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Highfield gives tips on how to self-publish novels

By Staff | Feb 3, 2015

The reality of writing a novel can be an overwhelming process, since it’s not just sitting down at a keyboard and typing your thoughts on paper.

The process of once you are done writing, is probably one of the most difficult steps and that is getting it out to the public.

Finding a publisher or an agent to take your book, print and market it, is the obvious best-case scenario a writer can get themselves into.

But the reality of getting that kind of opportunity is obscure, so the aspiring novelist has to literally take things into their own hands if they want their book on the shelves for the public to read.

W.C. Highfield talked about the option of self-publishing in his Jan. 21, presentation during the Captiva Memorial Library’s “Afternoon Sojourns”.

Highfield is an accomplished fiction novelist, in which he has three to his name, the latest being “Sanibel’s Secret Bank.” He has also written “In Sun Down Under” and “Streets”. All two of three of his books are set in Southwest Florida, including Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach and the Florida Keys.

But Highfield took the route that 50-percent of writers take to publish their books – self publishing.

If the option of being signed by a big publisher is not available, there are a couple of other options available, Highfield said.

“You can go through a vanity publisher, where you pay a publisher to publish your book,” Highfield said. “They will do the marketing, but you are paying them. In most writing circles, I’ve heard a lot of harsh stories about vanity publishers. You are not only paying to produce the book, you are sort of turning control over to them. They are deciding on the cover of the book or re-writing a chapter.

“They are telling you how it is going to be done.”

Instead, Highfield chose to self-publish, which there are different options going this route, as well.

The first, a writer can go through an online service, such as Amazon, where you are paying them to format and print the book. Price is dependent on if a writer chooses a hard or soft cover and how long the book is.

“Other than formatting or printing the book, they don’t do anything else,” Highfield said. “The printing is laser, so it’s not as good quality as going directly to a book printing company.”

So in essence, the entire process of marketing, creative decision such as cover art and distribution is entirely in one’s own hands.

“You wear all the hats when you self-publish,” Highfield said. “You are marketing, accounting, you are making all the decisions.”

There are several steps a would-be novelist needs to take before they see their book in a bookstore, though.

The first step is buying an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), which is a book identifier based upon a 10-digit code. It is also required to buy a digital format number, if you want your book to be digitally produced for computers such as Kindle.

If the book is to be placed in a public library, a Library Congress Control Number is required, which is free and can be done online.

Copyrighting a book is a necessity, as well. A copyright ensures that one’s work will not be stolen. A form can be obtained from the Library of Congress to copyright a book.

During the writing process, editing is just as more important as writing it, Highfield said.

“Editing is 50-percent of writing,” Highfield said. “The process of looking it over again and again is important. I print the words on paper, because looking at it on a screen, you can easily miss mistakes.

“You can also get another set of eyes. You can pay editors or use someone you know who has a keen eye for the printed word.”

But the start of the entire process is to have an idea and let it blossom as words start to flow. Publishing options are out there, as well, to ensure the public has an opportunity to enjoy the hard work put into a novel.

To learn more about W.C. Highfield’s books, go to www.wchighfield.com/.