A Bump Abroad: Lessons Learned from Publishing My First eBook

I’ll never forget the train ride I took from Florence to Rome. I was buzzing with creative energy after getting inspired in the city known for Renaissance art and being home to incredibly dedicated individuals who’ve impacted our culture for generations. 

As I flip through the journal that I took along with me for the journey, I read some of the most personally relatable sentences I’ve written, all spur-of-the-moment, all before I ever got paid a dime to write, all before I even knew I’d start a blog one day. 

“Breaking free from the comparison to others. The guidelines, the status quo, the “norm”. It will open you up to the world. It will free you.”

“I want to live. I want to create more. I want to watch things come together. I want to grow. I want to be compelling.” 

I get chills as I reread these words because at the time, I had no idea how deeply relevant they would one day be to me. I had no idea how this creative energy would stick to me, and continue to follow me for months and months before I finally realized the importance of utilizing my creativity. Today, I realize that I am a deeply creative person and when I don’t hone into this part of myself, I’m prone to feeling lost and unfulfilled.

I still struggle with letting go of the “status quo” as I let my nursing career continue to fade away. I’m approaching one year since I walked away from nursing and I know that my professional resume is becoming less and less impressive as the months pass me by. I’ve considered going back part-time, but would only do so if it allowed me enough time to still write because this is my true passion. 

Little did I know that the half-hazard travel reflections that I scribbled into that journal as I moved from city to city back in 2019 would be the beginnings of my first published piece of writing. Once I returned to the states, I couldn’t stop thinking about my need to create, and I knew my career wouldn’t help me meet those needs. I started this blog and my first story told of my experience in Florence (I’m not sure that this is a coincidence). 

Today, I’m approaching the release of my eBook, “A Bump Abroad”, which details my entire journey through Europe, during which I was 6 months pregnant. Today I’m sharing a few pointers for anyone who may be in the process of publishing an eBook, or hoping to do so in the future because I’ve learned quite a bit along the way. 

Outsourcing is important, but it can be a hit or miss.

It took me forever to draft out my 12,000-word eBook and eventually I got to a point where I felt like I just couldn’t look at it anymore. This is when I decided to try outsourcing some of the work. I figured I’d need to outsource the publishing and formatting work because I felt like I had no idea where to begin. I found someone through Fiverr and paid her $100 to help me through the publishing process (in hindsight, this wasn’t the best choice).

I later asked her to help me edit the final draft as well, for this service she asked for an additional $100. I agreed and sent the money.

Eventually, she sent me the edited version of the book without any publishing information. I stupidly approved the work, not knowing what I was doing, since I’d never used Fiverr before. For over a month I messaged her asking about the publishing information that I’d paid her for. “I’ll send it,” she kept responding. Finally, I reached out to customer service to help with the process. 

They told me it was too late to get any money back but they could try reaching out to the freelancer to get the information sent to me. She delivered but still, I was a bit disappointed. The “published guide” was obviously a pre-written guide, written for all clients with no personalized aspects. Over half of it discussed deciding on a topic to write about, drafting and editing your eBook – all things I’d already done and didn’t need any information on. 

She also sent me a YouTube video to show me how to publish through Amazon. 

Safe to say, I was quite disappointed with this but I realized that’s the risk that comes along with hiring a freelancer to help you. Sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised, other times, you’re not.  Which leads me to my next point…

You probably can publish on your own if you just take some time to research it

As long as you have a basic understanding of using technology, you can likely get your book published for free. I learned this lesson the hard way.

After being disappointed with the outsourced help I received, I realized I could have just paid someone to edit the book and done my own research on publishing and just gotten it done myself.

All I really had to do was get the book drafted and convert it for free using Draft2Digital and then it was ready to upload to any site. Also, this website can publish the book for you so it’s a one-stop shop. Not to mention, it’s free. I’ll delve a little more into this in the next section where I break down the full process.

My eBook Publishing Process

Here’s a brief overview of the process I followed for eBook publishing:

  • I originally began with a book manuscript template in Pages, but Word also offers some book templates for non-Mac users. I just personally liked the options in Pages better. 
  • Once my eBook was drafted out I paid a graphic designer to design a cover for me. I read that having a professionally designed cover is super important and I don’t find this surprising. Book covers are often what draw me in initially so I figured it was worth it to pay someone for this. To offer perspective, here’s a comparison of the cover I designed (the first one) versus the one the graphic designer made me (the second):

*As you can see, the graphic designer’s version is much cleaner, and the title is bolder and clearer. This was freelancing work that I was very happy with.

  • Once you’ve got your final book draft and your cover art, you’re ready to format. I used the website Draft2digital.com to convert my book from a word doc to the EPUB format, which is required by most distributors. Draft2digital also distributes your book to multiple stores as well so it’s a win-win.
  • Next, I went to itunesconnect.apple.com to publish my eBook in the Apple Book store. I later realized that this is one of the stores that Draft2Digital works with, so I could have skipped this step.
  • I then published it through Amazon. I originally enrolled my book in the KDP Select program which can help you sell more copies, but decided later to opt-out. The reason I decided to do this was that KDP Select requires that you exclusively publish to Kindle for the first 90 days, and I wanted my book to be available on more sites. 
  • Ironically, I came across the site Reedsy shortly before publishing my book (I think this just shows that the timing was just right). I was contacted by Reedsy to join their book reviewer program. After joining their site, I found that you can actually submit books to their site and that it’s a great way to get your name out there as a new author. So, I submitted my book to them to help increase the number of readers I get.
  • And now we wait for my book to release!

Pre-order “A Bump Abroad” now!

“A Bump Abroad” will be launching on the following dates:

Pre-order now!

Amazon: 7/8/21

Apple Books: 7/9/21

Barnes & Noble: 7/10/21

Google Play: 7/9/21

Are you looking to publish your own writing one day? Have you published an ebook in the past? What dilemmas did you run into/what’s getting in your way? Let me know in the comments!

With love,

Sophia

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