If you’re considering going indie, many decisions need to be made. I worried about the process, the how-to, but after releasing my first self-published title (Unexpected Consequences) and preparing for the second (Breeder 3: Warrior), I discovered it wasn’t the process that was hard, it was all the decisions before that point. Once a course of action is set, the rest is easy-peasy.
Here are some considerations:
- Do you publish under your author name or a “company” name? Using your
author name is the simplest way—but self-publishing still carries a bit of stigma and you may want a separate company-sounding name to avoid that. I assume (someone correct me if I’m wrong) that using a company name requires forming an LLC, filling out paperwork, paying a fee, and getting a local business license (more paperwork and fees). I didn’t want to go through all of that, and if anyone asks if I’ve self-published, I’m going to say yes anyway, so I decided to use my own name.
- ISBN or no ISBN? You don’t need one to self-publish, and they’re expensive. Amazon assigns your book their ASIN anyway, and other sites have numbers too. However, an ISBN identifies you as the publisher and encodes the book with a lot of other info. And, as I serendipitously discovered, if one’s book is re-released with a new ISBN and the previous book had an ISBN, the reviews will carry over! You can buy a block of 10 ISBNs from Bowker for $275-$295 (they’re currently on sale). A single IBSN is $125. However, each format requires its own ISBN (so, one for Kindle, one for Nook, one for pdf etc.)
- Where will you publish? Amazon is the big kahuna. You can easily “get by” with publishing exclusively on Amazon. And there are benefits for doing so. However, you may not want to put all your eggs in one basket. So you may want to consider Nook Press, ARe, Smashwords, Sony. You must decide if you only going to e-publish. Or will you do a Print-on-Demand book or Audio? Foreign translations? But again, you can start simple and as you gain confidence, expand your repertoire.
- How much do you want to do yourself? You can do as little or as much as you want. There are folks who will “help” you self-publish to the extent that it will almost be like working with a publisher. Or you can do everything yourself. Or any degree in the middle.
- Finding and hiring an editor. You know those death-defying stunts you see on TV with the fine print says, “don’t try this at home?” Editing should come with a similar disclaimer. You cannot edit your own manuscript! (And your bestie who was good in English doesn’t count either). You will need a content editor who can identify plot holes, shallow characterizations, POV shifts, pacing problems, etc. and a line/copy editor who will correct grammar, spelling and punctuation. These should be two different people. Ask your author friends for recommendations. Is there a self-published book that you thought was well done? Ask the author who she/he used. Just about every book credits the editor. Google her/him.
- Finding and hiring a cover artist. Another stunt with a disclaimer. Hire a professional. Again, ask around. Cover artists all have websites. Check out their work. Find an artist who has done covers for books in your genre. You can buy“pre-made” covers, but custom covers are relatively inexpensive. You might pay $40 for a pre-made one, but you can get a custom one for as little as $75-80. If you’ve worked with a publisher and liked your cover artist, chances are that person freelances. Track him down. (ditto for editors!).
I’d had 15 books published with four different publishers before I decided to go indie. To my surprise, self-publishing isn’t that much more work at all. When I used a publisher, I still worked with editors and cover artists, and did ALL my own promotion. A lot of time was wasted waiting for the publisher to act. (Yeah, I know they’re busy with other authors’ books. But when you’re the self-publisher, the only book in the queue is yours). The time I save not waiting more than makes up for the initial legwork.
If you’re considering self-publishing, here are two ‘must read’ books:
The Naked Truth about Self-Publishing by the Indie Voice – everything, literally everything, you ever wanted to know about self-pubbing. A lot of how-to and things to consider. And the author stories are inspirational. I doubt that there is a better book on self-publishing than this one.
Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing – Amazon’s step-by-step free instructions for self-publishing on its site. You can also get this a PDF download. If you’re wondering if you can do-it-yourself, check this out.
Questions? Other considerations prospective indies should take into account:
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Coming up this week:
Wednesday, Oct. 1, A spotlight on Sue Lyndon and her first indie book, Maid to Submit
Thursday, Oct. 2, An interview with a vampire of Loose Morals by Darling Adams aka Renee Rose
Friday, Oct. 3, Don’t take it personally–it’s just business. How many times have you heard that? Here’s my take on the business of writing.
Saturday, Oct. 4, Another eight sentence excerpt from Warrior, the third Breeder sci-fi romance.
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