Choosing a Self-Publishing Service

This post is not sponsored by the Alliance of Independent Authors, BookBaby, Medium, or Marcin Wichary. All information is based on my research for this post and while I was at this step of the self-publishing process for Inside a Writer’s Head.

I have a few recent posts about preparing a poetry collection for self-publishing. This post is more general and can be used for finding the right self-publishing service for any project.

There are a huge number of self-publishing services available nowadays. I couldn’t possibly investigate and review all of them. What I can do is discuss some qualities to look for when choosing a self-publishing service. When you find a service you like, you may want to review this page by the Alliance of Independent Authors rating self-publishing services to see what they have to say about that service.

Your Goals

Before you can find the right self-publishing service, figure out what your goals are. Do you want to give your writing to family and friends? Do you want to sell it? Do you want it to be something you giveaway to your audience, possibly as a free ebook download or a Patreon reward or in some other way? Do you want an ebook, physical book, or both? Are you going to design the cover or have someone who will? If a physical book, do you want a hardcover (dust jacket?) or softcover book?

Ask questions and really understand what you hope to accomplish.

I wanted to sell my writing to the most people possible, but also have the option of giving it away.

Cost vs Reward

Think about what the service costs, what you can afford, and what is being promised for a certain price.

Keep in mind what your goals are. If a service is really cheap but won’t check all your boxes for what you hope to accomplish, it may not be a good fit. On the flip side, if it’s way outside your price range but has everything you could ever want, it’s also not a good fit. As a side note, if the promised quality doesn’t match up with the price point, do some more research.

When I chose BookBaby I knew it was higher than I had anticipated. I thought about what they were promising for that price and did research on them and other services before deciding. For what I paid I’m getting 25 copies of my poetry collection, an ebook available on all platforms from Amazon to Apple’s iBooks, print on demand, and distribution of my book to catalogs for major retailers, and Amazon. I also got a free book review, which I shared on my Published Work page.

Ease of Use

You will also want a service that is uncomplicated and clear about the steps. Some services may have old or clunky software or process for uploading your writing and cover. There may be other advantages to a service that do make it a good choice even if the uploading process is harder or more time consuming.

The Finished Product

Find other authors who used the service(s) you’re looking at. What do they have to say about the service and their finished ebook or physical book? Is their review positive or negative? Why?

If they have a bad experience with the self-publishing process with a given service, see if that is common. If their negative review is with the end result, evaluate what they hoped to accomplish and if what they received aligns with your goals. Do the same for a good experience and a positive review of the end result.

While researching options, I found an article on Medium comparing the quality of four self-publishing services for printing 15 copies of a hard cover book. Marcin Wichary shows images of the books he received, discusses his goals and what he liked and disliked about all parts of each service. If you want physical books, definitely check out his article, even if you’re doing soft cover books. He shows the pages, the type quality, and the interfaces used.

 

These are the three main things to consider when choosing a self-publishing service, your goals, the cost vs reward, and the finished product. They all intersect, and the services that excell in all three areas are the services to choose from for your project.

Be sure to check out my Patreon. By becoming a patron you can get early access to blog posts, a free e-copy of Inside a Writer’s Head, or even a signed copy of the physical book!

Life Is What You Make It (3)

I frequently think about my life, what I want to accomplish, what I’ve done so far, and how long I have to do everything I dream of. This is a series featuring things I’ve written about such things, both poetry and prose.

This post contains profanity and mentions suicidal thoughts. If you are not comfortable with such things, feel free to skip this post.

[Don’t Forget] Low Self-Esteem and a Desire to be Remembered

18 September 2016

I don’t have a very

high self-esteem,

I don’t put much stock

in that I’m a human being.

I know that I’m valued,

worth a motherfucking bunch,

But it doesn’t always feel that way —

like when a bully steals your lunch.

I don’t very much love myself

any which way.

I easily find myself

depression-ly swayed.

I try to avoid

such dark, self-hatred filled thoughts,

But they sometimes come up

and shred me apart.

I find myself wondering

“what more can I do?”

I find myself wondering

if life’s worth living through.

I feel as though I’ll waste my life,

fuck everything over,

I don’t get to live twice.

That’s not an excuse

to “have a fun time,”

Or “eat, drink, and be merry,

for tomorrow we die,”

Because I want my life

to be worth remembering.

I don’t want to be forgotten

or remembered because

My life was lived rotten.

I want my time used best it can,

none of it, no moments,

left to fester in the trash can.

It’s a lot of pressure

I put on myself,

when I want my life story

to not rot on a shelf,

With no one caring what all I did,

with no one caring if I even lived.

I could be made up,

for all they may know,

So for evidence, what will I have to show?

I don’t want my story

to just be mistakes,

Or for it all to just have been a waste.

