Publishing a book has never been easier and many folks ask me about the process. Now that I have published four books, I am looked upon as some kind of publishing guru when nothing could be further from the truth. A few of my friends have now written books and more are talking about doing so. All of them have, at some point, asked for my advice, and this is something I don’t mind giving even though I’m not really qualified.
I begin by telling would-be authors that everything they need to know about self-publishing is online and the companies involved make the process fairly easy. And it’s now even easier than when I published my first book thanks to publishers’ updated software. I would say that the most difficult part for non-American authors is dealing with the badass American tax system (IRS). They make off with thirty percent of your hard-earned royalties, and unless you are clever enough to work your way around the system by obtaining a W-7 form and filling out a W8-BEN or W8-BEN-Eform, there is nothing you can do to prevent it. These procedures allow you to pay tax in your own country as long as it has a tax treaty with the US. We have tried several times to initiate this and have got nowhere. If you have any tips you would like to share on the subject, please let me know. We intend to try again.
Leaving behind the mechanics of publishing, let’s delve into some of the emotions you might feel as you go through the writing process leading up to the big day when you launch your book.
It took me 12 years to finish Caribbean High, and seven years to write the follow-up, Caribbean Deep. It took so long because sometimes they went untouched for months and I have to make a living. At some stage during the writing process of both books I suffered a huge loss of confidence, and a couple of times came very close to deleting the manuscripts even when they were almost finished. It was my wife who stopped me from pressing the delete button.
Technically Caribbean Deep is a far better book than Caribbean High and that is because I sought outside help once I had finished the fourth draft.
When you are weaving 80000 words into an exciting plot, mistakes creep in. I edit a popular Caribbean sailing/lifestyle magazine and part of that process includes hours of proof reading, so you could say I’m qualified. I read and reread Caribbean Deep and then read and reread it again, probably a dozen times until all the typos were gone … or so I though. It was then copy edited and that brought to light more typos, mostly little things but also a couple of real bloopers. Having made the corrections I reread the manuscript, only to find a few more mistakes. At this point, I decided to have the book professionally proof read. The results were astounding.
Having polished the manuscript, I engaged a graphics designer and worked with her on the all-important cover. Don’t cut corners with the cover, it has to stand out. I ran the cover on social media and asked for comments. All were positive and one person suggested a slight change, which we implemented. My designer produced several versions of the cover for use on different eBook platforms, and one for the paperback edition.
Some authors churn out books and fire them across the internet like buckshot. I find my books hard to let go and this is something other authors tell me they find difficult too. Releasing your work, tossing it to the general public to be picked over, takes nerve and don’t let anyone tell you different. Years of work at the mercy of strangers who can cut you to the bone with one bad review, your creative soul torn apart for the price of a six-pack of beer ...
Would I encourage you to publish a book? Hell, yes. Will I write another? Hell, no.
Well, maybe …