The Mechanics Of It: Self-publishing Part I

I’ve got something fun for today. Lara Schiffbauer recently self-published her debut novel, Finding Meara. (Make sure you check it out, all links at the bottom, because it’s terrific.) Because I know little about the mechanics of self-publishing, I thought it’d be fun to learn about her experience. It’s a lot of good information, so I split it up into two posts.
The question for today is about formatting e-books. How do you get your e-book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble?
There are several different methods of getting an e-book onto one of retail sites, meaning Amazon, Barnes and Noble, itunes, Kobo, and then other lesser known sites.
The first is to do the formatting yourself, or hire someone to do it for you (they usually do the file conversion), and then upload onto each site individually, by yourself. The downside to that is, of course, time and the learning curve to get formatting for an e-book figured out. Depending on the person you hire (if you chose to go that route) there might be more expense involved. I have a friend who hires out his formatting and is charged $40 per novella length story, but it all depends on who you hire.
The second is to use Createspace for Amazon (if you’re going through them to create a paper book), and then use Smashwords or Draft2Digital to upload to the other sites. Createspace charges about $79 to complete the formatting, file conversion and do the uploading. Smashwords and Draft2Digital don’t charge up-front, but they do take a percentage of your royalties, with Draft2Digital taking a little more than Smashwords.
Smashwords used to be the only other company out there to convert files to e-reader documents and then upload to the different retailers. I learned about Draft2Digital earlier this year and decided to give them a try, despite the fact I adore Mark Coker.
The reasons I chose to go with Draft2Digital are numerous, but started with the need to save time and the promise that I would have a professional product without having to do anything major.
D2D delivered on both counts. I sent them my file (cleaned up a little, but not to Smashwords standards) and within minutes, I kid you not, I had three professionally formatted e-book files. You provide them the information and they create a title page, dedication page, linkable Table of Contents, everything you could need. They can create a .pdf file they will submit to Createspace for you, if you want.
They publish to the four major e-book outlets, including Amazon, which Smashwords doesn’t. By going through D2D, all of my e-book sales are neatly categorized in one place, with some excellent sales reports. They also give you any files that you convert through them. With Smashwords, you don’t get to keep the converted files and use them outside of Smashwords’s distribution.
As a newbie to self-publishing, D2D was a godsend.
I never realized there was so much to it. When I started writing, I didn’t realize the huge learning curve I’d go through. Not only with my writing and editing. But with querying agents. And for others, querying publishers. Or even self-publishing. There is so much to learn.
Next time, Lara will talk about how she did her cover. And it’s a really cool process, so make sure you come back.
Here is everything you need to know about Lara and Finding Meara.
To keep her safe, privileged Hazel Michelli’s parents never told her she was adopted. She found out the truth when the danger her parents feared ripped apart the front door of her Denver penthouse and stole her away to the Realm, an alternative land where magic and monsters exist.
Hazel escapes back to Colorado with the help of a friendly Firecat, but not before she has a terrifying family reunion with her sadistic birth father, Lucian. She learns Lucian must sacrifice a daughter to maintain immortality. When his planned sacrifice–Hazel’s half-sister Meara–went missing, he sent his minion to find her and got lucky when he found Hazel instead. With her blood Lucian not only maintains his immortality, but obtains unlimited power to take over the Realm. Hazel is moved to the top of the sacrificial short list.
Home once again, Hazel wants to hide until the sacrificial window closes and then reclaim her comfy life. But Meara remains in danger, and Hazel is the only one who can return to the Realm to save her. Afraid, yet compelled by her adoptive parents to protect her newfound sister, Hazel races between both worlds, searching for the little girl while attempting to stay one step ahead of Lucian. Their lives, and the future of the Realm, leave her no room for failure.

About Lara
Lara Schiffbauer is a writer, licensed clinical social worker, mother of two, wife of one, and a stubborn optimist. She loves Star Wars, Lego people, science, everyday magic and to laugh. You can find Lara on several different social media sites, with all links listed on her website, Her debut novel, Finding Meara, a contemporary fantasy, released in March and is available at

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11 Responses

  1. I just started writing on Amazon’s Createspace and there is no ref. to a any cost unless you want to use their professional services @ $99. If I read you right you are saying they charge $79 upfront to do anything. As I understand them now I am doing everything there for free. Are you suggesting there is a fee Amazon springs on me later in the process?

  2. Hi, Gary! Thanks for commenting! No, there isn’t a charge upfront for anything on Createspace. It’s only if you want their services that you pay. For example, they have editing services, you can buy expanded distribution, they will provide interior book formatting or e-book formatting for different prices, they’ll design your cover for a price. The e-book formatting costs $69 (I got it wrong above). That’s what I was referring to.

    I have to say Createspace has been very nice to work with. Any questions I’ve had they’ve been prompt to respond to and while I know they want to sell me services, they aren’t pushy at all.

    If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask and I’ll try my best to answer! Congratulations on writing!

  3. Great informationi to get Lara! So much I didn’t know about this and it’s great to find out. The fee isn’t too bad either. And I’m so excited about your book! You’re amazing!

  4. Thanks, Leigh. It is pretty crazy how much there is to getting a story from our heads to a reader’s hands – whether a writer goes traditional or self-pub. It isn’t a bad fee at all. I was totally going to go with Createspace’s services, but then ran into Draft2Digital, and decided to give them a try.

  5. OMGosh,

    What a great post by a seriously wonderful published author:)

    Having finished WIP#1, I now begin PHASE 2 and may well go down Indy Road one day, so I’m bookmarking this post for sure.

    Thanks Suzi, for having Laura on your blog 🙂

  6. Thank you, Mark! Congratulations on finishing WIP #1. That’s a huge accomplishment and I hope you celebrated in a big way!

    @Gina & Dana – I’m glad you enjoyed the post! There is so much information and different ways of going about self-publishing, it can be overwhelming, for sure!

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