The How and Where of Indie Publishing
“An indie publisher is still a publisher, the same as any traditional publisher.” Dean Wesley Smith
Amazon. Barnes & Noble. Smashwords. Kobo. iBooks. Google. On Demand. Create Space. Overdrive. Ingram. Sony. Diesel. Books on Board. Baker & Taylor. Did I miss any? Yes, tons.
E-book only? Print, too? What about audio books? Gads. Any more decisions? Yes, tons.
Branding myself as an author? Designing my interior? My cover has to do what? Is there more I need to know? Yes, tons.
The market is expanding every day with platforms, big and small, designed to publish your indie author work. There are also platforms that are willing to handle the distribution end of your book for you. That means you publish one place and they do all the work. That may sound good, but there are some pitfalls.
What is the essential component here?
For you to figure out what is your level of expertise. How much time do you have available to spend on this adventure? How much control do you want over the details? How proficient are you with technology? Whether you have written a cookbook, a work of fiction, or non-fiction, some of the decisions facing you will be the same. Where do you want to sell your book? What versions will be available? How are you going to identify yourself to your reader?
These are only a few of the questions. There are many, many more and some will be things you didn’t consider. Every writer brings a different skillset to the table, experiences that can be drawn on to make this quest a success. Even if you are a published author and have some familiarity with what it takes to bring a manuscript to fruition, or you intend to hire out, there are still decisions to be made and things to consider.
So let’s run through a few essential questions and answer segment, questions you should ask yourself before beginning the complex journey through successful indie publishing.
1. Professional: Is writing a hobby or a passion? Because passion will carry you through this process. Not that curiosity doesn’t have its own learning drive, but passion to put your work out there is going to carry you through the complicated, frustrating avalanche of information. You are going to work hard and learn hard. Be prepared.
2. Physical: How much time do you have available? This isn’t an overnight process. Matters not whether you approach this as a full-time endeavor or do it in your spare time around job and family concerns. The entire process from editing to book cover production to finalizing formatting to proofreading to publishing can take many hours and hours of work. If you think you’ll read this book one night and publish the next, uh….we’d love to tell you that, but not happening. There are steps that shouldn’t be skipped, steps which take time to do. Decide what level of quality you want your name attached to before you begin this process.
3. Creative: How would you rate your level of technological savvy? High, medium, low? You don’t have to be a guru. You don’t have to have a computer science degree. But if you handwrite your manuscripts and shudder any time you have to turn on a computer, you need to assess your ability to learn this process and be honest with yourself. There is a high learning curve here. There are no difficult concepts, just new and varied ones.
4. Emotional: Do you use more software than the internet? Because being semi-proficient in Word, PowerPoint, knowing how to convert files to PDF, understanding technology newer than Windows 95 is essential. Coping strategies for handling your risk-taking, diving stomach are essential. Prepping a full manuscript for publication is not for sissies. Understanding how to manipulate unfamiliar programs and not giving up until you can deliver a product YOU are happy with – that’s the aim.
5. Financial: What’s your budget? Nothing? Hundred bucks? A thousand bucks? And your tolerance for spending that? Because there is a certain amount of overhead cost that you may not see back. Many writers don’t see a return until their third, fourth, fifth book. There are production costs depending on how much of this you plan to do yourself, so think through your financial concerns.
If after all that soul-searching analysis you are still ready to try, congratulations and welcome to the world of indie publishing. Pat yourself on the back, roll up your sleeves, and get to work.