Thursday, June 16, 2011

Should you do it yourself?

Self publishing today isn't the same as it was even three years ago. If you choose the self-published option there is no reason for you to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to put your work out there.

Amazon has a wonderful option called Kindle Direct Publishing, also knows as CreateSpace. Publishing with Amazon is free. There is also Smashwords and Barnes and Noble's Pubit site. You don't need to spend a ton of money to get your book out there. But should you self publish your book?

There are many self published works out there that are terrible, there are also some great books. What makes a book terrible? Either the content or the condition of the language. Content problems are more difficult to fix. The condition of your language or grammar is much easier, but still a huge tasks. If you are one of those people who scored all F's in school in English Literature and Grammar then putting your work out there without a professional editor is a mistake.

Not all professional editors are created equal. Some are good, others suck. How do you know who to go to? Word of mouth. Talk to writers and find out who has helped them. Learn from others and use their experience to help you along. Get quotes from multiple editors and go with someone you trust.

If you book needs to be edited for content, that is much more difficult. At some point you need to listen to what others are telling you about your book. Join a critique group and really listen to their critique. Not all critique's are solid though. I've had the rogue critiques that were totally off base. Know your audience and study other books in print.

Things to pay attention to. The time line of your story. I've read self published works that terribly mess up the time line. By the third chapter I'm so confused because the author hasn't kept the time line straight. If your book starts on a Thursday don't make the next scene the Wednesday before unless you do a flashback, which isn't recommended. A good way to lose readers is to confuse them.

If you feel that you can work out the kinks of your novel, then do so and self publish. If you are new to writing, do everyone a favor and find someone else to edit your book for content and grammar.

Publishing by yourself does mean that you will be doing all of the advertising. You won't be able to tag along with other books from the publisher, because there are no other books. Once you build a solid foundation with ten to twenty books then you will have a built in readership, but between now and then you will have a load of promotion that you will have to do. Authors at large publishing houses also have to advertise, but they do have a bit more backing to build them up and help launch the book.

So does that mean you need to hire a publicist? Not necessarily. Social media and word of mouth helps to sell your books. There is also a great deal of luck involved too. Either way you will be required to do hard work. Going with a large publisher will get you more money up front, but it could also stifle your creativity and your productivity.


Anonymous said...

Nice blog. Lot's of info. As a selp-pub myself, it is true one needs to be careful of the editing situation. My first novel was put out with typos, which I have since had corrected (at my expense) but some readers are unforgiving, no matter how wonderful your story may be.
I have all 4-5 star rating, then one bad egg will fail to let a few typos go and give you a terible beat down. It happens, just move on.
Try to be diligent, get an editor and have fresh eyes flesh out your mistakes for you.
And, as far as the marketing's a lot of work. I had to buy a website, join Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. Then, as a self-pub, you have to manage all those sites and continue to update yourself.
In the end, I'm loving it and have my second book coming out in two weeks.
Sherri A. Dub

Sara York said...

Hey Sherri, sounds like you've learned and are doing things right. Keep at it. Self publishing is a great way to get your book out there.

Kally said...

Hi, Sara! Great blog/topic! Don't know how I missed it before.

As you know , I'm "self-publishing," although I still insist on calling it being an indie writer. I'm stubborn that way.

My first novella goes to my editor on Wednesday. She's someone who has worked for years with publishing houses. (Don't just choose a friend with an English Lit/Writing degree because they're cheaper or free. Get someone who knows the genre you're writing in!) She's going to edit my novella for $200 and my novel for $300, which is pretty good from the other quotes I received. The price includes having her look it over once more after revisions are made to her edits. I will find out next month how good she is!

