For a number of reasons, I have been considering going electronic with some of my books, building a platform while I try to get others published traditionally. I have read all the information I can find on editing, cover design, formatting for e-books, etc. A lot of research is required, but in the process I've found quite a few blogs (and books) that suggest a direct connection between money and self-publishing--i.e., if you don't have money, you have no business trying to break in to this market.
I'm going to admit right up front that many aspects of the publishing business would be easier with an unlimited budget. Unfortunately, I don't have an unlimited budget. I don't have the money for professional editing, or the money for a professional cover, or the money to pay someone else to build me a website, or to market my book for me.
With a little bit of knowledge and some common sense it should be entirely possible to do all these things for yourself.
It's irritating to see people who say "Never submit a book that hasn't been professionally edited" or "Don't do your cover yourself. You have to pay someone to do it for you."
I do see their point, but the fact is that this is impossible. Flatly, utterly impossible. I HAVE to do it myself. If I want this, I have no choice. And the statement that if you don't do things this way you have no business trying to get published is utterly wrong.
I won't give in to the sentiment that I have no business trying to publish my novels because of my financial status. The elitists can go play their games somewhere else. I will succeed. It may be a long learning process, it may be by trial and error, but I'm not going to let someone else tell me what I can and cannot do, or how to do it.
End of story.
Web site design Not easy, but very possible
www.drupal.org Be prepared to spend some time learning--this is not plug and play but you can design the website you want. You will still need to pay for hosting. There are other similar programs. Find one that suits you. This may be a step you want to avoid taking until you have a book or two out. I did it first, so I don't know for sure.
Cover art Learning to do this yourself is FUN. Again, not easy.
Istockphoto Stock art that can be used as a base for a cover design
DeviantArt For the most part amateur graphics artists, some who are willing to contract their art. They also generally show where they got the elements in any particular piece.
Lots of others--look around
Get a good graphic arts program. GIMP is free open source software and seems to be capable of most of what the others can do. Be ready for a steep learning curve.
Contact schools in your area and find out if the graphics arts teachers can recommend a student who can do your cover more cheaply (the teachers usually know who's up to it).
Find out if there are community resources you can use.
If you can't find what you need, take your own photos
Remember that the resolution of your cover art is important--and I'm not talking about DPI. A 300 dpi image that's four inches square isn't going to help. A 72 dpi image that's 30 inches square is going to have much more resolution (although you can increase the 30 inch image to 300 dpi, it will just decrease the size correspondingly so that you end up with the same resolution)
Plan ahead, decide what you want before you go "shopping"
myecovermaker.com A mass solution, with limited scope but fine if you want something simple. If you have the image you want, they can put it on a pile of books (in an image) but you need to be a member to use this option. The cover below was one of the free version.
Animoto.com You can create a 30 second book trailer free, but as an online resource their scope is limited. This trailer is one of their free version. And no, the book isn't ready yet. I'm hoping to have it out by the end of March. This book trailer is preliminary. I did it as a test.
Facebook or Myspace, some similar site. Make an author page, not a personal page
Twitter--create a twitter account in your author name
Blogging (Since you're reading this you obviously know about blogging)
Give stuff away, and require that to be in the "drawing" they need to spread the word.
INVITE INVITE INVITE--get your name out there.
Community resources--newspapers, church groups, writing groups, reading groups. Get used to standing up in front of people. Contact these groups about presentations.
www.copyright.gov (i.e., you don't need to go through one of those we'll-charge-through-the-nose companies. And you definitely don't need a lawyer to do it for you.) At this point, basic copyright registration is $35 for one item. The main advantage of paying $150 for having someone else do it for you is that they handle the hassles. Be careful, though. Some of those companies don't actually pay for the copyright--read the small print. They offer "copyright protection" and say they'll watch for copyright infringement. Most people say that you don't need official copyright registration because you've already got an electronic trail.
If you know other authors who are good with this, offer to trade your books for theirs.
"Good enough" is NOT good enough!
Do a grammar check--some of the things your eyes don't catch will show up in a grammar check.
Don't trust your spellchecker, and NEVER use replace-all
Read the book backwards, a line at a time. Time consuming but it helps
Anybody have other resources I could add to the list?