Indie Publishing: Yeah or Nay?
By: Theresa Oliver
After playing the waiting game with publishers, a friend of mine is now considering publishing indie and asked my opinion whether I thought she should or not. As the owner of Write More Publications, I wanted to give her the pros and cons of indie publishing and to anyone considering publishing the indie route.
Indie publishing can be very rewarding, but there are some areas of which one must be aware before considering indie publishing. The rewards is that you have total and complete control of your masterpiece, from the cover right down to editing and layout. Also, there is no wait. Oftentimes, authors play the waiting game with publishers and must be thick skinned upon receiving many rejections, but with indie publishing, the wait is over.
However, before you beat the indie drum and rush out to indie publish, there are some areas that one should consider with caution:
1. Hire an editor: First, make sure you have a good editor. This is crucial. Find an editor that will check for possible plot problems as well as flow, grammar and spelling. Readers will be put off immediately with poorly edited manuscripts. As an author, I can tell you from experience that no matter how good you are, you need an editor. Even the greats such as Steven King and Jude Devereaux have good editors. As an editor myself, I can edit the work of others until the cows come home, but every author needs an extra set of eyes on your own work, as you are too close to it. Also, as I said before, a good editor can foresee plot problems within your story that you may not even know exists. There is nothing like poor editing that will kill even the best book. Readers will overlook one or two mistakes, but when it is blatant, they quickly close the book.
2. Create a Professional Cover: If you have been to school to learn layout using InDesign, great! Create your own cover! Have you worked as a layout editor? Fabulous! Create your own cover! However, if you haven't, then hire a professional to create the cover for you. The second thing that will kill a book is a poorly created cover. The cover of a book can either catch the reader's attention, attracting him or her to the contents within, or can cause them not to consider opening it. As a reader, if I see a book with a poorly created cover, I immediately think that the rest of the book is of poor quality and will not consider reading it. Once, an author wanted to use a certain picture for the cover of her book, but it was all wrong for the book. The person creating the cover tried to tell the author that the pic was horrid; however, the author wouldn't listen. Instead, she indie published the book with the horrible cover. Recently, I saw her book and it now has a new cover. Obviously, she learned her lesson the hard way. As I said, a professionally designed cover can make the difference in the sales of a book or can break it.
3. Create Professional Book Interiors: In addition to creating eye-catching covers, make sure that the layout of your book's interior is of top quality. Read books and notice how the layout is done and how the book is formatted. Also, research how to create e-books. Although I love paperbacks along with many other people, e-books are not going away. Facts are facts. If you do not format your creation as an e-book in addition to a paperback, then you will lose money. You want get your book into the hands of readers and e-books is a great way to achieve this.
4. Advertise Your Book: Whether you go through a publisher or decide to indie publish, you must advertise your own book and help to promote yourself! Once, an author said to a friend of mine that she thought that it is the responsibility of the publisher to advertise her book for her. Although this is true, it is also a shared responsibility between author and publisher. Even if you have just written the next great American novel guaranteed to become the next best seller, it won't get off the ground unless you self promote. This doesn't mean that you must rush out and spend hundreds of dollars advertising your book. Heavens no! But it does mean that you must schedule book signings, author reads, go to book conventions, and tell your friends. Also, go to your local book stores to see if they will carry your book. If one says no, then go on to the next. Be thick skinned! John Grisham was turned down by 14 literary agents before number 15 said yes and look where he is today. Don't give up; someone is bound to say yes. In fact, many indie book stores welcome and want to help promote local authors.
5. Self Promote: Be sure to promote yourself! You have to get the word out about your wonderful writing! What better way to do that than to create your own Web site and blog? Blogging on a regular basis helps to gain attention for your work and your writing. After all, if someone reads your blog and loves your writing style, he or she will then check out your book on the link posted in the margins of your blog. If you develop die-hard fans, then you could write a cereal box and fans will buy it! Stephenie Meyer is one such author, along with countless others. Meyer has fans of all ages lined up down the streets, waiting for hours at her book signings and book releases. This is not by accident. She was a great self promoter early on in her career. Another way to self promote is to create a venue for your writing in addition to blog posts. One way to gain fans and to self promote your writing is to enter writing contests. On big pages such as the Stephanie Meyer Facebook fan site, you can quickly hone your writing craft and develop a fan base at the same time. Winning or placing in contests will attract fans. Also, creating a short story page will help you to attract fans, as well, but make sure to keep posting updated material. You don't have to go nuts and post daily; however, a well-written short story or book chapter will keep fans tuning in weekly, waiting with bated breath for your next writing venture.
