Guest Post: “A Self-Publishing Blueprint” by Bud Smith

Hi gang,

For our next installment of the Guest Blog Post, I turn to my good friend and all-around fantastic author Bud Smith. Bud’s a veteran of the self-publishing wars, and in his guest post, “A Self-Publishing Blueprint,” he imparts the knowledge and wisdom he’s gained while publishing his own collections of short fiction and poetry. With a healthy dash of humor, to boot. His guest post will surely answer any questions you might have about self-publishing, and ease your mind as well.

A little about Mr. Smith:

Bud Smith is the author of the novel, Tollbooth (Piscataway House), the short story collection, Or Something Like That (Unknown Press), and the poetry collection Everything Neon (Marginala). He edits at JMWW and Uno Kudo, and lives in New York City. 

And now, without further ado…




A Self Publishing Blueprint

by Bud Smith



Oh Jesus, this again. The debate, ‘Should I self publish my book, or should I sell it to One of the Big Five?’
Who knows what you should do. Should you be getting an agent? Should you be looking for a movie deal? Should you be finishing your book? Should you start writing your book? Should you get off the floor, you’ve been laying there curled up in a ball for three weeks, just eating crumbs that roll over.

Regardless of all that, I think it comes down to, Have I put in the time to learn how to do what I want to do great.
Okay! I saw this coming … YOU’RE GREAT! Knew you’d say that.
So then, you probably wanna talk about self publishing. There’s no time to waste, you say, I gotta self publish this book ASAP. Alright, keep reading. But also, if you are against self publishing, keep reading. I’ll talk in this article about how to use POD to print your drafts out in paperback form, for you to edit and finalize, before submitting to small presses, agents, even God. She likes a good book too.

Self Pub 101
1. There’s still a stigma against self-published books. I call it, the grime of self-publishing. But, they can be great books. And they can be just as great as books released from major publishing houses.


* Whenever I say just as good, I mean, they can actually be far better, because they can say whatever the hell whacked out thing they want.
* When I read a book, I’m reading it for the art of the writing. It doesn’t bother me if you put your book out yourself or if the biggest publishing house in the world put your book out.

* I think of small press books in the same light that I think of indie films. Some of my favorite movies are made by solitary directors who wrote, produced, and acted in their own films. There’s a handful of books on my self that are from authors who’ve pulled off that same level of commitment to their books. It can be done. It will be done again.

2. Not all self-published books are created equal.
* The problem most readers have with dedicating their time to reading a self published book, is the fact that the creators of the book, sometimes seem to give zero fucks about spell checking their work, editing their work for typos, working on the appearance of the text, considering font, sizing of page, spacing of lines and characters … in short, the readers are mad because they are looking at a sloppy/ugly book that is not pleasing on the eye or brain, regardless of the content or quality of the writing, and the purpose that writing achieves on an entertainment and educational level.

*Successful self-published books, are that way because of the level of care put into ‘building the thing from the ground up.’

*And it’s all bout the person who’s putting together the project, hence the self in the self publishing. If the self wants to take their time and do something beautiful, the self can do that. If the self wants to put it out raw, the self can do that too.
Whichever. I’m a fan of both ways.

I’m probably not the best person to ask if self publishing is cool. I’m biased, and by biased, I mean, “I don’t give a fuck what is considered cool.”

I just care about making stuff. Sometimes making stuff involves me working with a press on a book that they will publish for me, like I got to did with my novel Tollbooth (Piscataway House), and did with a collection of my poetry called Everything Neon (Marginalia Press); or other times, it’s all ‘me’, and by that I mean Unknown Press, and I’m doing all the layout of the book myself, from cover to cover  and the inside guts between. That self publishing stuff happened with my short story collection Or Something Like That, the literary anthologies, First Time, and the forthcoming anthology Too Much.
I like books, and I like making them, any way that I can.
I get all starry-eyed with the process. But, had a big trial and error period with making my own books, ie. self publishing my own books. I scoured the internet looking for people who would ‘tell me how to do it.’ And believe me, they would—there’s no shortage of long-winded advice that leads nowhere.
Just look at this fucking article. Long-winded, check. Semi-helpful, check.
But my purpose here … is to just say what I do. To give you the details. To get you set-up, so that your book looks the best it can, whatever that means for you.

