In Part 1 of “Going Indie” I said I liked being the captain of my ship. I do! Well, mateys, being a captain means a lot more than steering the ship or writing and editing your manuscript. Simultaneously while all the editing is going on, you need to:
Paint me pretty
Hire a cover artist, one who will bring your vision to life. My books are both eBooks and POD (Print on Demand). If you’re planning on the same, you need a cover artist to create your great book cover, spine, and back cover.
Depending on your demographic, boost your Facebook (Twitter, Instagram, etc.) presence. Choose one to focus on and at least a secondary one. (Choose too many and you’ll go nuts.)
Find (often via Facebook or Instagram or Twitter) like-minded genre writers you respect and build relationships with them. I’ve found writers are the most generous and giving people. I’ve learned so much about the Indie path from other writers.
You’ll probably publish on Amazon. But you’ll need to decide whether you want to go wide (Amazon, iBooks, Nook, etc.) or focus solely on Amazon. This is a complex decision and there are advantages to both.
If you’re doing POD, I’d suggest purchasing an ISBN from Bowker.
An ISBN and a barcode are those numbers and funny lines in a rectangular box on the back of a print book.) You can use Amazon’s ASIN on your e-book, but for print, I’d recommend purchasing an ISBN. Why? Because it makes it easier for independent bookstores and libraries to buy hard copies of your book.
Write your book’s blurb intended for your website, online, and the back cover of your print book.
Quote me, baby
If possible, get other writers in your genre to offer a quote for your book. If that’s not possible, no biggie.
Put it together
Format your book for online and print – two very different processes, by the way. I’ve done formatting a variety of ways, including using Scrivener, Amazon, manually, etc. Then I discovered Vellum, a pricy but invaluable time-saving tool. (I am in no way affiliated with the app or the company.) Worth the dollars, especially if you don’t want to go bald pulling your hair out while formatting.
Setting a price can be complicated, too. For some reason $1.99 stinks. I have no idea why but people don’t tend to buy books at that price. Other than that, anywhere from $.99 to $9.99 works. The price for print is based on the number of pages, as well as other factors.
Almost good to go
Upload your book to the retailer (Amazon, iBooks, etc.), but don’t publish! Sorry to scream with that exclamation point, but many first-time authors publish instantly. A crucial step is proofing your book. There are online/app tools to enable you to proof your ebook. Your print book? Order a hard copy. Good thing I did, because in my first print book proof, I had to bump up the font. This changed the price of the book (more pages, higher price), but it allowed my readers to read without a magnifying glass.
Get the word out
I’m not going deeply delve into promo here. In truth promo and marketing aren’t much different from being a traditionally published, mid-list author with the exceptions of reviewers. You are now the one writing query letters to bloggers, newspapers, etc., in order to get your book reviewed.
Your number one marketing tool
Whether you are an Indie or a traditionally published author, your newsletter is Number One. Where the heck did I get that info? While doing research on the subject, I found time and again the pros in the field of author marketing say the biggest bang comes from the quality, frequency, and breadth of your newsletter. You need newsletter readers. Lots of them. Other Indie authors I’ve consulted concur.
Dollars and cents
Now you know. You can’t sail your ship alone. And you’ll often have to pay for those on your crew.
- Developmental Editor: $300–$4000+
- Copyeditor: $100–$2000
- Cover artist: $5–$2000+
- Formatter: $50–$200 (For a price, some cover artists will also format)
- Vellum: $250 (print and ebook)
- ISBNs: 1 = $125; 10 = $295
- Barcodes: 1–5 = $25 each
While I’ve given a range of prices above, understand the most expensive supplier isn’t necessarily the best one. Awful covers can be created for thousands and terrific ones can be created for as little as two hundred dollars. Where to find all these people? That’s another blog post.
But if you have questions, please come to the Career Authors’ Facebook page. Let’s chat!
Vicki Stiefel is the award-winning author of the Tally Whyte Homicide Counselor series and The Afterworld Chronicles, her romantic urban fantasy series, which launched with Chest of Bone. Chest of Stone hit shelves in November. Instead of becoming an actress, as planned, she’s slung burgers, run a scuba shop, and become a college prof. She’s a mom to two wonderful humans and a furry pack. Her passions for movies, fly fishing, and knitting pop up in her novels.
Currently, she’s playing with her pup, Penny, going wild in L.A., and pounding the keys on Chest of Air.