by R.F. Kristy
The intelligence and allure of cats has always enchanted me. Writing the Inca Cat Series arose out of the blue. I had never dreamed of self-publishing stories for children. My specialty, due to my work with the United Nations, concentrated on reports of a technical nature — a world much removed from the milieu of children’s books. However, I love reading detective stories. So when I started writing about my cats Inca and Cara, the ideas for mystery-themed adventures started flowing.
The Cats Who Crossed Over From Paris, Book 1 of the series, came to me from reading rather than from living or observation. Christmas Cats followed and the third, Cats in Provence is currently bubbling. I don’t think we choose our genre, I think that a genre chooses us. Or should I say, my love of detective stories and living with my cats Inca and Cara made the choice inevitable.
Despite my new-found passion for writing the Inca Cat Series, I found out that as a newcomer to this competitive arena, having an appetite for writing alone is not sufficient. In my enthusiasm to get my thoughts on paper, I made several errors.
While I reviewed the internet and read several articles about the positives and negatives and compared the various self-publishing sources such as BookBaby, CreateSpace and Ingram Sparks. What I did not pay much attention to, to my cost, were the technical specifications required for illustrations in ebooks and paperbacks. A mistake I had made was not expressly requesting the graphic illustrator of my choice to prepare the illustrations in the correct format. While the illustrations were accepted by both BookBaby (for the first book) and CreateSpace (for the second book), they correctly pointed out that the specifications would not provide the best output of the illustrations in the printed book. Worst of all, when I tried to upload to Ingram Sparks, the illustrated cover was not accepted.
Another mistake was not fully understanding how the self-publishing sources work. For example, for The Cats Who Crossed Over From Paris I decided to go with BookBaby. BookBaby’s technical support is strong, but a complete newcomer can still run into trouble. I found this out after I clicked on the wrong buttons for purchasing the printed version and the ebook which had appeared later on in the screen pages. This necessitated paying double after the book had been developed. In my ignorance, I had not asked the correct questions and talked my way through the whole process with their support services.
In a nutshell, here is my advice to new authors about to embark on the journey of self-publishing:
Decide on your self-publishing agent while you are writing but prior to hiring an illustrator.
Contact the chosen self-publishing sources and ask them to provide you with the exact specifications for the book. This includes requirements for the text formatting and layout, as well as anything your illustrator needs to know about image sizes, bleeds, or preferred resolution. This information may be available on their respective sites, but sometimes for an unfamiliar reader so much technical jargon can be overwhelming. My advice is to contact the self-publishing source either by telephone or email and ask specific questions about their requirements.
Above all, give some thought to your marketing strategy and work with a specialist to start devising a marketing plan before the book is published. You want to hit the ground running as soon as your book is available.
At the end of the day, I was pleased with the end results of both books produced by BookBaby and CreateSpace. My hard-earned lessons will help me move forward as a self-publisher as I complete the third book in the Inca Book Series.
See R. F. Kristi’s books here: