Today’s generation can easily upload and publish a book for free online. But with so many potential authors, those who choose to self-publish face the challenge of standing out from the ever-growing online crowd.
It’s not enough to just self-publish a book. It needs to be an author’s best work — free of errors and formatted in a clean, inviting way with a cover that draws in potential readers.
Amarillo author Ryan McSwain should know. He’s currently self-publishing his second book, “Four Color Bleed,” to Amazon.
“My main advice would be to do your research, make sure that you have the book edited as well as you can and have it proofread with as many sets of eyes you can get on it,” McSwain said.
“It’s important to put a book out there that you’re going to be proud of and to represent your work.”
McSwain, 35, writes fiction in sci-fi, fantasy and horror. He said if there’s anything a writer is uncomfortable doing — like designing the cover or doing the layout of the book — they should think about hiring a person who is familiar with performing those crucial tasks.
Amarillo native, author and licensed professional counselor Tracy Schamburg recently published “The Common Sense Guide to Landing on Your Feet,” the second book in her “Common Sense” series.
Schamburg, 52, said it’s important for an author to know its audience and how to approach the book.
But most of all, editing remains the core concept of creating clean and concise work.
“It’s still essential, I think, to have your own editor,” Schamburg said. “I have my own editor that is invaluable. You have to have more than one set of eyes.”
In the end, though, Schamburg said being knowledgeable and confident in the work is crucial. Editors proofread, but authors must have the ability to write and organize their work into a book that’s easy to view for readers.
Formatting the electronic pages is also important.
“If you’re going to self-publish something, I would highly recommend having someone that is familiar with editing and formatting books,” Schamburg said. “You really have to have someone that knows what they’re doing.”
Formatting the book across all reading platforms also plays an important role, she said. The way the text is displayed on screens can differ with different tablets and computers.
McSwain agrees that the overall appearance of the book cover plays an important role — including the cover.
“Of course you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover,” McSwain said. “It’s the first thing people see, so it’s very important that you have something out there that shows the quality of the work that’s inside the book.”
McSwain said getting plugged into a local writing community is also helpful when writing and publishing. Amarillo has a local group, Texas High Plains Writers, that meets bi-monthly — on the third Saturday in odd-numbered months.
McSwain was the featured speaker during Saturday’s meeting at the Chase Tower.
“The encouragement and assistance makes a world of difference,” McSwain said.
Meet the author: Tracy Schamburg
“The Common Sense Guide to Landing on Your Feet,” the latest release in Schamburg’s “Common Sense” series, was recently released on Amazon.
“This is a book for everyone that has ever faced a challenge, overwhelmed and unable to find solutions,” Schamburg said. “’Landing on Your Feet,’ the most recent in the series, has got classical skills in a very big banged up format with 50 chapters.”
Schamburg, who was born in Amarillo and graduated from Tascosa High School in 1983, resides in Fenton, Mo., and has had a private practice in St. Louis since 2003. Over the course of her years as a counselor, Schamburg had several clients tell her to put her work and knowledge into book form.
Her first book in the series, “The Common Sense Guide to Repairing Your Marriage,” is currently available as a digital book on Amazon and will soon be available in paperback.
Similar to its preceding book in the series, the format of “Landing on Your Feet” is written in a blog style. Schamburg said “Landing on Your Feet” gives people a manual to maneuvering through adversity with tenacity, determination and resilience.
“There’s a lot of things in here that people hopefully should know already, but there’s something about being reminded about what the most practical approach is,” Schamburg said. “That’s helpful, to have a tangible remembrance of that right in front of you that you can land set, that you can look at right in front of you every day.”
Schamburg plans to add to her series later this year and continue to target topics such as relationships, adversity and parenting.
Meet the author: Ryan McSwain
On the other spectrum of a writing spectrum is McSwain, a stay-at-home dad and freelance writer.
He used to work in ministry but focused on writing when his son was born a few years ago. He wrote “Monsters All the Way Down” in 2014 and decided to self-publish the book because he found more control in formatting and distributing it.
“I decided the best way to find an audience for the book was to go ahead and self-publish,” McSwain said. “Several agents and publishers expressed an interest in ‘Monsters All the Way Down,’ but it didn’t lead anywhere.”
“Monsters All the Way Down” is currently on Amazon.
McSwain’s latest novel, “Four Color Bleed,” is available for pre-order at ryanmcswain.com and will be released in August.
“Four Color Bleed” tells a story about comics, super heroes, nostalgia and the nature of reality.
McSwain plans to publish multiple books in several of his genres, including sci-fi, fantasy and horror.
“It’s easier now than ever before to self-publish your own work,” said Amarillo Author Ryan McSwain. “Especially with Amazon. Amazon is able to reach so many people but there are other outlets and ways that you can find people who are looking for something exciting to read.”