PEP Squad, a book about a secret boarding school for teenage spies, hit the shelves in 2014. As far as I knew, things were going okay. The publisher wrote to tell me the book was included in the 2014 edition of New Writing from Ireland, the annual rights catalogue published by Ireland Literature Exchange. All good. So a few months later I offered the publisher the manuscript for the second book in the trilogy. A few months further along, after taking into account sales figures and the fact that the Irish Arts Council wouldn’t be funding the company’s children’s books in the coming year, the publisher declined my offer.
So, for two years I concentrated on writing other stuff, even though I had book 2 ready to go, and friends who had read the first book were asking about the second. Then I decided to do something I never thought I would: self-publish PEP Squad Freshman Year as an eBook.
In order to do this, I needed a cover, and I have to say that the people at Mercier Press, PEP Squad’s original publisher, were super helpful. They sent me the original files of the cover so that I could then send them on to my graphic designer to modify. And voila, PEP Squad Freshman Year was available on Kindle.
When I told my reading community about it, some immediately downloaded the Kindle edition, but others asked for a print book. After thinking about it for a day, I realised I wanted a print edition too, so I started looking into how to go about this. Though I’m still investigating printing options, I have found out that before a book goes to print there are a lot of steps a (self)publisher must take. In addition to structural edits (does the story make sense?) and copy edits (is all the grammar and spelling correct?) there is formatting, which includes the title page, publishing page and formatting the text itself. And, even though we shouldn’t judge books by them, the cover! Once all this is completed you need to get a separate ISBN (International Standard Book Number) for each format of the book (print, Kindle, etc). A print edition also needs a bar code which makes it easy for bookshops to scan the book at the checkout. Once the book is printed you must lodge a copy with the National Library of Australia (having ordered a CiP number in advance of this), and depending on what state you live in, you may also need to lodge a copy at your State and/or Parliamentary Library.
The most exciting part for me (heck, it’s ALL exciting!) was creating a logo for my publishing company. When applying for the ISBN you need to include the name of the publisher. If you look at most companies – not just publishing companies – they have logos. These often appear on the spine of a book and on the title page, so of course I wanted a cool logo. Being more of a words person than a picture person, I was going to outsource my logo creation, but then I had a cool idea. The company is called Omitch Press, so I wanted to make a logo out of a stylised “O” and “M”. I thought the sun setting behind mountains would be cool, using the letter “O” as the sun, and the “M” as the mountains. Then I added some sunbeams. Then, when my son pointed out that the white space under the logo looked like an open book, I knew the logo was perfect.
Once the book is printed, you need to decide how you are going to sell it and how much you are going to sell it for. Options include online vendors (including your own website!), bricks and mortar bookshops and markets. You also need to decide the best way to get your book to retailers and customers. This is called distribution. Some printing companies will also distribute your books for you. It is the print and distribution part of the process, the part I cannot do myself, that I am stuck on at the moment.
Once I have that figured out, the print edition will be on its way. Stay tuned…