Self-publishing for release.
Or using the self publishing model to generate your own ‘draft books cheaply.’


The Process Step By Step

1. Your book should be done, finished, finito.


*  By finito, I mean: you’re ready to stop writing for a little while, get it printed up as a ‘proof’, order yourself a copy, and read it. Run spell check on your draft at least.


2.  Layout


*  I make 6 X 9 books generally. 5 X 8 books will follow the same general layout and formatting tips though.

*  margins are 1 inch. All margins, Top, Bottom, Left, and Right.

*  Header and Footers, I Set at .5 inches, but generally put nothing in them but page numbers. I like a simplistic, clean book.

*  all indents are set to 0 in.

*  tabs= .25 inches. The tabs are set this way, so they create a pleasing paragraph start. A moderate bump in, at  the start. Most bad looking self published books have 2 dead giveaway layout messups. The first, is over exaggerated paragraph starts, ie. .5 inches-1 inch on a 6 X 9 book … The other mess-up I commonly see, if that the self pub author decides to put a an extra space (line break) after the conclusion of each paragraph. This always looks unnatural.

3. Formatting
*  text is 11 pt. Georgia, Garamond, or Minion.

*  Line spacing is 1.1, or 1.2 (white space is your friend in book design.)

*  Alignment = Justified. Clean edges. Text like a box. Open up a pro-book by a big pub house … oh shit look at that, they are all aligned as ‘Justified’

*  Character spacing I usually leave alone, but you can add a little white space between the individual characters if you prefer. 1%-2% max is recommended for this, in the body of text for a standard novel, short story collection, book of essays.


*  First of all, when you open a book, the inside of the cover, does not count as a page. Page one, is on your right hand side when you immediately open a book. This might seem counter-intuitive to some. But, all books start on page 1. Well laid-out books will not be numbered (in header or footer) until after the title page, publisher page, any other pertinent page, before the actual text of ‘page 1’ of your novel starts

In example: there should be no ‘page numbers’ in the headers or footers of these pages, in this: section one.

*  page 1: title page

*  page 2: publisher’s page/copyright page

*  page 3: table of contents (A/)

*  alt. page 3: “for”

*  alt. alt. page 3 “quote”

*  page 4: blank, (add section break)


Section Two: begin automatic page numbering in header or footer.
*  page 5: text of book begins here.

*  page 5-whatever (body of book)

*  last page of body text (add section break)

Section Three: no page numbers here.

*  at end of book, on an even page, add acknowledgements

*  blank page

*  finish with bio page

I always like to ‘start’ a new chapter, on a new clean page. I add page breaks to the end of paragraphs that will be the finale to a chapter. This keeps things clean, and organized. You could just hit return a bunch of times, but if you add a page break, your formatting will improve dramatically, and as you edit, add/remove text in later drafts, the start and stops of paragraphs will be cemented.


You have a pleasing looking document now. I go into the Menu>File>Print, and in the print window, I convert the .doc into a PDF. A PDF is beloved by printers. What you see on the page is what you see in the book.

I use Createspace for my printer. There’s benefits to using them, especially in the price, quality, ease of upload … and my favorite thing, the ability to keep ordering cheap proof copies of your title as you see fit, before approving it (if ever) for release online and in the Amazon store.


Other benefits of PDF

*Pdfs can be uploaded to And you will get a preview of how the interior of your book will look in printed form (on screen). You will be able to flip through your book by cursor, to take a look at your layout, choice of font, sizing, spacing and page numbering …

*Upload the PDF to your printer, ie. Createspace.

*Be sure to select 6X9 book if your file is a 6X9 PDF, or however you set your pages up.


