An author's job entails so much more than the writing-it-down part. Traditional-published and Indie-published novelists alike have to do rewrites and marketing (of some degree or fashion). But this list is evidence of how we Indies take our ideas from our brain to an upload page on our chosen venues:
- Think it first, followed by writing it down. This incubation period between the two may take many hours of staring out a window looking at nothing. Nevertheless I think I need a sign that says Yes, I'm Really Working Right Now.
- Revise as many times as needed to make sure a clear translation of our imagination is set down for our reader. This is crucial. I'm all about intelligent communication. Be consistent, clear and chronological.
- Complete a final edit, which includes both big and little details. Here we need a good editor. We don't want to give Indies a bad name. If doing it yourself, at least use The Chicago Manual of Style, sixteenth edition (CMS), and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, eleventh edition (Web11), as your guides. If they conflict, CMS trumps Web11. For the "big picture" review, I recommend Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King. It's excellent.
- Create a cover or commission one done. It must look good even in thumbnail size (check it at 25% view within Microsoft Word, as this is about the size of books when searching on Amazon and getting the sixteen-or-more-to-a-page results). When I last uploaded a new book in March 2013, the JPEG cover had to be under 2000 pixels on the long side to be acceptable to Amazon, B&N, Kobo. Not sure if Smashwords has changed its requirements since I last uploaded there sometime in 2012, but the under-2000 limit worked then.
- Write blurbs, of differing lengths, to best fit in the initial windows of the online venues, so the prospective buyer doesn't have to click Expand or Show More to see it all. Here's a post re the actual WC for my four main sites, which may have changed since I wrote it: http://livingthedreampublishing.blogspot.com/2012/09/blurb-tips-less-than-127wc-for-amazon.html.
- Pick categories and key words wisely. The number of genres available to us within which to list our book varies from site to site. If memory serves, as of March 2013, it was two for Amazon, three for B&N and five for Kobo. But check each site's upload form to be sure, since this industry changes by the nanosecond. Have at least seven key words noted for the new book. Study SEO tips to help in choosing.
- Add new book to first forum of choice by typing in the online form. Fill in the blanks. It's easy. Especially if items 4-6 above were prepared ahead of time.
- Preview! Look for glitches. Fix them. This is another place where it is crucial to look as professional as possible. After the copy editor has done her job and the author has Accepted/Rejected the changes, I suggest hiring an experienced formatter (sometime between steps 3 and 7).
- Hit Upload. Do celebration dance now. But not for long. Now repeat steps 7-9 for the other venues.
- Marketing. Not my area of expertise, so ask someone else for this advice. Remember what works for one may not work for all or even just you or me. Also remember how "this industry changes by the nanosecond."
Denise Barker, author + blogger + copy editor