I've already got the first two covers made (check them out at my blog Yes, another indie publishing expense. Luckily, I have a graphic artist friend looking for a retirement career, so she wanted to try her hand at doing book covers. I think you'll agree she's going to do VERY well at her new career, whenever she comes out of the closet.) I usually provide the photos of the hero(s) and heroine(s) and just tell her what other elements I'd like to have and then she works her magic. Once I'm making money on the books, though, I plan to pay her $125 for each one, which she said seems to be the standard for the ones I told her I liked. Another option we've discussed is just paying her a percentage of the profits I make on the books. That's an option if you don't have money for an artist right up front and I'm sure there are cover artists willing to do that. But it's pretty risky for them if they aren't assured your book will do well.

My first two books launch in August and I have a lot to do by then. I don't think marketing an an indie is any more strenuous than it is for someone working with a publisher, tho. You have to get the word out or your book will be hard to find at their site.

I would like to share a marketing tip on using social media that I just discovered by accident. When I created my Kallypso Masters pseudonym, she needed a persona that fit her exotic name. So, I started saying sometimes outrageous things and just having fun with my friends/followers. I've met some great people as a result (one of whom is practically my free publicist now--check my wall and blog comments and I'm sure you'll see who I mean). We've never even met until I started my FB page.

Oh, the accidental discovery was when I started to talk about my characters/scenes as if they were real. (Of course, they are to me and will be to readers while they read the books, I hope.) You cannot imagine how fascinated readers are with the writing process. How we come up with ideas. What eye candy inspires us. Make your characters start to become real in social media! Tease them with what your stories are about. I talk about the Dominant masters from my RESCUE ME series as if they're people in my life. I even send them over to "service" some of my fans on occasion. (Warning: Sometimes it's hard to get them back here to work on their scenes, though, so you might want to loan out your characters sparingly. Two of the three masters are with my "pseudo-publicist" right now. I'm sure they're working on my promotions. Yeah, right. )

Just let your hair down and have fun. Yes, remain professional. But don't bore your friends with nothing but self-promotion (buy my book, read my blog, etc.). Engage with them!

(Too long-winded, see part two of my comment )

Kally said...

Oh, and lastly (phew!) leave comments on as many blogs as you can (but not necessarily this long!) because people will see them and, if something you've said resonates with them, you'll get new friends/followers. You might target ones for writers who write in the same genre as you.

I've only been on Facebook as Kally for about five weeks and have more than 300 friends. Another 160 followers on Twitter (which I don't use as much). Not only are friends telling friends to follow me (I got my first #mustfollow on Twitter yesterday!), but I have one reader who has been talking me up to the patients at the hospital where she works. (How the future books of an erotic romance Dom/sub writer came up in that setting is a story unto itself. )

Okay, I probably could have written a blog on this topic myself and probably will. Sorry to be so long-winded, Sara, but hope it helps some of your followers and other indie writers!

Sara York said...

Hi Kally, thanks for the great info. It sound like you've done a great job investigating what's reasonable and what works. Congratulations on knowing what to do and taking the leap to make it happen.

Lizzie Walker said...

Hi Kally, your pseudo publicist is checking in! I promise you I will relinquish the boys as soon a possible. They told me that they needed a quick vacation so that they could give you 110% of their time.

They better or I will give them a "what for" LOL

Sara, I loved your post. As a writer I find myself constantly trying to wade through the plethora of information that has been recently posted on the internet if you are a self published writer. I've also interviewed a few. Kally will be next when she gets her book out.

It's important in the writing community to promote and support other writers as well as yourself.

I encourage writers to also join organizations in your genre. I belong to Romance Writers of America, Celtic Hearts and New Jersey Romance Writers.

Organizations like these are helpful resources and tight knit communities that give the budding and established writer a place of support.

Kally said...

I agree, Lizzie! (I know what you'll do if I don't!)

I'm in RWA and Kentucky Romance Writers (KYRW) and also in some online writers groups that share industry news and support. Networking is SOOOO important, but also provides us with some contact with others, because writing can be so solitary.

There. I'm done! Believe it or don't.

Lizzie Walker said...

LMAO!! you bet your rear you know what I'll do. ;-)

Too true Kally, too true and I tell you, when you do join these communities, you get to meet wonderful people...Just like Kally.