A Hard-Earned Self-Publishing Lesson

May 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

I learned another lesson the hard way about the pitfalls of self-publishing.

When you get your proof copy from a traditional publisher, you usually don’t have to check if the font you’ve chosen and font size are correct, but when you self-publish that’s one more area where problems can crop up. Here’s what happened:

I use CreateSpace for the print edition of my books. Using their document template in order to format my Word file into the correct page size, I submitted my second novel, Making the Grade, to CS using their submission system. It took a few attempts to get my Word document to flow properly into their template so that the page numbering and other formatting elements looked the way I wanted them to look, but I was pretty confident that I had it right.

When I submitted the file to CS, I assumed nothing would be changed. What I did not know, however, was that CS converts Word files into PDFs (if you don’t do it yourself). For some reason, when they did that to my document, it changed the font size from 11 to 12 points. Now you may think that’s a minor point, but it isn’t. As a result of the font size change, the pages of the book didn’t flow as I intended.

CS help documentation suggests authors do their own PDF conversion, but they don’t tell you that when you’re submitting your file. Apparently they know problems like this can happen, but INHO they haven’t gone far enough to warn authors.

The fact that they didn’t warn me or catch the problem themselves makes me a less than satisfied customer as I ordered copies to distribute to reviewers and bookstores before a reader pointed out the problem.

Why do little things like typos my proof-readers overlook and the wrong font size bother me? As someone who self-publishes, I feel the need to produce as professional a document as I can. My goal is 0 defects.

If you order a copy of Making the Grade today, the formatting will be correct. If you purchased a copy with the incorrect formatting — the way to tell is there’s a single word on Page 8 — and if you’d like a corrected copy, contact me and I’ll send you one for no charge.

If you’re an author or would-be self-publisher, recognize that each and every detail can become an issue in the process. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t self-publish. It just means that you’ll need to allot sufficient time to check each and every item in the process.

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