These days just about anyone can publish a book, have it listed with the Library of Congress, and have it for sale on several of the most popular bookstore websites. Of course this doesn't mean that you will be a famous author that sells over a million copies and is on the New York Times Best Seller List, though you may get lucky if you keep at it. What creating a book does mean, is that you have taken the time to produce a book, learned something along the way, hopefully had fun creating it, and have something that might be worthy of sharing with your friends and relatives. Now, this might sound a bit discouraging at first, but let's not get mired in the muck of doing something creative because you want to be famous. Generally, the reason a creative person produces a work of art is because they are compelled to create by an invisible force that speaks louder than their rational mind, overriding all circuits of logic to create something tangible in the three dimensional world no matter what circumstances may be occurring. Are all creative people simply crazy?
The best self publishing company I have found on my journey of self publishing is www.lulu.com. I researched many sites that made a lot of promises, cost a considerable amount of money, and had poorly explained procedures to create a book. I'm not trying to sell you on LuLu, only to say that I really liked there site even though it was a lot of information to wade through in order to create a book (it's free!). They do have a few templates that you can use for some books, but they are very limited in the scope of aesthetics and choices for book sizes. In order to create my most recent book, "Viewpoints" I had to learn the Adobe InDesign program, read through a fair amount of information on all the specifics of formatting for major distribution, copyright, and of course, do the writing. It has been almost a year since the inception of this book, and I have just finished the final edits, and will hopefully have it on the market in a week or so. Instant gratification does not bide well with making/writing books, as most books take anywhere from a year to five or ten years to create.
One of the biggest learning curves for me was when I had to work with a professional editor. I had never done this before and knew almost nothing about the process. To find an editor I made a list of criteria I thought important and went on line to review the different types of editors. Specifically I was looking for someone who edits fiction, had worked in a major publishing house, possibly a writer them-self, had a wide variety of references, well educated with a masters in creative writing, listed their fees directly on the website, and someone I could easily communicate with. As a novice writer I felt quite apprehensive about approaching a professional editor. I finally found someone I wanted to work with and sent them my short stories and poetry thinking that they would look at my work and wonder why in the world was I choosing to be a writer. When I spoke with the editor, she said that all writers, whether professional or amateur feel a great deal of insecurity when handing over their work to an editor. As a writer I feel much more vulnerable, naked, and insecure than I do with any other creative endeavors I take part in. The editor made a gazillion red marks on my transcript, mostly grammatical errors of which I'm famous for, and a few content revisions. We went back and forth on the content revisions, and finally after three months of exchange, I had a finished manuscript that I felt confident about and wanted to publish.
This journey of writing, creating a book, working with an editor, and learning the ins and outs of the InDesign program, has taught me that with a bit of fortitude, perseverance, and an open mind, a crazy idea like writing a book isn't so crazy after all. Now, if someone actually purchases the book and enjoys it...this would be a gift.