Book Cover

Of course book covers are important. If you don’t have much experience with making your own covers, it’s a good idea to get help. A bad book cover steers people away. Generally, if I see a book with a bad cover and know it’s self published, I make the assumption that it is not edited, even proofread, laid out nicely, or in general, worth my time. Remember this is all happening digitally online, mostly. People are going by a thumbnail.

So … that said, if you are going to make your own cover, and have a working knowledge of photoshop, at least, you can, and should give it a shot on your own. (Q: Do you suck now? How will you get better? A: BY DOING IT.)


*Sometimes simpler is better.

*Graphic, timeless covers do better.
*Make sure the title is clear.
*Make sure your name is clear.
*Avoid: busy
*Avoid: cheesy
*Avoid: blurry, crooked and smudged


Some of my favorite covers are from Charles Bukowski. All his press did was put the title of the book and the author’s name, with minimal fluff. See also: Ask the Dusk and Catcher in The Rye (red cover yellow letters)

Don’t like how it comes out? Fucking hire someone to fix it, maing.


Order it.


When it’s all loaded up on your printer’s site, and you finally get that email that says they are ready for you to order your proof copies, or they are ready for you to CLICK APPROVE PROOF COPIES, slap yourself in the face if you thought for a second to just approve the proof copies.


*  Order a physical copy

*  Read it.

*  Revise it.

*  Mark it up.

*  No matter what you do on your own, you will not find all the typos.

*  Again: No matter what you do on your own, you will not find all the typos.

*  Fix the original doc.

*  Make a new PDF.

*  repeat until you are happy with the result.

*  I recommend getting people to read your book, extensively proofreading it. I recommend paying them what you can. I recommend that till the cows come home. A new author will not listen. That’s fine. You will one day break. You will one day learn. Or, you can just take my fucking advice now. HAVE SOMEONE ELSE, who is not your friend or lover, proofread your book. Better yet, get two people.

*  Fix it again.

*  Make a PDF.

*  Re-upload it.

*  Look at the physical proofs.

*  Like it?




Congratulations, you just made a book. I like art and I love books, so I’m happy. Another book for me to read!

Those are some of the tips I can offer. There’s a lot more, and things always change, but  that’s what I’ve got right now. I hope it helps you make a book.

Chances are, it’ll take you a few tries before you are happy with the results. Don’t give up. And keep getting better at writing, designing, editing and making in general, by practicing it.

Even the pros have to learn this stuff. Don’t let anybody tell you that they just skip it. While they make not be physically making and releasing their own titles, their publishing houses are not carrying them as far as legend would have you believe.

Writing and book making is hard work. But hugely satisfying work.
Enjoy it, party animals.

All Aboard the Blog Train!

Not one, not two, but three writers have asked me to hop on the blog train. I was invited by Rebecca Douglass, the wonderful talent behind The Ninja Librarian, Kat Glover, who blogs over at Your Mama’s All Write, and Victoria Sawyer, who runs the terrific Angst blog, to take part in a blog train. The way the blog train works is pretty simple: the blogger that “rode the train” the week before writes a post answering three questions, and at the end of the blog, features three of their favorite bloggers. The featured bloggers keep the train a-rollin’ by doing the same a week later.

All three blogs are favorites of mine, and I enjoy reading their work and their takes on the everyday things that make you smile and gnash your teeth. If you’re not familiar with any of these blogs, it’s high time you got yourself familiar with them right now.

It’s my pleasure to take a ride on the blog train. ALL ABOARD!

Here now…The Questions!

1. What are you working on now?

Several things, actually. This blog, for example; I’m taking part in the Daily Post’s Writing 101 monthly writing prompt blog, posting a blog a day based upon their writing prompts. This has been a fun writing exercise for me in that it helps me flex my writing muscles and keep them moving. Nothing like muscle memorization to help you along, don’t you think? I also have several other blog posts I’m writing for the month – my weekly Friday List blog, an upcoming primer on the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and definitely the random blog on what’s on my mind at the moment.

