By: Jenna Karmali, Fadi Haider, Maria and Danielle Hurd
Sydney Ball is a Calgarian who has published two available books, The Girl Who Knows the Birds and Tales of Underdown. Only in ninth grade, Syd turned to writing during the pandemic when she was forced to select a course for the upcoming semester. She is now a published poet, author, and active member of the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society (AWCS). Zed News YYC interviewed her and discovered all about her journey through the world of writing and literature at such a young age.
What have you learned about self publishing that you would like to share with other young writers?
Sure. I'm self publishing, I'm one of those people who over plans and I was researching about it before the book was done. And so the first thing I would say is, before you even think about publishing it, you have to get the thing to a place where it's actually done. Because it's much easier to focus on the figuring out aspect of it, because it is a little bit of a learning curve. Once you have the actual product finished, get it to where you want it to be, where if it went live tomorrow, you'd be happy with it. And then I would, I guess, mechanically, the easiest way to do it is through Amazon. I'm not super well versed on the other forms, but there are a few other websites.
But Amazon is the most well known when you give someone an Amazon link, they know where they tend to know where it is, unless they live in a very small, or in one of the very few countries that don't doesn't have it, but like you're in Canada, they probably know. So I would do it on Amazon, I'm setting up your author page, it's actually quite an easy thing. It's very intuitive, kind of, you know, say you were setting up an Instagram profile for the first time the buttons are labeled, you kind of just go through and click the buttons and you end up with a kind of like a template. And then Amazon, you can download templates. And you can do it through words.
So if you don't have that, maybe borrow your parents or get a limited subscription just to get it set up. But you can get that template and you put it into Word and you can pick your page size. And then you know how big your pages are, because they show up like that on Word. And you can copy and paste all your, all your beautiful writing into your templates. And it just makes it really easy, because then you know, everything's gonna fit.
The other big thing, if you want to learn more about self publishing, like the actual mechanics of it, there's a bunch of really awesome YouTube videos. That's where I did most of my research, other than being part of the short story collection initially…. Online is a great resource. I would also I guess another big form of self publishing is the marketing itself because it falls completely on you.
Whereas based on insider info from people who are publishing, the marketing also falls on you even if its traditional publishing. You need to have a website before you publish the book because, say, you published 10 books, it would be really inconvenient if you don't have the website and … they can also find the next 10 books if they really liked it.
Designing a Cover
For the cover itself, I did not take the photograph. But I designed it – kind of putting the text over. I picked that, and kind of the back, I designed all that stuff. It was really easy. They have a cover creator, where you can input your things on the actual Amazon (website). So I would recommend using that. It looks very old, but it works very well. And then it's and then for pricing. That's of course, a thing that's up to you. Just make sure that you do your math beforehand.
And you're making enough that Amazon makes a certain amount that it needs to make and that you still make say, I don't know at least one cent because you don't want to be losing money based on production costs. So just like making sure you're well educated about that you could make it so that then you're not making any profit, which is fine, just like make sure you're not losing money. Because that would be very sad to find out that someone's ordered 100 copies and you've just lost $100.