On the Self-Publishing Learning Curve

Featuring another author, Aroian Editorial is pleased to publish this guest post by first-time dystopian novelist Leonard J. DiSanza, author of Seeds of Change.


As a writer who comes from a career background in electrical engineering, I have always prided myself on the ability to extensively research the topics I write about. I also tend to think of myself as someone who applies logic to most everything that I do. For those reasons, I felt it was important for me to leave certain tasks in the self-publishing process to professionals as opposed to tackling them myself.

I hired developmental editor, Karen Aroian; book cover designer, Derek Murphy; book formatter, Jake Muelle; and book narrator, Amy Gravlee. Each were experienced in their field and all of them did a great job in readying my book for publishing in print, eBook and Audible format.

What I had not considered was that after uploading my transcript for publication, I might need to make changes in some or all of these areas. That leads to my little sob story that follows.

Oh, I was so pleased when my format and cover design people sent me the EPUB and MOBI files for my manuscript along with a beautiful jpg cover. Previous to receiving these files, I had done a little research and was aware that Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) eBooks could use formatted MOBI and EPUB files and that these might be better to submit than raw PDF or Word document (.docx) files.

I also was aware that the MOBI file format was specific to KDP. I had received my manuscript in both MOBI and EPUB formats, which were nice since other e-publishers can use EPUB files. My formatting guy recommended I submit the MOBI file to KDP and not the EPUB file. It wasn’t until later that I realized why it was important to use this file.

Anyway, I uploaded the cover and manuscript files successfully and, eureka. Using the KDP previewer, I could see my eBook! It looked great. It had nice text, headers, and other formatting. I was proud.

That initial euphoria quickly vanished when I realized I still had ISBN and other content changes to make. Now if that manuscript had simply been a formatted PDF, like what had been used for the print version of the book, then the problem would have been easy to resolve. In fact, I had been in that exact situation the previous day and had used a free program called Nitro, though I certainly could have used Adobe or other programs, to edit the formatted PDF file. The eBook MOBI file, however, presented a more difficult problem. How does one edit such a file type?

After some additional research, I learned that MOBI files are complicated layered little beasties. Despite that complication, I was able to find a potential, though convoluted solution to my problem, or so I thought. While I could not directly edit the MOBI file, I could edit the EPUB file using a free downloadable editor called SIGIL. After editing I would need to find a way to convert this back to a MOBI file. Using SIGIL turned out to be easy. Now all I need was a file converter.

Fortunately, I found an online site (www.epubconverter.com), which converts EPUB to MOBI. Excellent! This site does all the work and creates a file of the same name with a MOBI extension. I found the entire process to be quick and easy.

Unfortunately, while the original formatted MOBI file included all the nice text, header styling, and important formatting, the new MOBI file made from the edited EPUB file did not. Bummer, all my pretty formatting was gone.

At this point, I realized it was time to punt. Since I had used a professional for this task, I had not learned how to format an ebook. Looking back, maybe this was a task I should have learned, but it was too late to do so now. Clearly, it was time to quit screwing around and request a new corrected MOBI file from my format professional.

The astute reader might ask, “Why didn’t you just do that in the first place?” My answer, unfortunately, is impatience and stubbornness. I didn’t want to wait for a delivery that could be days or even weeks away. Anyway, I assumed I could easily edit after the fact. I was wrong.

And so it goes. I still have much learning to do in this self-publishing process. Wait until you hear about my foibles with Amazon and Facebook advertising. Be happy to tell you about that another time! Until then, this is Lenny, www.LeonardJDiSanza.com, and I’m out of here!

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