Earlier this month, I talked about my plan for publication.
The first step was oodles of research. I've done that.
The problem with research is that it can become an end in itself. Many people (myself included) don't want to make a major leap until we're good and ready. If we just do enough research and preparation we'll be better prepared to make it - whatever "it" is - a success. The problem is that there is never "enough" preparation you can do to really feel confident, so you can spend an eternity talking about it. and never actually doing it.
At some point, you have to accept that the leap still needs to be taken, and it will be uncomfortable.
So, the real first step was to look into publishing/distribution options, make a decision, and then determine the formatting requirements for the chosen outlets.
Notice the "decision" part? That is what turns this into a real step rather than simply more research.
Why start there?
Because until I decided where I was going to publish, I couldn't give a designer any meaningful instructions. There are several different e-book formats out there, and formatting for print is different from electronic distribution. Having a concrete target means you can talk about tangible products, so choosing outlets logically came ahead of talking to a book designer.
And the decision is...
There's probably all sorts of arguments one way or another, but to get me off the ground I've chosen Smashwords for the e-book format, and Lulu for print.
The big plus in both cases is that these are major and reputable publishing companies, and they make money from sales rather than upfront fees - that is a vital consideration. A secondary factor is that in both cases I can use my own ISBN. I decided that I want my stories to be associated with my own publishing "brand". In author circles, I've heard good things about both companies and no horror stories. Lulu even gets a "Recommended" on Preditors & Editors.
In both cases, I'm looking for simplicity and reach.
The main thing about Smashwords is that they automatically format for multiple e-book distributors, and the list is growing. This was the major attraction for me.
I've chosen to include Lulu purely for the print on demand capability and the fact that they distribute through Amazon. I've heard that their print costs are on the high side, i.e. I could get stuff printed for less, but I want the distribution to be handled for me.
Now I'm contacting local book designers to take the next step on the road...