Drawing maps can be difficult, but a good software package can help. After trying several different types of free online graphic software, I found Paint.net, and used it to produce the maps for my book. It’s easy to use and powerful, but it also doesn’t have all the features of a large and expensive digital editor. Paint.net is an image and photo editing software package for PCs running Windows.
If you are just starting out drawing maps or other types of graphics for a project, I think Paint.net has the right level of complexity and features. The key points for me are free and easy to use. It can be found online and after a quick download you can start using it right away. I feel that learning mapmaking on simple to use and free graphic software is best. If needed, you can then move on to more powerful and expensive software packages.
A Sample Map From My Book Created Using Paint.net
(note: unfortunately all the maps in the book are B&W)
Another Sample Map From My Book
After reviewing several different self-publishing sites online, I finally settled upon using CreateSpace to publish my book. CreateSpace has now move over to Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP. This slightly different software, from Amazon.com, is easy to use, but not as easy as they claim. Everything takes time to learn, and then more time to make changes to your document, and then more time to review and edit what you created. Once you get the feel for the site, it becomes easier and faster to use, but it remains a learning process. The key features for me are:
- Easy to use with good help features, examples, and a step by step checklist guide.
- Free to use, you split any sales with CreateSpace/KDP so there is no upfront cost to you.
- They guide you through the marketing process and take care of printing, shipping and collecting money via Amazon.com. Your share shows up in your bank account.
- Extra features like a Royalty Calculator which helps you choose the right price for your book, the size, the style and if you should use B&W vs Color in the body of the book. It allows you to see the overall cost to print and the royalties you will receive.
- Finally, the cost to have a Proof Copy of your book printed and sent to you for review is reasonable. This allows you to quickly see and feel your book, and find any errors. This service also makes the entire process very real and exciting!
Overall, I recommend CreateSpace with KDP now handling the self-Publishing part of Amazon.com.