7 Things to Consider Before Indie Publishing

Strike at Midnight200This is a guest post by Katie Epstein, author of Strike at Midnight.

Katie Epstein is an author of fantasy and paranormal romance novels, and her books include the Prophecy Child series and the Far Far Away series. The Prophecy Child series was recently nominated in the Summer Indie Book Awards 2016 and Strike at Midnight, the first book to feature in the Far Far Away series, was released mid-September this year.

Katie has a great love of escapism in books and is fighting hard to change the perception of romance in the writing industry. She likes to write about fierce and independent female protagonists, and men who can hold their own while not being intimidated by a strong female character.

If you wish to learn more about Katie and her books, you can visit her website at http://www.katieepstein.com/ where there is news about new and existing stories and regular blog articles on her writing projects and life itself.

Katie Epstein

Author

Have you tried the Traditional Publishing Route?

Before you go down via the Indie Publishing route, have you sent your work off to any literary agents or publishers? If not, why not try that route first to see if your story is something that would be of interest to them? Resources like the Writer’s Handbook are great places to start in finding out what literary agents and publishers would take on your genre/type of writing, and it’s great practice in putting yourself out there.

A lot of agents and publishers have submission criteria that differ from place to place, and putting it together can help you form who you are as a writer as you identify with what your writing ambition actually is. The information they tend to require includes either a short synopsis and/or a long synopsis requirement, literary CVs, cover letters, first three chapters etc. and through putting these together you begin to understand what is being asked of you from the process. It can take up eight weeks to hear back from agents or publishers you send it to so this is something you may wish to consider before going down the indie publishing route.

Please don’t be disheartened if you get rejections. This is all part of the journey, and you have to be aware that these people get hundreds, if not thousands of manuscripts in short periods of time, so they will be looking for something they feel they can sell/promote as part of the current market trends. However, you may get lucky and find the right people who want to work with you.

Can you afford an Editor?

This is so important and it will be an integral part of the writing process if you choose to go down the indie route. You have to understand that all writers—big and small—need an editor, and this will prove to be a very wise investment in the long run. There are a lot of editors out there now who cater for the needs of indie authors, so they offer reasonable rates and payment plans.

It was something I always shied away from because of the cost, but when I realized how affordable it actually was after making a few small sacrifices, it turned out to the be the best thing that I ever did for my writing career.

What are you expecting to get from it?

Be honest with yourself from the beginning about what you want out of your writing. Do you just want to write a book and share it with the others, or do you want to turn it into a full-time career? There are a lot of questions you can ask yourself around this, but please be honest with yourself. Once you’ve done this, you’ll have a point of focus where you can build a strategy around it—like any business.

For example, if you just want to make money, then that’s going to a bit hit and miss for you because there is a lot you will need to invest in of yourself, not only money, to make this work for you. It takes time, dedication and sacrifice, so if you’re doing this only to make a quick buck, then you may be better off looking to sell another type of product. However, if you’re like me and you want to write because you want to share your stories and make money, then be honest about it and don’t feel guilty. You know it will be hard work yet you’re still prepared to do it anyway because writing is your passion. However, your strategy will be different between just wanting to get your book out there, compared to if you want to get your book out there and make money. Understand what you want, then you’ll know what to do to get it.

Paperback vs E-book

I know when you first start out that one of the most exciting things is seeing your book in print, but before you go down this route please take a pause. While you’re getting used to understanding what is involved in being an indie author, I would definitely suggest you try out the e-book only option first if it’s viable to do so. The main reason for this is when you produce a book electronically, there are ways for sales channels to push through new editions of the book to people who have already purchased it. You can’t do this if it’s in print. Once your paperback has been produced and published to the world, there is no going back.

A lot of sales channels will have to keep them on the shelves too—even if they say no stock—due to people second-hand selling. Now this is fine, and you may find that these first prints fetch a lot of money someday if you get big and famous. But there will always be a time when you look back and cringe at your early works—or you will if you’re anything like me! Take time getting to learn the process via the world of e-book first, then as you start to learn more and become more confident in what you’re selling, then I would advise pursuing the channels for a paperback.

Have you done your research?

There is so much out there for an indie author to learn that at first, it can come across as daunting. A lot of advice has also been written to put you off in a way, so you feel yourself falling at the first hurdle. Well, first of all, get that out of your head. If other people can do it, so can you.

A great place to start is in the FAQs of the sales channels you will be using to distribute your book. This allows you to understand what they require and what you will need to do to get your book out there. Then take a look at ways of marketing your books and read other author’s experiences and advice so you learn from their mistakes before making your own. Get a feel of what’s required, and try to shop around to estimate a rough cost of what it would take to produce a book if you’re going to be hiring editors/cover designers etc. This is going to be cheaper than you think it is, so why not have a target number that you can start saving for while you write the book? It could take you twelve months to write it, and in the background, you could be saving for the money you need. You can do indie publishing for free as the majority of sales channels take their percentage out of what you’ve been paid for the book, but remember one thing if nothing else…keep it professional!

Remember that you’re putting your book out against other authors who are competing for your market, so make sure yours has been given the right amount of shine to stand out. If you can do that for free, then even better!

What's your cover design plan?

There are lots of resources out there that can help you if you wish to design the cover yourself, but take a look around first to see if there is a designer you can use that will be able to accommodate your budget. There are a lot of great designers out there now who only do book cover design, and they offer different rates depending on what you need.

However, if you still want to do the cover yourself, then make sure it looks like a book cover and not like something that has been put together in five minutes. Photoshop and other similar programs will prove to be a great investment from the onset, and Photoshop do a monthly subscription service now to make it more affordable. By learning how to use these programs, you will be able to have the right tools to give you the high professional look you need. However, these won’t work the magic of creating a concept for the cover, that’s up to you. There are a lot of people out there who share royalty free photos now you can use, but always check the licensing on their website to ensure you don’t have to give attribution or any other requirements you may not wish to do. Do your research!

Do you have a marketing strategy?

Marketing strategies can be scary things. If people say it to me I still get chills up my spine, but it’s not as scary as it sounds. A strategy is just a plan, and once you have a plan, you have a way. For me, my marketing strategy is finding somewhere like Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, or other advertising services that are a consistent forum for me to advertise my books.

Then, in the interim, I look for people who are willing to promote the books on their forums or websites either for free or a small cost. The best thing about all of these is that they can be tailored to your budget, so do what’s right for you.

Summary:

So, there you go, a few considerations to review and research before you get started on your indie publishing journey. Know that none of this has been written to put you off, in fact, I only hope it encourages you all the more. Your main objective should always be to get your story out there, and the rest are just stepping stones in getting you to where you want to be. Don’t think that it’s impossible, or that you can’t do it, because you’re either writing or have written a book! If you can do that? You can do anything! Good luck on your journey!

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