The work-in-progress that’s currently keeping me occupied is a full-length “upmarket fiction” (i.e. – a hybrid literary/commercial fiction work) novel about a suicidal woman who embarks on a road trip across 1990’s America with a fictional character. It’s pleasantly insane, which is why it’s kept my interest: there are always more layers of crazy to unpeel, and I’m having fun doing that.

I also have several pieces of short fiction that I’m polishing up and submitting either for competition or just to answer an open call for submissions.

Finally, I’m collaborating with fellow writers on judging entries for an anthology, and I’ve volunteered to copy edit another anthology.


2. How does your work differ from others of the genre?

My work differs not so much from others of the genre, but from other writers I’ve met so far. I don’t like the “genre” label because it implies limitations, so I much prefer to work without any preconceived confines. I do like the idea of “upmarket fiction,” which takes the best of both the literary and commercial fiction worlds, neither of which I have a preference for, but both whom feature very strong writing.


3. Why do I write what I do?

Because, honestly, no one else is writing this. I write what I want to read, simple as that.


4. How does your writing process work?

I wish I had an actual process, you know, where I wake up in the morning, fix myself a pot of coffee, sharpen about 10 pencils, and get to writing. But I have a demanding job that takes up more than 40 hours per week, and I’m a husband and a parent. So when I write, I often have to use pockets of time throughout the day and simply make the best of it. When work wasn’t as demanding, I had more time in the day to write.

The thing is, I’m constantly plotting, jotting notes down, keeping the fires going. So that’s a process, right?


Now, for the other three that are coming along for the ride…

1. Tracy Cembor and I share something in common: she too finds the time to write, whether it’s a few scribbles or a thousand words, while balancing the demands of a full-time job AND being a parent. She shares her insights, her triumphs and her setbacks, all with a great attitude, over at her blog site. She’s well-worth the discovery, people!

2. M.L. Swift is a riot. His “About” page is exactly the way an About Page should be written. He’s funny and incisive and extremely generous. I’ve been a big fan of his blog and have enjoyed bantering with him on all kinds of topics over the past couple of years.

3. Bud Smith…well, shit, if you don’t know him or his writing, it’s your loss, pal. Seriously. Your. Loss.



Call For Submissions – “Too Much: An Anthology About Excess”

We’ve all got stories of overindulgence. Yeah, everyone. Don’t kid yourself. Everyone’s got a story of a time, or a lifetime, when if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.

That time you ate your weight in barbecue pork.

Too much time on Facebook or Twitter. Like days on Facebook or Twitter.

That morning you decided to run a few miles more, and your feet were blistered, and your nipples bled. (Okay, sorry for the visual)

That weekend in Vegas, full of hookers and blow and duct tape and..

Actually, fuck your Vegas story. Everyone’s got a Vegas story. Got a different story of excess, involving a weekend full of hookers and blow and duct tape…at the Vatican?

Interested in telling your tale of excess? Then read on. My compadre Bud Smith and Unknown Press want to read your stories.

Call For Submissions: Too Much: An Anthology About Excess

Unknown Press is putting together a new anthology, print and ebook.
Send creative non-fiction, fiction, poetry, flash, interviews to:

We’re looking for writing that finds its own way, in under 5000 words. Creative non-fiction is preferred, ie. true stories that happened to you. But, we’re open to other forms. Try us.

Send as many submissions as you’d like, just keep it under 5000 words. For example, an essay at 2500 and a short story at 2000 words is perfectly fine. Wanna send 4 pieces of flash at 500 words a piece? Feel free. Please attach the sub. to the email as a word doc.

The topic ‘Too Much’: humorous, strange, bizarre, touching, poignant. We’re looking for stories, essays, poems that touch on the most extreme experience you’ve had with drugs, alcohol, sex, any and all addictions to things considered good or known to be bad, whether that’s the internet, video games, a job, a relationship, a personal goal, even writing itself. Bring the weird. Bring the surprising and enlightening. Bring the falling over and seeing stars.

Submissions are open from 1/5/14 until 3/1/14, pub. date is estimated around July 4th, 2014.

