Self-Publishing Step1

Checking “self-publishing” online is a little like starting a research paper by reading about your topic in an encyclopedia. You get a lot of compressed generic information. Different companies, bloggers, and experts pull you in ten different directions until you don’t know whom to believe or what to focus on. Clicking through links sends you wandering down strange paths until you end up on Confusion Lane.

What I wish for as I stroll online through the thicket of information is a magic detector. In my fantasy, sweeping this detector with its attached magnet over the document would cause it to beep rapidly when in the presence of useful information. The magnet would then extract the prized nugget and deposit it in my saved self-publishing info folder, neatly filed in some step-by-step order.

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Until such a wonderful instrument is invented, I guess I’ll have to slog along and read andsave as many documents as I think might be helpful. With technology changing every minute and self-publishing models and companies popping up like mushrooms after a soaking summer rain, I’ve decided to focus on information provided in 2011 or 2012. What was cutting edge earlier—say, in 2008 or 2009—may well be outdated by now.

In my wanderings, I ran across some great bloggers. Among them, Jane Friedman who provides tons of helpful information about writing, publishing, blogging, and more; self-publishing coach Shelley Hitz who helps to demystify Amazon’s CreateSpace; David Carnoy, whose article on 25 things you need to know about self-publishing a book is worth printing out for more than one reading; and several lists of self-publishing service providers you can compare here, here, and here. The ones I’ve run across tout their own company. I haven’t found an up-to-date objective review of these companies as yet. I’m still searching for “the” one that’ll meet all my needs.

Among those who had traveled this road were enthusiastic cheerleaders telling me to set up my own publishing company (“It’s easy. All you have to do is x, y, and z.”) as well as scare mongers warning me to avoid getting in over my head (“Unless you’re a techie, better sign up with a reliable service provider like [name of their company].”).

While I sift through all this info, I am also taking to heart almost every info provider’s advice to jump into the social media pool and swim like crazy until I’m comfortable using the main ones. I am (shyly) on Facebook and looking apprehensively at Twitter and LinkedIn.

While I’m weighing the self-publishing options, reading social media how-tos, and interviewing everyone I know who has self-published in order to pick his/her brain, I’ve cottoned up to the idea of blogging. Denise and I have thus set up this blog, where we plan on recording and sharing our writing journey.

And if readers want to find out about me and my work, I’m pulling together material for my new website, robineandrau.com, where I’ll shamelessly promote and market myself and my book-to-be, Bowing to the Emperor: Prisoners of the Japanese in WWII, a memoir of my family and my experience during WWII in Indonesia and Japan.

By the way, if you plan on setting up a website and want to use your own name, better check that it’s still available (http://www.whois.com/). My daughter Kieli, who is a jeweler, wanted to use her unusual name for her website but found it was snagged by someone else. And while checking author websites, I discovered that one of my favorite authors, Anna Quindlen, had lost possession of annaquindlen.com to one of her fans. Although what this fan did is perfectly legal, to me that seems like taking something that’s not yours. What do you think?

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