Once upon a time…
…there was a group of young and promising writers. They had great ideas, finished manuscripts, and starry eyes filled with hope of Bestseller’s Lists. The only question was, what should they do next?
Does this story sound familiar? The last time we were with our intrepid writers, the group had come to a fork in the road, and we followed the friends who took the path toward traditional publishing. Now, as promised, we return to our friends who decided to explore the indie (also known as self-publishing) route. Let’s follow them down to the docks.
The Ocean of Indie Publishing: Where to?
Now that you’re thinking about sailing off into the sunset of indie publishing, there are some things you need to know before you untie your boat. (Sorry, I’ve got a lot of nautical puns. Prepare yourself!)
Fortunately, you’re not alone in this vast sea. When preparing for launch, it’s always a good idea to talk to those who have gone before you, and lucky for you, some friends of the Spinning Pen have just the wisdom you’re looking for.
I’ve invited Kim Vandel, the indie author of the Under Fire series, and Jill Williamson, the author of over a dozen both traditionally and indie published novels, to share their best tips for authors who are ready to test the waters of Indie publishing.
Ladies, take it away!
1. Make your writing the best it can be.
There’s a lot of competition in the publishing world, so you need to stand out. Word of mouth—readers recommending a book to other readers—is what will sell your book, so learn how to craft a story that will captivate them. It’s hard work, but worth it! Find a good critique group and get feedback on your writing. Read books on the writing craft. Take workshops, online courses, or webinars. Read in your genre. I can’t recommend that one enough. Reading is how you learn what works and what doesn’t.
2. Learn from the pros.
There are some big rock stars in the indie publishing world, and the good news is that most of them are willing to share their knowledge. Susan Kaye Quinn‘s website is a great place to start. Susan has written two books on indie publishing, she blogs, and has a Facebook group for indie authors (For Love or Money). SKQ is constantly trying new things and sharing her experience, both her successes and failures. You can save yourself a lot of time and frustration by learning from those who have gone before you. It’s one of the best ways to prepare yourself for an indie publishing career.
3. Make sure you’re ready.
There are a lot of people self-publishing who aren’t ready. When I read the first page on Amazon and see writing filled with typos and poor prose, I wince. Don’t be that author! Patience is a virtue, and if you are patient with your writing and wait until you have developed your skill, you’ll go a long way in helping yourself succeed and make a great first impression too.
4. Be prepared to invest in quality people to help you.
I see far too many books on Amazon with terrible covers. Blurry or out-of-focus models on the cover. Bad lighting. Tiny, illegible font. Poor color choices. Bad proportions. Too busy. Stock photos that have been used on a dozen other novels. And the back cover is important too. The words written on the back cover or on the Amazon product page are there to sell your book. If they’re poorly written, that’s a sign the book will be too—even if it’s not true. (Many novelists are poor at writing copy.)
The same is true inside the book. You might be a great writer, but you’ll still make errors. There will be typesetting errors too. You need to respect your dream enough to invest in professional people to help you make your book the best it can be, on the inside and outside. Pay for a cover artist. Pay for an editor. Pay for a typesetter. Take your time to diligently seek out individuals who are both talented and qualified. Get references from other authors and research these people before you hire them. If you have to, save up until you raise enough money to do the job right. It will be worth it.
From the shore, the ocean of indie publishing seems vast and perhaps even unconquerable, but take heart! With the right tools, a strong work ethic, and a sense of adventure, it’s a navigable trek.
What are your questions about indie publishing? Do you have any tips or resources you love? Share with us in the comments!
Dana, signing off.