Making Progress on this Self-Publishing Journey

I feel like I’ve been talking about working on this kids book forever! The self-publishing journey is a long one when you jump into it with no idea what you’re doing. Though I figure that’s probably how a lot of people start.

It’s been kind of tough to continue working on a kids book about going to their first comic con when all the cons around are being cancelled. But it’s also been a good way to focus on something positive. So I’m happy to say we finally have our front and back covers done and ready!

If you need catching up on what I’m talking about, click here to read the last update on the book progress, where we decided to self-publish.

I'm going to my first comic con kids book

The Self-Publishing Journey So Far

I had no idea what I was getting into when we decided to self-publish this children’s book. Putting together a book with illustrations is not easy! We had the story and an idea for each illustration, but we didn’t have anything else. So this is the progress so far, and the things we ran into along the way. It seems like every time I tried to do one thing, I’d have to go back and do three things before I could get to that other thing!

Choosing the book size and cover

The book will be 8.5″ x 8.5″, softcover with plans to also release a hardcover edition next. We started on the illustrations before we decided on that size, so now we are trying to make them fit the final size. The book was originally planned to be a different size when we were publishing through Mascot Books, but when we decided to self-publish we decided the square shape worked better.

Learning new programs

I have been using a really old copy of Photoshop 7 for the last 15 years and finally decided I needed to upgrade to Photoshop 2020. Wow! So glad this pushed me to upgrade. My one complaint is that I find it really annoying that it’s an online subscription. I don’t have the best internet so it slows me down sometimes. But the new program has everything previous versions do, but with way more options. I am loving it! There’s still a lot of the new bells and whistles to learn, but I have a good enough grasp on it to do the book pages.

The other program I needed to update was MS Word. I haven’t had a copy of MS Word or Office since they stopped coming with your PC. I’ve always just used the free Open Office program, which works fine with Word documents. But the page tutorials were all for MS Word so it made it much easier to follow if I was using the same program. It took me a bit to get the hang of the new MS Word but I am confident about using the book page templates after a little help from watching tutorial videos.

Working with PDFs

The big thing I needed to learn after the new programs, was converting my files to a PDF and embedding the fonts. So of course I needed to download another program that converts it for me. The program worked great, but kept changing the size no matter what I tried. So I found a website where you can upload a PDF and change the size to whatever you want. After that I finally got all the greenlights on the PDF file checker for book printing.

Speaking of fonts…

OMG, fonts. So many fonts. Nothing I already had looked right on the cover so I started searching for just the right font. Once I ventured off Word and Photoshop for new options, my head was swimming with a million different choices. Then when I found the perfect font, I learned I needed to purchase the font, along with a license to use it commercially. That was an expense I didn’t even think about. Luckily, it was a small expense, and I felt all official after purchasing it. We went with BadaBoom Pro, which is a comic book style font. The next step is choosing the interior pages font.

Making a big investment

It was a little scary to make the $300 purchase for a ten pack of ISBNs. Like, “Wow, things are getting serious now!” Lol… But we will need that little barcode on the back of each book, and each edition of the book needs a different one. Softcover, hardback, e-book…they all have their own ISBN. At $125 a pop, it was better to go with the ten pack bundle. Plus we now have extra to apply to the next book! I have no idea what it will be about, but now that I’m learning all this stuff I want to be able to use it again.

*There are cheaper ISBN options through services that buy them in bulk and sell them. They seemed kind of iffy, so we went straight to the source and got them from Bowker.

Next Steps

Now that the front and back covers are done and we know what sizes we are working with, it’s time to start working on the interior! The next thing I’m working on will be the title page, with the book dedication and copyright info. We’ll need to decide on a font for that but will probably go with something simple.

Then I’ll get to work resizing the illustrations and figuring out where to put the text on each page. This is going to be a big challenge and will probably require some things to be reworked a bit. Now that we’ve crossed the first hurdle of the cover, I’m excited to get going on the rest!

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