Payment will include one contributor copy of the paperback book, mailed to you. One free ebook version of the anthology. A discount code will be given to all contributors so they can purchase copies for themselves ‘at cost’.

Thank you for your time and energy. Muchas gracias.

A Random Blog About Interviews, Blog Milestones, Kindle Updates, and Other Miscellany

20130130-121309A week ago, I did an interview on my compadre Bud Smith’s show, the Unknown Show. On the show, we discuss Out Where the Buses Dont’t Run and the roots behind the book. I also mildy insult Stephen King, the pros and cons of moonlighting behind the counter of a Burger King drive-thru, and I shamelessly compare myself to Philip Roth. Yeah, Philip Roth.

No wonder Philip Roth has retired.

At any rate, we chatted for about 15-20 minutes, and as always, I had fun shooting the shit with Bud. The interview is posted on Bud’s BlogTalkRadio site, the Unknown Show. Jump to the 23rd minute to begin my interview, although it’s worth listening to the first 23 minutes of Bud’s interview with author/blogger Jesse Bradley; Bud and Jesse wax philosophically about Highlander, whisky, and Florida rednecks. Well worth listening to this interview. In fact, the entire show is worth listening to.

I’d also be a lousy friend if I didn’t make mention of some good news: congrats to Bud and his new bride Rae on their recent wedding! All the best to you and your lovely new wife, my friend.


As of this afternoon, my blog is now being followed by more than 500 readers. That’s a nice round number that pleases me, actually.

500 readers means I’m part of an exclusive club – how exclusive, I don’t know – but I’m pleased to be part of this club. 500 means something, just like the 500 Home Run Club. Although the 500 Home Run Club just doesn’t seem to have quite the same cachet as it once had, what with all the known and accused steroid users on that list. Maybe 500 readers isn’t such a big deal these days after all. Whatever. I earned those readers. I DID NOT USE STEROIDS, OR A GHOST WRITER, PERIOD.

*Fast forward two weeks later, when the news breaks that this entire blog, not to mention my book, was ghost-written by a teenage girl in the Philippines. OOPS!*

Anyway, thank you to everyone who’s subscribed to my blog. I truly do hope it’s been worth it.


cover copyA month ago today, Out Where the Buses Don’t Run was published on CreateSpace. In that time, my little collection of blogs has been made available on Amazon in paperback, and on Kindle and Smashwords.

It’s sold a modest (read: handful) amount of copies, but I’ve gotten a lot of interest on Goodreads. More than 250 readers have marked it as “to-read,” and in the Giveaway I hosted, 576 entries were submitted, and five lucky winners were chosen.

Considering it cost me next to nothing to publish my book, I’m not complaining about my sales. Far from it. My goals were to experience the craft of promotion, of getting my book and my name out there, and attracting attention and interest in my work and my blog. I’ve gotten some interest. I’ve been asked to do some interviews. But I can do more.

In the coming weeks, I’m planning on ramping up the marketing for my book. Some more discounted sales, a few Kindle giveaways, some more interviews, and reaching out to other online resources to get my book and name out there. I don’t believe there’s a short shelf life for my book.

Also, I’ve gotten my first review for Out Where the Buses Don’t Run, and it’s a doozy. A very positive review, and very funny. Yay! That review’s made me happier than this girl right here:



(I just wanted an excuse to post the “Gersberms” pic; if you don’t know what this means, the ridiculously detailed explaination to the “Ermahgerd” meme should explain everything.)

Re-Post: Uno Kudo Interview – Gus Sanchez

I recently sat for an interview with my compadre Bud Smith, as part of his ongoing series of interviews with contributing writers to the Uno Kudo anthologies. Actually, “sat down” doesn’t really describe the interview; we exchanged e-mails and texts over the course of a month, and what follows is our online conversation.

We tackled a slew of important topics, ranging from where the name of my blog originated from, my work-in-progress, my hard-on for music, the worst job I’ve ever had, my contributions to Uno Kudo, and other randomness.

Upon reading the interview, you can tell Bud’s an engaging interviewer who knows how to ask the right questions and get the right answers out of his subjects. This was a fun interview to take part in, and it’s my pleasure to share this with you.

