Step 1: Create a Smashords Account.
This was very quick and easy, and it is FREE. There were a few similar sites that offered something similar, but after reading reviews, looking at fees and percentages, and looking at ease of use, I decided that this seemed the best route for someone who has never done this before.
Step 2: Format Using the Smashwords Style Guide.
This is a free book available for download. It has been very helpful, but the formatting is taking me forever, because I did not do it correctly to start with. This will be one-hundred times easier for my next book, because I will format correctly from the start. It really isn't difficult this time, but it is time consuming. I actually thought it would be good to go, I am pretty tech savvy, and I have used Microsoft word for years for countless documents. I am learning a lot from the style guide, such as "do not use tab to create paragraph indents." Microsoft actually has a way to set the tabs to automatically format, pretty cool for next time around -not so cool this time when I had to undo three hundred pages of tabs. I am not actually done with this step yet. I worked on it for an entire day. I am currently at page 213 of 308 in the style guide, so hopefully I will be done soon.
Step 3: Type in Your Title.
I have chosen the title :Pura Vida: A Memoir about International Love and Growing Up.
Step 4: Set a Release Date.
You can choose between immediately and pre-order. From what I have read it is better to offer a pre-order. You can generate sales before it is released, making it seem as if you have higher first day sales, which in turn increases your popularity, thus increasing future sales.
Step 5: Create a Short and Long Description of your book.
This is super important! This is what will convince readers to buy your book!
Step 6: Set Your Sale Price and Sampling Percentage.
I struggled on this one. I want my book to be affordable and for more people to buy it, but I think setting a very low price will send the message that it is not that great of a book. On the other hand, setting a higher price may not be smart since I really have no writing credentials yet.
The sampling percentage is the percentage of the book that readers can have for free before buying your book. Smashwords recommends at least 15% for longer books.
Step 6: Choose a Category for Your Books
I am categorizing my book as nonfiction: biography: personal memoir. I am also choosing a secondary categorization of nonfiction: travel
That is as far as I have gotten, but I know I still have to create tags and upload my book. My understanding is that after I upload I don't have to do anything -unless you count marketing.
So, the anser is, yes, self-publishing is a lot of work. I am doing it anyway. I do not want to spend money on a book that may or may not sell and I think it will be very satisfying to actually have a book that I created and published from start to finish on my own. What do you think? Is it better to self-publish or to hire a publisher?