(Originally Published 11/25/2014*)
For my students and anyone who wants to know.....
There are many ways to publish a book for free.
Here are instructions on publishing through Amazon's Createspace.
Step 1: Tell a story that has never been told before.
If you don't know what you're going to write about, stay at Step 1 as long as you need to, unless you are one of my students, in which case I need to approve your manuscript by 2pm on December 1, 2014.
Step 2: Write your story, edit it, rewrite it and then have a few friends check it for grammar etc.
Step 3: Go to https://www.createspace.com and create an account.
Step 4: When it asks "What type of media are you considering publishing?" click on Book.
Heads up, if you find this step "challenging" then this endeavor might be a bit too hard to do on your own.
I'm sure that if your book is meant to be published, then the universe will send you help. Ask for it.
Step 5: Click "Set Up Your Book Now" then give it a working name. You can change it later.
If the pressure is too grand now, this whole thing might be overwhelming. Type something in and keep going. You will now get the screen to type in stuff like subtitle.
Have at it. You can change it later. Keep going!
Step 6: Alright. You have a choice. Get a free ISBN (this is like a fingerprint for your book so that it can be found around the world) and have Createspace be your publisher OR you can be your own publisher (what? what? I know, we live in a magical universe).
I created my own Publishing House that I call Santa Catalina Press. I haven't published books with that imprint yet, but in my head I have a stack of cards to hand out with a cool logo and "PUBLISHER" written under my name. I digress.
For most of you, stay in the "free" zone and get the CreateSpace ISBN.
You can't get around this step. If you don't want an ISBN, you don't want to publish a book and if you don't want to publish a book then definitely go catch up on your Netflix or whatever. No one is judging you, be free.
Step 7: Start making design decisions. You can change these later.
I suggest my students start with black and white interior with white paper and pick the SMALLEST book format -- click "Trim Size" (this means book size in normal English, but now you know a publishing word, isn't this fun?) then pick "5x8" Or another size.
Pick and keep going. You can change it all later before you publish.
Step 8: Download a formatted Word document. Once the template is on your computer, you can type in the things you are cued to enter (Title, author, ISBN, dedication....) then paste your manuscript in the template and have fun.
For a bunch of you, this is the last step you will need help with, in fact, you are probably already giddy with book joy, designing a cover and changing fonts and styles.
If working in a template is scary for you, I bet you have a friend who thinks this is fun. In fact, offer to credit them with Book Cover design and Book Interior Design.
Step 9: In case you haven't figured it out on your own, go play in the cover designer. Pick matte or glossy (go look at some of your favorite books to see which you like better) and then click "Build Your Cover Online" You will be launched into the Cover Creator and some of you might stay there for awhile. Have fun. Take screenshots of your different ideas and keep playing.
Step 10: Finish your manuscript (interior) and cover and submit them for approval by createspace. This could take about 24 hours, so don't expect that to be too fast. They check to make sure you put the right ISBN in, and that you don't have major formatting errors. If they see issues they flag you and tell you to either fix them or admit you WANT it that way.
Step 11: Final proof. Print it out OR order a copy (yep, your first copy!) but that will take longer.
Step 12: Make changes, submit for approval and finish up with the screens CreateSpace gives you regarding distribution. I suggest going with the free options, but you're free to be less free.
Step 13: You will be given the option to convert the book to an ebook on Kindle for free. Yes yes yes, do that. Unless you don't want to. But either way, please know this should be free.
I know about an author who was charged $1500 to convert their book file to an ebook and that author thought the fee was normal. No. No. No. Convert it for free, and then decide what you want the pricing and availability to be.
I choose the options that let me create "campaigns" that give my books away for free 5 days out of every 90.
You can't make your book permanently free using Amazon/Createspace/Kindle, but because YOU are the author, you can save your ebook to your computer and then distribute it directly to your readers yourself.
Step 14: Yayyyy! You published a book! As the author you can go back into CreateSpace and make changes to the cover and the interior. You can add chapters, fix grammar and move things around and then republish your book. I know. Too much right?
Step 15: Now that you've published a book, you can help others publish THEIR books, and maybe even make some money.
Go for it and expect the best.