Now that we know a little bit more about what an ePub is, I thought it might be beneficial to hear from a self-publishing author. Ruth Ellen Parlor, a new author from the UK, was kind enough to let me interview her about the release of her book, Earth Angel (available on Amazon and Smashwords).
What made you decide to self-publish?
I always had in the back of my mind to go down the traditional route. As I got into using twitter and into reading blogs of other writers, I got a good background knowledge on self-publishing, which was this emerging thing that was just starting to snowball. As I learned more about it, I got more excited about it.
I started to send my novel to traditional agents in queries. I started to get a bit impatient even though I knew the process would be lengthy. I felt very enthusiastic about the self-publishing route. It felt right, the time felt right, and I always listen to my gut instinct. To me, self publishing, this time in my life, is the way to go.
I like the control that I have because I’m also a designer. I can design my own cover, which I really wanted to do. Basically I can just write book that I want to write, and do everything myself. If you publish it traditionally, they tell you how to write, which can be good, but I’ve heard of writers who’ve had their books torn apart to make it more commercial. You don’t get much say in the cover design either. I think the control for me was really important.
What programs did you use for this whole process?
The novel is written in Word, formatted in Word, and uploaded from Word. With Smashwords, you can upload it as a Word document. I believe it’s the same for Amazon. You can download an ePub reader to your computer, and you can test your [file] to see what your book would look like before you publish it.
What was easier than you expected?
Probably formatting. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to do it on Word, and that I’d have to get some other really complicated program to do it in. Some people use HTML, and I don’t know how to do that. Once you learn how to do the formatting, though, it’s easy. You just do it on Word.
What was harder than you expected?
Marketing. Because you have to be really careful how you market to other people. You can’t go up to other people and say “Buy my book.” Everyone does that and it’s spammy. And you don’t listen to someone like that. You have to build up your image and your market. It’s not just about “buy my book,” it’s about writing a blog, and a facebook page, and interacting with people, and twitter, and sharing ideas. You build up a reputation online, and if people like you, then they might buy your book. And that takes a long time. It’s a process that never ends and you just keep doing it.
What was the most unexpected thing you encountered?
The support that I’ve recieved from other writers and from twitter. I was recommended to start twitter, because as a writer you’ve only got 140 characters to write, and I thought it would be good [practice] to try and say something in such few words. Then I started interacting with other writers and building up a little community. Now that I’m close to publishing, I’ve got a lot of support from people I’ve never met before. So far I’ve got 11 people that want to join in my book tour. Other people, like yourself, who’ve wanted to interview me, and I’ve been in contact with another writer who wanted to feature me.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to self-publish?
I would just say if anyone is thinking about self-publishing, do your research before hand. Find out what you need to do. Don’t rush to get your book out. It’s best to build up a following first, have other people look at it, try to make it profesional. If you are designing your own book cover and it doesn’t look professional, then more than likely people are not going to want to buy it. There are hundred of eBooks available now. So do your research, and don’t put it out before it’s ready.
I thoroughly enjoyed my interview with Ruth Ellen Parlour, and would like to, once again, thank her for her time.