The journey to becoming an indie-published author has been rewarding and one I would recommend. It is not for the faint of heart, however.
Art Linkletter once quoted Bette Davis, “old age ain’t no place for sissies. Indie publishing (self-publishing) “ain’t no place for sissies” either. If you take the opportunity to become an independent author-publisher you will face challenges, but the rewards are worth it.
My own learning curve taught me to think in what I call my rule of threes. I believe that following them will help me to avoid the three deadly sins of self-publishing in the future.
The Three Rules
The first rule demands that authors write a good story, well told. Plot bunnies look like cute little creatures until they get hungry. They nibble around our brains and are the ideas for a story demanding to be told. All writers know how difficult it is to steer them in an organized direction, some say harder even than herding cats. Whether you plot your novel or write by the seat of the pants, you owe it to the reader to give them a well-written story. If you do you will hear the rave reviews. That brings us to editing. Editing and rewriting is a tedious and thankless job. Going through a 100,000 word manuscript line-by-line and page-by-page is slow going. It is something that has to be done before putting your story in the hands of a competent editor. Most of us are not married to a professional copy editor nor have one as a friend, so why rely on family and friends? It costs money, a precious commodity for most of us indie publishers, but I can’t imagine not doing it. I service my automobile to avoid complications later. I think the service of a good editor is similar.
The second rule in the rule of threes calls for putting a good face to our work. For the same reason I wouldn’t skip the hard work of rule number one, or the service of a good editor, I need a cover designer that knows how to match the cover with the story. The cover is your invitation to a reader and it has to promise what the reader will find between the covers.
The third rule is to have a plan for marketing. This is where you have to ask yourself the question of what you will do after you have sold books to friends and family. I have heard many indie authors say they were blindsided by the need to market their books. To break through the noise and draw attention to your book means having a plan to get the most from a tight budget. Your plan can include a lot of things you can do with sweat equity.
Three Deadly Sins
That brings us to the three deadly sins of self-publishing.
The first deadly sin is sloppy or poor writing. When a story is poorly organized, meanders when it shouldn’t, and in other ways does not deliver on its promise to a reader, you risk publishing a story that gives indie publishing a bad reputation. If you fall into the trap of hurried writing or producing a cluttered story you will suffer the pain of a poor review. Isn’t it the worst fear of a writer to have a reader stop reading by not turning to the next page? Sometimes cost is ‘the’ issue. If that is the case you need to do serious self-editing. Readers spot typos and misspelled words, along with grammatical dust balls. They not only do spot them, they love to point them out. It was embarrassing when chapter thirteen in one of my novels will be forever be chapter “thirteer” in print. I turned that into a marketing gimmick by initialing that page at book signings. After all, it will be a collector’s item someday. But I dearly wish that mistake isn’t staring at me every time I open that page.
The second deadly sin I committed was going with template covers to avoid expense. My first two books are good examples of how not to choose a cover, especially when compared to those same to books with covers created by a competent designer. My designer understood my stories and matched them with great covers.
The third deadly sin is to bury one’s head in the sand when it comes to marketing. Few of us are born marketers. But a garage full of books gathering dust is not a marketing plan.
Is there help?
In a word, yes. There are local writing groups that are sources for information. Meet other indie authors who have self-published. Join associations like the Association of Independent Authors and take advantage of the tips available. Contact other indie authors by email. You will find most of us quite willing to share. There are resources at the library and online. Grab what you can for free.
What’s the Reward?
Not only will you experience the feel-good reward from a well done self-published book, you will not have to share the credit, you can hold up your head and smile. And, by the way, you will also share more of the revenue. That may be the best part of all.
Chuck is an independent author with three published novels:
Tears in the Dust
Remington & the Mysterious Fedora
His fourth novel, The Lion’s Head Deception, is currently in rewrite with an expected launch in mid-summer 2012.
As an independent author and publisher, I have learned some valuable lessons through trial and error. If you are considering self-publishing I hope you find the encouragement you need to take control of your publishing destiny. Welcome to the Indie Book Rebellion.
In addition to my own writing I am proud to be a partner at a new service for independent authors, a place where you can expect editorial, cover design, and support in developing your marketing strategy. Visit http://www.canamauthorservices.com