If it’s not worth

recording, reading, remembering, or reliving,

Is there even a point

to my life continuing?

Death is inevitable,

should I even try?

I want so badly to know

if I’ll really use my time,

But I won’t know that

until I’ve lived my life.

Right now, right now

I could not, would not

die satisfied

That my life was worth

all the time I spent

Making it what it is,

Wouldn’t die satisfied

that I’ll be remembered

For too much longer

after I’ve died.

Even if someone

published all that I’ve written,

I’d still be forgotten,

Forget having never been smitten

or ever in love,

That doesn’t matter so much to me

As my life story

being worth  my time,

being worth remembering.

I’ve been told I’m a good poet,

so maybe, just maybe,

There’s something to that

and my life won’t,

at least not in its entirety,

be forgotten and allowed to rot

in the annals of history’s

ever-growing bookshelf.

 

Poetry Prompts: “Cold Showers”

This was written and posted at 11:44 pm on September 17th.

If you have any suggestions for poetry topics or writing prompts that struck your fancy, share them in the comments!

The prompt, taken from Think Written, was “cold water.”


Icy,

Shivers,

Goosebumps,

Curling toes,

Rubbing arms,

Shaking.

The water runs

over me like rain,

and it feels like rain,

it will not warm,

it’s all used up,

my shower’s

forcibly cold.

Poetry Prompts: “Apple Dumplings”

Recently I have been struggling with my writing habits and motivation to work on things. To add some more fun to writing poetry and get some fodder for inspiration, I decided to find some poetry prompts.

If you have any suggestions for poetry topics or writing prompts that struck your fancy, share them in the comments!


The prompt, taken from Think Written: Grandma’s Kitchen

 

Image result for apple dumplings
Apple Dumplings (picture credit)

 

“Apple Dumplings”

An evening long ago,

distant, as it feels,

a lesson in preparing

an after-dinner treat.

We core apples,

mix cinnamon and sugar,

roll out pie crusts,

butter the lot.

Together we made

apple dumplings

and small pieces of

cinnamon sugar pie crust.

The Coffee Explorations: Papa Nicholas Hawaiian Roast

This is perhaps an unusual post for a mostly creative-content blog. I bought a French press a month or so ago and don’t know what kind of coffee I like best because we only had an espresso maker at my house before. It might be interesting later for me to look back and see what I thought about various coffees while I was drinking them for the first time. For those of you who also love coffee, you might enjoy this post as well. I also wrote about Starbucks Sumatra and the Papa Nicholas House Roast.

This addition to the series has been a long time coming, as it took a while to drink a whole bag of coffee.

When I opened the bag this morning, I liked the smell of the grounds. It was not quite as “Wow that smells amazing” as the House Roast, but it was good. After steeping the grounds in boiling water in my French press, the coffee smelled slightly bitter but with a noticeable tinge of another smell. I’m not sure what it was, exactly, I’m still trying to decipher it, but it was good.

My first taste, after raw cane sugar and heavy whipping cream, was that it is very smooth. It has a stereotypically coffee flavor to it, followed by a sweet and tangy after taste reminiscent of the second smell I noticed.

It’s good, but I would like it to be stronger. It’s a light roast, so perhaps I prefer medium or dark roasts.

Overall, I give this coffee a 7/10 for flavor.

I’ll try brewing it with additional scoops of coffee in the press to see if that makes any difference.

 

 

Recap: Girl Defined Fixed My Anxiety

This is part of a series of posts called Recap. In it I will share my notes on the content I consumed followed by my response. The content could vary from a podcast, to an article, to a Youtube video, to a book I read. When applicable, I will link to the content.

Additionally this was written September 8th despite the url.

I recently watched Rachel Oates‘ video Girl Defined Fixed My Anxiety. I wrote about my struggle with mental heath on Over the Invisible Wall and I mentioned it in Why I’m Not a Christian. In my response to the video I share more about that.

Notes

Rachel Oates has dealt with anxiety and it’s been a big part of her life.

Girl Defined equates worry and anxiety in their video, but it’s not the same thing. Worry is something everyone faces frequently. Worry usually has an external cause. Anxiety on the other hand is more intense; worry on a way bigger scale. There’s more internal or physiological causes, and anxiety is longer term. It can have external triggers but is more internal.

First of Girl Defined’s points, you should pass your worries onto God. Rachel disagrees: what helped her with anxiety was feeling more in control; it was worst when she felt out of control.

Girl Defined’s 2nd point: don’t worry so much about the future that you forget to live now. Rachel shared how focusing on the present moment helped her at times when she was feeling overwhelmed because of anxiety. She said, “Things can change and things do change and you have the power to change them.”

Third point: worry isn’t helpful. Obviously. But you can’t just tell yourself to stop worrying or stop having a panic attack.

