Milestones. They are what keep our wheels turning, our lives going. They are that light at the end of the tunnel, and once that is reached, another light begins to flicker. For me, the milestone that kept me going was the undertaking of becoming a self-published author. With unconditional family support and determination, I achieved this goal in the summer of 2016, and got to share my success with my classmates through a project called the Capstone during my Senior year of high school.
Though this article is not solely about the Capstone, it is important to understand that I used this as my vessel for achieving my dream. During the presentation, I explained to my audience what the process of self-publishing entails, the challenges I faced, and of course, my successes. Another requirement of the project was to obtain a mentor, a person experienced with the project’s subject and who could be used as a teacher, if you will, throughout the process.
My mentor was a best friend of mine I met through a club, and she taught me some valuable tips for publishing, especially the self-edit process. Now, as anyone could assume, publishing a book is not something that can happen over night. It takes a significant amount of thought and planning. Once the rough draft of my story was completed, my mentor gave me the first helpful hint that relates to editing. It is good for authors to edit themselves, then, as she said, take a week off from laying eyes on the story before revisiting for a second self-edit. And my mentor was right. It worked! I caught several things I missed during my first edit, and one of them even included taking out an entire page of fluff that consisted of the antagonist rambling on– his speech might as well have been a soliloquy, and this wasn’t a play I was writing. And during my first edit, I lessened the role of a character named Luna because I realized that if I left her part in, my book would have been more of a soap opera than a story. Afterwards, a second pair of eyes comes in, and in this case, that pair of eyes was my mentor, a professional editor for a newspaper. This is the last edit that takes place, and the editor gives feedback and comments. After weeks of changing and rearranging, I was finally ready to enter the next part of my publishing journey.
In talking with a couple of students from one of my classes at Lesley last semester, I found they were interested in what publishing company I used. My mentor suggested createspace.com for a company; one of her friends had raved about it after using the site. Once again, my mentor didn’t lead me astray– I would recommend createspace.com for any aspiring author here at Lesley and beyond who wishes to self-publish. Those Creative Writing Majors out there should definitely take a look, if you don’t already know about createspace.com, which grants the author almost a free ride. The only thing is the author has to pay is $100. Granted, that’s without requesting professional artists to design the cover to the author specs. However, createspace.com is immensely helpful because of the step-by-step process of how to publish, and everything is up to the authors. Everything from what color the pages will be, the size of the book, and the cover art, whether they choose to create the cover themselves using a nifty tool featured on createsace.com called Cover Creator or request for the cover to be done professionally. As an artist, I decided to use Cover Creator and design my own cover free of charge, and my ISBN was also given to me for free. After I had submitted my actual document to createspace.com, it was time to delve into the first challenge of this process: making the cover. This was going to be my first time using digital art, and I had no idea what was in store for me.
The publishing process can already be long and tiring, but when an author chooses to work with a new program, that process can be drawn out even longer. My stress levels didn’t die down knowing that I had a deadline for this project, which was towards the end of the school year. So, on top of my school work and now this new challenge, I was entering a whirlwind. Now, as any of you artists out there know, sometimes it takes several attempts to get the desired outcome, or several adjustments. I’m no exception to that– I’m a perfectionist when it comes to art. I decided to use Gimp for my cover, and after scanning the original art, I inserted it into this program. To make a long story short, Gimp for me, at first, did not seem user-friendly. I became overwhelmed with the plethora of options and features, so my initial experience with Gimp was not a good one. However, I soon was able to wrap my head around it and was able to finish the cover on time, though I knew I only scratched the surface and looking back now, would love to make some minor changes if I could. My suggestion to any artist who wishes to use digital art software for a book cover is to experiment with several programs beforehand to discover what one works best for you.
Overall, the publishing process is what the author makes it– either easy or hard, efficient or lack-luster. In order to find a reputable publishing company, simply do the research to find a self-publishing site that works well. In any case, the road is long to finally be looking at an actual book with an ISBN and your name on the front cover, but that reward is worth the wait. With the right amount of invested passion, dedication and planning, (what I call PDP), the dream can, and will, come true not just for authors, but anyone who has a bucket list needing completion.