
But since my novel was in markdown, and I’ve had a cover ready for almost a year now, there was very little to do.
First, I used SPAB to produce the epub for Barnes and Noble. (Yes, SPAB produces a bunch of other files that can be used, but I wanted to be extra picky about formatting.)
Second, I used Amazon’s Kindle Previewer to convert both the epub mentioned above and the zipped html (produced by SPAB) to mobi, then I picked the one that looked the best to me. That mobi went to Amazon.
Third, I used pandoc along with templates I made for the old version of SPAB to make a LibreOffice odt file. I opened LibreOffice and saved it as a word doc. The word doc got uploaded to Smashwords.
In all fairness, I probably could have just used SPAB and been done with it. However, the file that SPAB produces for Smashwords is an epub. Smashwords will take an epub, but it won’t convert that epub to the ten or so other formats it likes to sell. The book was for sale at Smashwords itself very quickly, but is still pending review to be distributed everywhere Smashwords distributes. That’s the half exception.
Still, the files I needed were ready to go within 15 minutes. Then it was a matter of uploading and filling in forms.
But writing is still hard
Publishing the book was a snap. And even if you don’t use the same method or tools I do, it is still pretty easy. But do you know what wasn’t easy? Writing the thing. Also: editing it.
I’m confident this is a much stronger novel than the last one, but the more I write, the more I recognize my writing weaknesses.
Anyway, the tools to self publish will continue to get better and easier. That only means we writers should spend the extra time bettering our craft.