6. Public Appearances: Several years ago, I stumbled across a book club interview with an author who was speaking about her vampire book on the Barnes and Noble Web site. I had no idea who she was, but I loved the intimate setting of just eight people discussing her books. She told about her books with such passion that I stopped what I was doing to listen. A few months later, a friend of mine told me of a wonderful new book she had just read and urged me to read it. Of course, it was Twilight. Then, I remembered the intimate author interview on the Barnes and Noble Web site that I had seen before and, sure enough, it was Stephenie Meyer. Even as big as the Twilight series is today, Stephenie Meyer started out doing book signings where only eight people would show up. However, she loved the intimate gathering and enjoyed discussing her books with fans. Now, she fills auditoriums at her public appearances with fans of all ages. Word of mouth traveled quickly. Also, another great venue for public appearances that is oftentimes overlooked is schools. If you write young adult fiction, then schedule public appearances and book signings at middle schools and high schools. Do you write children's books? Then, elementary school students will love you! Before you go, work with the media specialist and find out their criteria and their expectations of authors. Once, a children's book author I recently saw--who was previously a teacher--first gave students a quick nonfiction presentation on something interesting to the students before giving her "author talk." At the time I saw her, her nonfiction talk was on George Washington's teeth--and the students ate it up! No pun intended! (Okay, maybe just a bit!) Also, keep in mind that at school appearances, you are also there to entertain as well as to promote literacy and writing, so let your personality shine through! Give your talk, maybe telling how you became a published author and about your books, then take questions and give answers with respect. Also, don't be afraid to give the students a laugh or maybe a joke or two! Entertain students, pique their interest in reading and writing and you will have a fan for life!
7. Be Professional: Any time you make a public appearance or talk to fans or other authors, it's very important to present yourself as a professional; otherwise, you will not be taken seriously. Always treat fans with respect, answer his or her questions, and tell about your book as many times as you have to--always with a smile on your face and in a professional, cordial manner. Also, dress for success. Nothing will put off readers and potential fans than eyeing an author in flip flops and shorts! Be professional in both dress, appearance and manner! Professionalism goes a long way and will add to your credibility as an author.
8. Never Give Up: Always strive for success and it will find you! Believe in yourself and others will, too!
If you do all of the things I mentioned above, then you'll be on the right track of stepping into the indie publishing realm. Again, indie publishing is not for everyone, but it is very rewarding for those who take the risk. Also, it's a great way to get your work into the hands of readers while looking for a traditional publisher, as well. Indie publishing is very rewarding, but don't expect a free ride--it's also a lot of work! Happy writing!
Theresa Oliver is the owner of Write More Publications and is the author of Star (Starland Vamp Series) (Vol.1) and Cambria, Cambria Series, Book 1, both available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. Her next young adult gook, Thou Shalt Not Kill, is coming soon from Write More Publications, along with the next two books in the two series mentioned above. Also, her first children's picture book Five Loaves, Two Fish, One Boy and Jesus is coming soon from Mirror Publishing. Oliver will also be a guest on three panel interviews at the upcoming UtopYAcon 2013, Young Adult Book Convention, in Nashville, Tenn., Friday, June 28, 2013, at 8:00 AM - Sunday, June 30, 2013, at 11:30 AM (CDT). Oliver's next blog post will be "How to Pick a Publisher," which will be posted next week. For more from Theresa Oliver, please visit her on Facebook, her Web site at www.theresaoliver.com, and on Twitter, @TheresaOliverA. Also, visit Write More Publications on Facebook and on their Web site, www.writemorepublications.com.
For more about UtopYAcan 2013, please visit their Web site at: http://utopyacon.com/