For those of you not intimately familiar with how the publishing world works these days, there are two main paths to publication, traditional publishing and self-publishing. Traditional publishing is what people typical think about when talking about publishing a book. In the simplest of terms, it’s finding an agent, who then tries to sell your story to a publishing house, who then publishes your book. When you self-publish then you basically become your own publishing house and bring your book to the world all on your own. There are certainly pros and cons to both paths. I won’t go into detail because that would take up the whole post but in general with traditional publishing you have a wider distribution, an army of expert behind you, and no upfront costs, but traditional publishing contracts are hard to come by, you lose some control over your story and it can take a long time before you book are actually in the hands of your readers. When you self-publish you have complete control over the final product, you generally earn a higher royalty on your book, and you can get them published much faster, but you are completely on your own, all the upfront cost fall on you, and it can be tougher to get your book the visibility of traditionally published work.
I decided to self-publish The Journey Missions series and happily joined the ranks of other amazing Indie Authors. It’s incredibly hard work but so amazing to have your story out in the world. Since a lot of people don’t know everything that goes along with being an Indie Author I thought I’d explain all the things I do as one.
As an Indie Author I’m responsible for all of the marketing associated with my book. Since I don’t have a background in marketing this has been one of the toughest challenges I’ve faced so far. I have to do a ton of research on marketing trends and options, create my own adds and graphics to get people interested in my book, find my own reviewers, invest in promotion services and other professionals to help me. Some of these things have paid off big time, others have not. It’s been trial and error for me the last few months but every day I’m learning more.
*disclaimer* Traditionally published authors also do a lot of their own marketing too so don’t think if you go that route you’ll be off the hook here.
- Creating the book
I’m not talking about the actual writing part here. This is everything you have to do to take your manuscript and turn it into a polished product people will want to buy. As a self-published authors I’m responsible for finding professionals to hire to help with editing, formatting, and cover design. A lot of time is involved here as you have to first find people, then vet their work to make sure it’s up to your standards, and then come to terms (contracts, scope of work, budget, timing). This part of the process is very much like running a business, which you are, and can be very intimating at times. I was very fortunate and found some amazing people to work with on Crystal and Flint but I have heard some horror stories from other authors. The moral of the story is to do your homework before you agree to pay anyone for a service. And yes, if you want to put out a professional product you are probably going to have to pay for at least some services.
- The Legal Stuff
Copy Right, ISBNs, Library of Congress registration, yep as an Indie Author all of that is on you too. This part is really just filling out a bunch of forms and paying the fees (yep more money), but it’s time consuming and can be intimidating if you aren’t use to reading legal language.
- Book signings and Events
If you want to do any kind of book signings or events as an Indie Author, then it’s on you to find them and set it all up. I’ve had some luck so far getting a spot at craft and vendor sales (for a fee) where I can sell books and talk to readers. Doing this had led to other speaking engagements (why yes I’d be happy to speak at our school, take my card with all my contact info on it) and even if you don’t sell anything it’s a great way to get your name out there.
- Online presence
Every author, indie or traditional, has to have an online author platform. This means I spend way more time on social media than I otherwise would. Connecting with readers and other writers is a huge part of the business of being an author. In addition to my own website, Facebook, twitter, and Instagram account I’m also part of several author/book groups where I try to have regular interaction to get my name and books out there.
Oh yeah and if I have the time I write books. Seriously though I’ve heard the best thing an Indie Author can do to boost sales of their current books is to publish their next one. One of the biggest pluses of being an Indie Author is that you can really publish as fast as you can write. I know a lot of Indie Authors who published several books every year. I’m not at that level yet, but I should be able to get the next two books in The Journey Missions series out by the end of the year.
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