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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How to Indie Publish (in a Nutshell)

I’m of the Indie camp, much like I am of the Edward camp but with feelings for Jacob.

So I believe, even while you unpublished authors are awaiting that dream agent and that dream contract from your first-choice dream publisher, you should Indie publish in the meantime.  Traditional publishing (Trad pubbed) is going through some changes and still takes a year or two to get your book in print, so why not earn money now on your creative endeavors by uploading to Amazon and Barnes & Noble as you send out queries? 

In my current day job, I have found two newbie authors who have inquiring minds.  I have so much to share just having gone this far on the journey. 

Here’s a quick overview of what I did.

  1. Write a good book, regardless if fiction or nonfiction.  Keep writing.  Whether you focus on one and finish it before you start another, FINISH one.  It is not as easy as some make it look.  I have two completed novels, one 215 pages and growing plus the other 400-plus pages—both in need of the Final Edit.  But I also have eight new stories started.  Keep notes of good ideas you get, wonderful conversations you overhear with a desire to place those in a future novel.  Remember, just as quickly as you get these ideas, they can flit away as fast as you can blink.  Back up those WIPs (works-in-progress).  Print them out (think Y2K).  You can NEVER recreate those exact words.  Trust me.
  2. Join as many writing groups in your area as you can find time to attend.
  3. Read as many books on writing as you can put your hands on.  This means going to the library and then, when you find a gem, buy that book to add to your own personal library—or take copious notes.  I’m on a budget but books are my jewelry, and I buy them at Half-Price Books or used ones from Amazon.
  4. Read as many books from authors you love.  Learn from them.  See where they break the supposed “rules” and pull it off.
  5. Spell Check/Grammar Check.  Turn on spell check and grammar check within your word processing system and take the time to really consider the words or phrases it brings to your attention.  This one step alone could elevate your book over the masses.
  6. Edit/copy edit your work--whether you do it (under the right parameters), your valued critique partners (CPs) do it or you hire a freelancer to do it.
  7. Cover Art.  Again, you do it or you hire it out.  NOTE:  Nook requirements for the pixels are different from Kindle’s.  Check out book covers that grab your eye, whether in a brick-and-mortar store or online.  Are you drawn to certain colors or landscapes over people?  Decide.  Use that info to create the cover YOU want, regardless if your genre is romance and you “have” to put a half-naked man on the cover.  NOT.  You are in charge.  You choose.  Make it the best cover for that particular book.  Think out of the box.  In fact, imagination is king.  Where better to release your creativity than in the creative world of writing books?
  8. Front Matter/Back Matter.  Check out paperbacks in the bookstore, hard covers in the library.  Pattern the organization of your book after those.
  9. Give more.  I have several things currently at the back of my books:  a “success formula” and a prose poem on my success philosophy.  However, I am currently amassing a collection of my favorite quotes to supplement these goodies already at the end of my books.  Plus, I am playing with making bookmarks out of my covers and adding them to my e-books as well.  I can never have enough bookmarks.  If my readers are like that too, then they can print off my bookmarks onto card stock, cut them apart with a paper cutter and voila!  Five new bookmarks.
  10. One great idea I’ve heard of, and confirmed with Amazon, is the positioning of links to your other books within each of your offerings.  If you read the Amazon contract, there is language about “no advertising” in your books which seems like a teaser for your next book tacked on the last page of your other books would be a no-no.  Hence, the link.  Not an advertisement, yet takes your reader directly to other books you have written.  Now THAT’s marketing at its best.
  11. Read all the Indie publishing info within the Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites.
  12. Uploading.  Again, read the Kindle and Nook How-To articles.  Uploading is easy, yet takes a little time.  I did both my e-book and my cover art uploads by myself.  If you can afford to have a third-party do it and save you some hours, spend that time you recouped doing something worthwhile—like more writing.
  13. Have a book blurb ready to upload as well.  Study cover jackets at the book store or online Amazon descriptions to give you ideas.
  14. Decide which two “sections” your book most appropriately should be slated for (like:  nonfiction, reference or fiction, romance).
  15. Create your Author Page on Amazon.  This is your Bio.  Mention your other books.
  16. Tag your book online at Amazon and B&N.  This is where more particulars define your work:  comedy, humor, baby-related, etc.
  17. Marketing.  This is not my niche.  Read about that elsewhere.  Knowing this is my weak area, take the rest of this and compare it to what the experts are saying.  I’m doing bare bones marketing:  I have a blog.  I’ve done the Amazon Author Page.  I think my second greatest marketing idea is the link within each of your books that leads to your other books (which I still need to do).  Having other books to offer your readers is the greatest marketing idea of all (which I am already doing).  Keep writing great books!
My first two nonfiction books were uploaded March 26, 2011.  My first royalty check was received May 27, 2011.  My third nonfiction book was uploaded June 8, 2011.  I received two more royalty checks by the time this blog posted.  My debut novel is slated for uploading November 2011.

I did this while working a “day job” to supplement my freelance corporate copyediting work as I penned my novels.  I’m working easily eighty-hours-a-week.  But loving my new career and all the possibilities!  What I gave up cannot compare to what I have.

I did it.  So can you.  Go for it!

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