Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Big Five

5 Things You Should Know Before You Indie Publish
By Laura Browning
  1. Writing might be a solitary endeavor, but publishing is not
I’ve been writing for a long time. I spent more than two decades writing in television news. I’ve been seriously writing fiction for about six years now. I’ve been very fortunate to have books picked up by The Wild Rose Press and Lyrical Press. I can tell you right now, the hardest thing I’ve ever done was publish one of my books on my own. 
In addition to the writing, there’s editing, formatting, designing a cover, figuring out how to market it and finding reviewers who are both willing to review an indie published book, and not so inundated with manuscripts that they’re willing to take a timely look at yours.
If you’re like many writers who also hold down full-time jobs, think carefully before you decide to don too many hats at once.
  1. You need a good editor
This one bears repeating. You need a good editor. I’m an English teacher, but I can tell you, I still need other sets of eyes on my work…and friends and family don’t count. This is a place where my advice would be to pay someone to edit your book, and make sure you pay someone who knows how to edit. A good editor is priceless. I firmly believe it takes as much (or more!) talent to edit someone else’s work than to write your own books. If you’re determined to Indie publish, then find an editor. Not only will they see the mistakes you’ve missed, but they—unlike your mom, friend, or spouse—won’t hesitate to point out where you sound like an idiot or have left a glaring hole in your plot.
  1. If you write it, they will come – maybe.
Plenty of folks out there made Indie publishing sound like some Field of Dreams fantasy, and it might have been if you were either one of the first to come out with the 99 cent book, or an already established author hawking your backlist to which you just regained rights. However, there are oodles and oodles of independently published books out there, and among them are lots of, shall we say, less than polished prose. Okay, I’ve seen some real crap. Whew. I feel better for having said that.
So, your future addition to the body of American Literature stands an excellent chance of being smothered among the…doo doo. This is where number four comes in…
  1. Know your Market
Decide if you’re going to be able to promote your books in places that will get it noticed. Some genres are overloaded. I’d tell you that right now, vampire stories fall into that area. You’ll need a really unique twist to your story to get it at the top of the heap, and some ins to get you reviews.
Word of mouth is a great marketing tool, but you’re going to have to get them talking first. Being able to hit the market in fairly frequent intervals with something like a series is a help, but not a guarantee of increased sales.
  1. Know Your Limits
The real bottom line before you make the leap into Indie publishing  is to be realistic about what you can and can’t do. Once you figure out exactly how much of your independence you’ll have to hire out, you may find submitting to publishers is still the better option.
Sure, the promise of being able to keep more of the profits is a tantalizing lure to be sure, especially when you see you made 12 cents off that paperback that retailed for 12.99. The costs of indie publishing are in more than money, it can be a huge drain on your time. Let’s face it, for most writers, our primary job is to write. If we don’t have the time to do that, then we’re missing the point. 

About me:
I am the author of two novels so far in my Sea Lovers series from The Wild Rose Press: The Silkie’s Call and The Silkie’s Salvation. In addition, I have a novella coming out in December from TWRP entitled, Santa’s Helper. 
Lyrical Press released my first full-length contemporary romance, Winning Heart, in July. Another contemporary, Bittersweet, will be out in December.
And yes, I have indie-published one novel so far, The Guardian Michel, part of a series I will continue to work on if I survive the birth pains. Lol.
If you’d like to learn more, you can check out my website:


wlynnchantale said...

Hi Laura. Thanks so much for being here today. With the start of school, edits, and new puppies I know you you gotta be busy. So take a moment. Relax. Help yourself to the open bar or the coffee bar, then dive into the buffet. Hmm, I don't see the crab cakes, oh wait here they come.

Question for you. When you Indie publish, is there a company you prefer or are they all the same?

Laura Browning said...

Even though Smashwords will publish to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, I went ahead and formatted for all three. I personally think Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes and Noble's PubIt were infinitely more user friendly than Smashwords.
If you're determined to have a hard copy of your book, Amazon has a print on demand service, Create Space, that can get your book in print.

wlynnchantale said...

Are these services expensive?

Joanna Aislinn said...

All very good points to keep next to that keyboard (on a sticky note w/Velcro backing of course).

Thanks for sharing this and I'm wondering about the POD services too.

Calisa Rhose said...

I don't know that I'll ever Indie pub, but it's good to know what goes into it just in case. Thanks Laura.

Jenna said...

Excellent points. Even if they're all marked #1. ;-)

Laura Browning said...

lol...They weren't when I emailed it. I've found though that something often gets lost in the cyber translations to blogger, like the italics I had my book titles in...sigh.
In terms of costs of services, Smashwords, KDP and PubIt, don't have to cost you a dime. Be careful, though, because most offer editorial and formatting services as well, and those do cost money. If you need services, before you give in to the web's instant gratification, check around locally. You may find folks you know or who are in your local RWA chapter who have expertise in editing, designing covers, etc.
As to POD, I have used CreateSpace which, in the past, required that you purchase one copy of your book. If you don't utilitze their editorial services, those are the only fees involved.

artrix said...

How do you feel about publishing as an Audio Book And/Or putting chapters on YouTube for promo?

Thanks for this - looking for an Editor now. Leads?



Laura Browning said...

I'm going to pull out some economic terms here, but if you're indie-publishing, it all comes down to opportunity costs. How does what you'll have to spend stack up against potential revenue? In other words, exactly how many books will you have to sell to cover the costs of producing and marketing your product? I don't know much about the production of audio books, but I do know that the worst one I ever listened to was read by the author. (William Golding/Lord of the Flies.)
There are plenty of authors using venues like You Tube for book trailers, and checking the number of views those get might be a good way to gauge if that's a viable marketing tool.
As voracious an appetite as the average romance reader has, I firmly believe getting your number one product--your books--out there is the single most important task for a writer. If someone reads what you've written and likes it, be like Lay's potato chips--have more than one ready for them to consume.