Fourth point: God promises to help those who trust him. Rachel wants proof that God exists, can help her, and has her best interests in mind before she’ll just trust him and throw out her medication.

Point five was to remember that God has a plan for you. Rachel disagrees, thinks better advice would be that while life is crappy sometimes it’s possible to recognize those things that make it so and make a plan to change them.

Girl Defined then tells people that following God more and praying is the best way to deal with and stop worrying or having anxiety. This is a dangerous mindset because it could stop people from getting the help they need and seeking treatment.

Rachel recommends Sane New World by Ruby Wax and Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig.

Response

I grew up in a Christian home and I dealt with depression. Which, yes, is very different, and not related to this specific topic directly, but it is a mental health issue. And I’ve seen Christians suggest partial “cures” for it in the same way Girl Defined suggested things for anxiety-conflated-with-worry. I was told at least once that my depression was probably due at least in part to my poor relationship with God. If only I would fix things with God and grow closer to him, I wouldn’t be so depressed. But I’ve had the opposite problem.

Rather than making me less depressed, it aggravated other problems. I feared I was not truly following Christ, that I hadn’t been forgiven, that my sins hadn’t been washed away, that I was one of the goats who thought they were Christians but were not and would burn in hell. This led me to hopelessness. I had some security in my faith to a degree, but it wasn’t enough. It didn’t convince me. It couldn’t convince me. The what ifs swirled on and on, building up. It took me to a point where there was no hope, no certainty, no reason to believe my life mattered.

I was taught that everyone’s true purpose was to glorify God. But I couldn’t discern whether I was truly glorifying him or if I was trying to glorify myself. There was no way to be sure. I kept reaching a point where my relationship with God, if you can call it that, felt ingenuine, more obviously fake than I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter™. And that drove me further into hopelessness and a fear of hell. It also drove me toward atheism.

If this God existed, he clearly did not intend for me to follow him. I can’t. I’ve tried everything and I can’t do it. It always flakes. I always feel like I’m faking it, going through the motions, holding a veil over everyone’s eyes, especially my own. So it seems that he is either not real or he is not good, because he is surely sending me to hell. I wanted to follow him. I wanted to believe. So badly. So badly. But I couldn’t. It always fell apart. Every time.

Deleted Draft: Drelkensoul Story

This was started with the prompt, “As our story came to a close, I realized we were the villains all along.” Where I went became a bit of a mess. I created a species, the drelkensoul, for N’Zembe, but didn’t have a solid idea how the function. Not only that, but I didn’t have any sort of plan and my loose plot was a convoluted idea. This may get a rewrite/complete restart, but for now, here it is:

As our story came to a close, I realized that we were the villains all along. By then, though, it was too late. All was said and done, we had already faced our judgment, we were dead. I had always assumed that after death was nothing, but it seems I was wrong. Otherwise I would be unable to record our story. It is my hope that others will avoid our path to destruction, learn from our mistakes, be better than we were.

I don’t blame anyone who assumes this whole tale, including our deaths, is a hoax. But what does it matter? I lived it, so did they. I won’t try to convince anyone of the truth of my recollection by claiming to have been tasked to write my adventure by one of the gods. Yes, there is a multiplicity of deities. There are many, both benevolent and malevolent, in balance.

This is not a religious text, so I shall move on. Surely it is more important to know who we were and what we did that was so terrible. At least, terrible in retrospect. I never realized until after we had died that we had done anything wrong, inflicted pain upon so many. I didn’t know what we truly were until it was too late.

I had my suspicions that we were villainous, but never were they very great. Our people were not known for their kindness anyway, but rather our cruelty and ruthlessness. We were drelkensheath.

I’m not sure how old I was when I became aware of another entity within me. Yes, another entity. A literal separate being inhabiting my body.

We fought for quite some time over control of my being, the external portion of it, at least. Eventually, I was offered a compromise.

Share this vessel with me, and I will grant you unfathomable power–power that will free you from your dependence on the sea. I can still hear those words in my mind, even now that I’m dead.

Knowing the alternative was to continue fighting, as the spirit had made clear he was unwilling to leave, I readily agreed.

Peace brought a strange sense of cohabitation within my own body. I was no longer one person, but two in disguise, if this other creature was even to be considered a person. Are they even a creature? The gods are unwilling to entertain my questions, so I’ll likely never know.

When I rose upon the fertile land, I soon met others like me–drelkensheath who were now cohabiting their own bodies, vessels as the spirits called them. We decided to band together, the seven of us. Perhaps we’d survive better, figure ourselves out quicker, understand these new abilities.

“Hey, we need to leave! Everyone get up!” I yelled at the five still laying on their mats.

Adesola consistently woke up early enough for us to leave, but she had also been out of water the longest–she was the most at home on land.