Finally, my short novella, The Gift Garden, has been published.

I opted to self-publish this after submitting it to a handful of small presses and having it rejected. I eventually lost hope in it ever seeing the light of day, until I decided to just do it myself. Why not? I do that with music all the time and never give it a second thought. I really don’t see the difference when it comes to literature.

Anyway, the book is out, it looks awesome, and I’m very happy to have got it this far. I’ve had some really great help from some very generous, and smart people, without them this thing wouldn’t be anywhere near as great as it is.

The cover is by Ryan W. Bradley, and it’s a vibrant, intense image that wraps around the entire book. I opted to have it printed with a matte finish and it really looks great. There are some pictures of the book below, but I’m not sure they really show the quality of the cover. It has a very smooth feel to it, which I really like. Having seen a few CreateSpace books, the gloss finish tends to look very shiny and isn’t to my taste at all.

The Gift Garden Cover

The Gift Garden back cover

Inside I went with cream pages. Again, I’ve seen a few self-published books with white pages, and it looks cheap in my opinion. The Palatino Linotype font on cream is classic and just makes it look like a “proper book” (cough).

The Gift Garden interior The Gift Garden interior quote

Overall the experience of using CreateSpace was fairly smooth, if occasionally frustrating. Their online tools are somewhat dated in appearance – they work, but they could use an overhaul (as someone who works in the software development world, this irks me a lot). The real trouble was in preparing the actual manuscript. I made things harder for myself because I used images inside the book, and for printing purposes, all images must be at least 300dpi. Not being a graphics person, I had to do some homework on all of this, and quickly discovered that Microsoft Word was definitely NOT the right tool for preparing a manuscript for printing. It can do basic layout, but when it comes to using images, the best package is Adobe’s InDesign, at least this is what I found out. That in itself has a learning curve, but it’s not too challenging.

The Gift Garden interior trees

Basically, I would say if you are going to self-publish and are unsure about internal layout stuff, then either get someone who does know what they’re doing to do it for you, or be prepared to do some learning. I went back and forth multiple times with CreateSpace, uploading different versions of my ms, checking, re-checking. Even with the cover, and I’m so grateful Ryan was a patient and accommodating guy to work with.

I’m overall very pleased with the quality of the book. For what it is, an 80 page novella/novelette, I think it’s great. I should have given myself more time for the whole process, and I’ve certainly learned a lot about book layout. At the end of the day, the book I wanted to share is out there for people to read, and it has been done my way, with no one telling me what I should or shouldn’t do, and I think that aspect – control – is the most important and vital part of self-publishing. Does crap get self-published? Of course. But take a look at the shelves of commercial mainstream fiction. How much of that is garbage? This isn’t even a remotely valid rebuff to self-publishers any more. It’s straight up bullshit. If your work is good, has value, it will find its audience.

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