Self-publishing, aka indie publishing, has come a long way in the last ten years. Once viewed as the domain of vanity press and populated by desperate writers unable to receive publishing deals, indie publishing has matured and earned a level of respectability it once lacked.
More and more authors are turning to indie publishing, either in combination with their traditionally published works, or in lieu of them altogether. In addition, as small publishers go out of business, authors gain the rights to their books (if they fight for them), and many consider publishing those same books themselves.
Due to the explosion of publishing tools and services, it’s easier than ever for authors to do just that. But the path of indie publishing is not an easy one, and authors need to do their homework before venturing down that road.
The first thing an aspiring indie publisher must do is build her publishing team. Publishing houses consist of editors, proofreaders, book designers, cover designers, marketers, etc., and the indie publisher will need these services as well. Most of these services cost money, so budget development needs to be part of the planning process.
An indie publisher’s team should include:
Essential resource for authors (both indie and traditional)
Can assist with identifying plot holes, character inconsistencies, etc.
Sources can include critique groups, Kindle boards, Goodreads, etc
Most of these sources are free; Goodreads does offer paid beta readers
Most critical member of your team
Most expensive member of your team
Hire a professional with editorial experience in your genre
Don’t rely on friends, relatives, or other writers—unless they’re professional editor.
Readers are quick to spot poorly edited books, resulting in negative reviews
Second most critical member of your team
Hire a professional with design experience in your genre
Provide them with a comprehensive brief of your story as a design guide
Story summary, character descriptions, setting descriptions, themes, etc.
When assessing proposed designs, be sure to evaluate in thumbnail size
Several options exist here:
Hire a book formatting service to prepare your manuscript for ebook or print—or both
Authors who are budget conscious can do this yourself provided you are:
Proficient with your writing software, i.e. Microsoft Word, Scrivener, Vellum, etc., and tech savvy enough to handle simple html
Consideration must be given by do-it-yourselfers to:
Book trim size – 6” x 9” is the most common
Margins, gutter width, headers and footers, indent, heading and body fonts, line spacing, character spacing, etc.
Font selection – evaluation should include italics and capital letter forms
Page layout – chapter beginning page position, etc.
Conversion for upload
Print editions – need to convert to PDF
Ebook editions – need to convert using software such as Calibre (free)
As with book design, authors have several options:
Hire a publicist, marketing service, etc.; be sure they have experience with your genre
Do this yourself via social media, advertising, etc.
Though this may save the initial expense of hiring someone, this is a much slower route (i.e., steep learning curve), requires extraordinary amounts of time, and can result in ineffective uses of advertising dollars
As you can see, the road to indie publishing can be daunting, and it’s littered with the carcasses of failed books. But if you choose this path, do it with your eyes wide open and make every effort to present your book in the most professional manner possible—because your competition is not only other indie-published books whose authors have figured out how to navigate that road, but books from the traditional publishers who built it.
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Roh Morgon is an indie author of “urban fantasy with a romantic bite.” She recently released two books from her series The Chosen—a second edition of Watcher: Book I of The Chosen with a new edit, additional scenes, and a new cover; and its sequel, Runner: Book II of The Chosen. She can be found on her blog, Facebook, and Amazon.
Here’s a short blurb on Watcher:
Sunny Martin’s been a monster - or so she thinks - since the night she was drained of her blood and left for dead. But when she falls in love with Nicolas, the mysterious leader of The Chosen, she discovers a startling truth behind her savage nature which may force her to choose between her heart and the last remnant of her human soul.