I've decided to publish The Orthogonal Galaxy on CreateSpace, which is Amazon.com's self-publishing subsidiary. CreateSpace has reasonable publishing rates, and a nice wizard that walks you through the complete publishing process. Here are the steps I took to get my first novel published:
1) Write the Book... the most obvious step.
2) Edit the Book. My wife, Suzanne, and I read through it multiple times, and continued to find issues every time. Wanting to keep the costs low, we decided to do this ourselves instead of hiring a professional editor. Hopefully, we caught all of the major typos, grammatical errors, phrasing confusion, and plot inconsistencies to prevent distractions in the final work, but as Suzanne points out, she finds errors even from mainstream publishers who use professional staff editors to ensure a high quality product.
3) Select a Self-Publisher. After much research, I decided on CreateSpace (CS) for its simplicity, low costs, and ease of use. CS doesn't print hard-cover books, so if you're fine with paperback production, CS works great! It also uses Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) if you want your work in eBook media as well.
4) Create a Cover. This was something I just was NOT going to do myself. While it's true that you can't judge a book by its cover, let's face it. If someone browsing on Amazon.com comes across a book with an obviously low-quality cover, they're going to wonder whether the same quality exists on the pages of the book as well. However, I wasn't willing to spend hundreds of dollars for a freelance graphic artist to do the job either. After researching the subject online, I found fiverr, which is an online provider of services costing as little as $5.00. While there are a plethora of graphic artists to choose from on the website, I chose to employ the services of PixelStudio, and splurged for a couple of add-ons that lightened my wallet by $15.75. A very reasonable price for the following professionally-produced book cover:
The package included a full front/back/spline design as well that looked great as well.
5) Format the Text. I found a Microsoft Word template in 6"x9" format that CS can publish to (CS can also do 5x8, but I chose a slightly larger format for a more substantial look and feel.) Here are the things I fussed over to get the interior looking clean and professional, with help from a lot of different blogs and sites that treat the subject of "MS Word Book Formatting":
a) Added front matter. (Title Page, Copyright Page, and Dedication)
b) Broke chapters into sections.
c) Centered chapter headings and page numbers.
d) Fully justified text.
e) Margins (including gutter space for binding).
It took me several times to iterate on the review process on CreateSpace, because every time I would submit a new Word document, I would spot some new problem in the interactive proof review tool.
6) Use the CreateSpace Wizard. CS walks you through the entire process, step by step, and doesn't allow you to jump ahead in the process. That's a good thing, because it ensures that you have all of the details you need early on, before getting too late in the flow only to realize you missed something important earlier.
Presently, I'm in the final stages of the review process, and hope to have The Orthogonal Galaxy published in the next couple of days.