I dipped a toe into the murky pond of self-publishing a few months ago.
My aim? Not to sell a book, but to see how easy – or how hard – it was to convert a document into a printed book, using Amazon’s CreateSpace service.
The final result is a 36 page non-fiction booklet of 8,000 words, based on one of my walking experiences. Soggy Socks is not a masterpiece. But it’s OK. As I said, my aim wasn’t to sell any copies, but to experiment with the process.
I did order a single copy for myself.
(Well, OK, two copies actually.)
This is how I set about creating the book:
- Took a completed long-essay assignment (written for my BA course at Birkbeck).
- Expanded and reworked several sections.
- Paid a copy-editor to check grammar and punctuation.
- Inserted photographs – which turned out to be the hardest part of the whole exercise.
- Set myself up as a publisher and bought a string of ISBN numbers.
- Uploaded the finished document as a PDF file to the CreateSpace site.
- And was amazed at how simple it all was!
The 5th step (setting up as a publisher and buying ISBN numbers) isn’t strictly necessary, as CreateSpace will supply an ISBN number for free – but you then will have CreateSpace listed as your publisher and I wanted to experiment with proper independent publishing.
And then came the surprise!
A few months after the book was ‘published’, I got an unexpected email.
Crikey! So all these official libraries want a copy of my book? Five of them: Oxford, Cambridge, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. And there is one more library to go. The British Library.
Actually, this request is far less impressive than it sounds, because the deposit libraries simply collect a copy of every book published – however good, bad or indifferent – if they are made aware of its publication. I suppose they knew about my book because setting up its ISBN number created a listing in the Nielson BookData catalogue.
But, this means I needed 6 copies of the book to send to the official deposit libraries!
Apart from a minor feeling of irritation about the expense of buying 6 copies of my own book, I realise this has done wonders for my sales figures, which have more than tripled overnight!
So, if you do decide to buy your own ISBN number, don’t forget you will be expected to send copies of your book to be lodged in the official deposit libraries.