It's been awhile since my last post, but in the immortal words of Nicholas Cage, "Well gosh, kind of a lot's happened since then."
In mid-April, my book came out in print worldwide through my POD publisher. In late May, we dissolved our contract and went our separate ways. In June, I began publishing my own book, in ebook and paper formats. The ebook versions are available for purchase on Smashwords and in the Kindle store (page in progress). Currently, the print book (through CreateSpace) is in process: the proof copy is being mailed for my approval.
For any of my readers who might want to pursue this angle themselves, and in case I forget what I did when it comes time to prepare my next book, I'll give a bit of a list here.
1. I got Edward C. Patterson's free ebook on how to publish to Kindle and on CreateSpace. Followed the ebook formatting hints to the letter, since it specifically discussed how Kindles read ebooks. E.g. double-spacing for Kindle is unnecessary and annoying, as the Kindle doubles all spaces. Good stuff like that really helped, since I do not yet own a Kindle.
2. Downloaded a 6x9 word template from Lulu.com and copy/pasted my manuscript into it, once it was cleansed of formatting issues. These are so handy! Thank you, tinhorn. The pagination is completed for you, and if you alter one chapter heading in size or font, they all change. It's lovely. One note: CS has a handy calculator for inside margin width: if your book has over 400 pages when it's sized and ready to go, you'll need to increase that margin to over 0.875 inches. My Word didn't have .025 increments, so it's set at 0.9.
3. Converted the .doc file to .pdf. First, I tried Lulu's free converter, and it went off without a hitch, until CreateSpace got back to me saying I could order a print copy as is, but the file was only 151 dpi instead of the recommended 300. Now this might not be a big deal for text, but I have detailed maps with small text on them embedded in the file, so I chose the safe route and had the file converted by someone familiar with Adobe.
4. Cover art! Oh, my brain hurt on this one. I created a lovely cover in GIMP (and kept fiddling with it), but the open source program doesn't have the ability to save in .pdf format. I'd copied the pixel requirements from my previous cover, also printed through CreateSpace, but most of the free PDF converters I downloaded from the internet distorted the file or put white on the sides when I selected 11x17. One managed to do a great job, though: Convert Image to PDF left only the tiniest of white lines on the right side and bottom. So I uploaded their version as the cover art.
Next time, I'll download CreateSpace's template and size accordingly for it. This was a headache and a half. But I'm always uncomfy during a learning experience. It's half the reason I do stuff; to get out of my comfort zone and spite my comfiness.
Ed's book recommends the Lulu cover wizard, which suits his style of cover perfectly. But it doesn't allow for a full-cover upload, like CreateSpace does. You can do front cover and back cover yourself, and upload those, so you don't even need to worry about how wide your spine is (which is critical to sizing), so it's way easier to use.
But CreateSpace will tell you how wide your spine will be. In fact, Lulu will, too. And CS's template has guides so you know where to put your spine art/text. So in the end, it's just a matter of preference. The book series I'm doing now will have full-cover wrap-around art, so I'm restricted to CreateSpace's uploader for these two books. But I have a fascinating series of 8 fantasy books in my head that lend themselves extremely well to single-color spines (but I'm not telling why), so I think I'll let Lulu do the PDF conversion for those books for me in the future.
Other details of note: CreateSpace has a Pro Plan that authors can sign up for, for a one-time fee of $39.00, and $5 per title per year. It saves me $4 per book I order for myself, which means that if I order 10 books this year for whatever I want, I'll already have earned my money's worth. So yes, I signed up for CS's Pro Plan, and I recommend you do too.
Related to the Pro Plan is CS's EDC: extended distribution channels. I chose not to use any of them, because the percentage of the price they each take leaves me with a negative royalty per book. I'm fine for now with my print book only being available on Amazon. The ebook version is probably going to do a lot of the moving and shaking, anyway. But I could be wrong; I'm very interested in seeing the results of early sales.
Biggest benefit of publishing the print book myself is that I got to lower the price by $5. Five whole dollars! Since it's a Young Adult crossover book, I think that lower price will heavily appeal to the younger end of the spectrum.
So, this horse has left the stables and is romping around in the fields. I expect I'll get a little muddier out here, but you know what? I'm free. I'll take it.