Now, without further ado…

Uno Kudo Interview: Gus Sanchez

Naked (Uno Kudo Vol. 2)

I’m pleased to announce that my short story “Room 505” is featured in Naked, the second Uno Kudo anthology. Uno Kudo Vol. 2 is currently available on Amazon at the special introductory rate of $19.99. Not only was I a contribution to this second anthology, I was proud to serve as an editor.

What is Uno Kudo, you ask? I’d write something clever, but I’ll let the fine folks at Uno Kudo speak for themselves:

There wasn’t a doubt: there would be an Uno Kudo Vol. 2. The first book was a best seller on the anthology list and raised a nice amount of money for a worthy charity. But following the first book, a strange thing happened. The writers and artists who were included began to talk. They picked up telephones and said, “Oh hi, hello—so strange that we’ve never hung out before.” They bounced emails back and forth—“Wanna help me drink this vat of Pinot Noir?” Parties sprung up. Snail mail popped into mailboxes: birthday cards, odd little handwritten notes. These people had all fallen in love with each other. They started talking. Collaborating. Plotting. Devising. They took vacations together. It was baffling. This kinda’ thing wasn’t supposed to happen anymore.

An art collective. A modern day art collective. Really?

Yup. It spans the U.S.A. and it’s spreading … inching out daily. Like the Blob … Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, Boulder, Brooklyn, Upstate New York, Chicago … that Johnny Cash song, I’ve been everywhere man … Sure! Sea to shining sea. Europe too. Pins on the map in Japan, South America, anywhere there’s a somebody leaving a light on. We’d like to come to your town—absorb you just like the Blob did. We’re friendly though. We’ll slather you in neon DayGlo paint and … well, lots of things will happen.

There’s a place for you here in Uno Kudo. Read. Look. Write. Create. Speak. Buy me a drink. I’ll buy you a drink. We’ll get naked and things will glow with an impossible hum—reverberating with a tinge of welcome danger.


The Editors

Born out of both an admiration for our respective talents and a love for one another, Uno Kudo is literally a labor of love, and something we want to share with the rest of the world. I am lucky to have gotten to know just about everyone who’s collaborated on both volumes, and even more fortunate to call these people my friends. I love them and miss them greatly.

 Okay, enough of my gushing…an added bonus to this anthology is that we’re pleased to announce that 100% (yes, 100%!) of all proceeds will be donated to PEN International! For 90 years PEN has been a global literary community protecting free expression and celebrating literature. Providing grants, awards and support for persecuted writers around the world, Uno Kudo believes that not only is PEN the perfect charity to receive Volume 2’s proceeds, but we also could not have a better role model as the Uno Kudo community of writers and artists look to the future.

Our first anthology, Ripped, was released last fall. Thanks to the incredible outpouring of support from friends and family, the first volume went as high as #6 on Amazon’s Best Selling American Literature Collection. You can still order your copy of Ripped from Amazon.

At this time, Uno Kudo Vol. 2 is only available in paperback format. There are plans to release it in digital format next spring, so stay tuned for further updates

For another glimpse into the creative process behind the contributing minds featured in Uno Kudo, Vol. 2, check out Bud Smith’s excellent interview of the very talented and even lovelier Erin Parker.

So if you’re looking for something a little more provocative for your next reading material, then please consider Naked. You’ll be feeding your mind, you’ll be supporting freedom of expression, you’ll be exposed to some up-and-coming mega-talents, and you’ll get the chance to read one of my stories. It’s a win-win for everyone, you as well.

If you can’t purchase a copy, or you’re on the fence – and why would you be on the fence? – then please consider following Uno Kudo on Facebook and subscribe to Uno Kudo’s Blogspot page for further updates.

I’ll leave you with this brief yet tantalizing trailer for Naked. And please consider Vol. 2  as a nice Christmas gift for yourself or a stocking stuffer for others. While you’re at it, buy Ripped as well.

Thanks for reading!