Updated: Nov 9, 2021
It's hard for a first time author to find a publisher. So I assumed and did not even try to find a publisher for my first book. Thus I embarked on self-publishing the book. I thought it would be easy-peasy, right? Wrong! After all, what's there to publish a book? Write it, edit it, give it to a printer and then sell the copies. I was soon to discover the many aspects of self-publishing.
Eventually, writing the book was the easy part. Editing was hard even though I had a competent editor, there were numerous back and forths of correcting, re-writing, adding and polishing the manuscript. I had to consider how the reader would accept the matter, were there any repetitions, hard to understand sections, plot-holes and other such issues. Perhaps an established publisher with experience would have helped me in these processes but I had to do a lot of it myself with my editor.
Then came the process of page-setting. I learned that verso page meant the left side or the back side of the page, recto page meant the right side or the front side of the page. I had to take the decision to start every chapter and section on a recto page even if that meant keeping the verso page blank. Like websites today, the use of white space is encouraged in printing books. Then I decided to use photographs as illustrations throughout the book. How would these look? Should I print them separately on better quality photo paper and in colour perhaps? Or should I just print them within the text of the book in black and white and on the regular paper of the book? We eventually decided on the latter.
To keep up with the times I was encouraged to use QR codes to enable readers to be directly taken from the printed page to a web location. So should I use them for photo albums and for videos too? We eventually decided to use these sparingly, only 4 of them to take the reader directly to the photo albums on the website corresponding to the sections of the book.
This process took a long time with 14 edits before I could approve the manuscript for printing. The print font too had to be changed after we saw the printed book dummy and realized that a serif font would be better. The cover too went through a few iterations before we were happy with the final product.
The ISBN number in India can be obtained free of charge from the Raja Rammohun Roy National Agency for ISBN under the Government of India. The website was not user friendly and it took some effort to apply and finally get the number. This number would clash with Amazon numbers when we tried to get the book to sell on that platform. To convert the book into kindle form and sell it as an e-book was also not as easy as it would seem. Many learning curves had to be negotiated to get all this done.
Whilst it was great to have the copyright page say that I published the book myself, it belies the effort and pain that went into the entire process. I learned a lot about self-publishing.