Archive | August, 2011

22 Steps to Successfully Self-Publishing

28 Aug

There’s a lot to do and consider before Indie Publishing. A friend asked me for my advice and I decided to think it through for a few days and share it here as well.

I put this list together so my friend could make a decision and then start to prepare with as much information as possible. That doesn’t mean I’m blind to the costs. Yes, I had friends who edited. Yes, I have a friend in PR I could go to. Yes, I found a cover for cheap (although, if you follow my blog you know that I waited until I got a good cover. It actually held up publication. Don’t go live with a bad cover, an unedited product, or any other bad corners cut off to spite your face. Also, ignore any mixed-metaphors in this post.)

I worked under the assumption you did all the pre-work. You wrote a good book. You revised and edited and had beta readers and worked that thing until it was so shiny it blinded you. You’ve made a conscious decision to self-publish your book and you asked yourself the two important questions first. Everything on this lists comes after that.

So, here’s the list I came up with. I’m sure as I get further from my original pub date and closer to my next launch, I’ll find a few things to add to it. Right now, I feel pretty confident in handing this off.

Good Luck.

  1. Pay a full service editor. Even with a writing degree and copy editing cert, I want to have the security that it was done and done right. Courtney Milan really convinced me of this.
  2. Edit the book again. Yes, I know. You hired an editor. Some Indie Authors hire two…or three. Maybe you can’t afford that, but hiring at lease one is not the place to skimp. Now, do your writer thing and work through all those edits with your brain on.
  3. Research. Research your genre. Who are they? How are they tagging? Who is selling the most? Why are they selling? What do the best genre book covers look like? Do they blog? What do they blog about? How are they advertising? Don’t move to the next things on the list till you do the research.
  4. A cover. Start looking now. I actually do a run through of some sites to see if I can get another great deal. With the cover for It’s in His Kiss I was lucky to find a double sale for $22 – and I love it. The cover counts a lot.
  5. The Title: Check that the title works for the story, genre and readers. Make it catchy and memorable…If you’re anyone but me, make sure a really, really, really famous author with the same last name doesn’t have a book with the same title *head desk* And seriously, no one in the Invisible Posse picked it up either until I paid for the cover.
  6. Join groups. For example:
    1. Join Kindleboards. There’s a lot of good info and support there.
    2. Romance Divas and the Rom Indie yahoo group. I’m a lurker in both of these places but, they’re great for specific Rom stuff. Find some in your genre.
  7. Join reader forums. No, you’re not going to pimp your book, but you need to be out there where your genre fans are. It’s going to do several things: Keep you in the loop and get your name familiar.Remember, the needs of today’s readers can be filled more quickly by Indie Authors. (To add: If you aren’t a fan of your genre and there anyway for the fun stuff, maybe you’re writing the wrong thing.)
  8. Set up your Amazon author page and author central stuff so you’re ready to go.
  9. Tag your book on Amazon. These help people find your book based on their interests. I also ask people if they liked It’s in His Kiss to please hit the “Like” button at the top. I’ve been told (although I have no proof) this bumps you up the search ranks. Regardless, it is something I look at now – did people like the book enough to come back and hit that button?
    • UPDATE: If they like you as an author, tell them they can also “Like” you personally. If you click the author’s name on any of their book pages, it brings you to their Author Central homepage. Toward the top, right-hand corner is a “Like” button. We’ve been told that magic might happen when you hit certain numbers.
  10. Set up a Goodreads author account separate from your account. I can’t stress this enough. I estimate that about 70% of my sales come from GR reviews and recommendations.
  11. Start blogging and tweeting about it 3 months in advance (during edits) just like you would a trad book deal and share the ride to publication and launch date with your readers. But remember, only talking about your book is boring, rude and exhausting. If you have nothing else to say, maybe just avoid social media.
  12. Write an actual promo plan.
    1. Are you going to advertise? If so, where?
    2. Does your blurb stand alone? Is it well-edited?
    3. Do you have a promo timeline?
  13. Set up a blog tour. Note this isn’t part of the promo plan. Yes, you’ll work it into the plan, but this is a must.
  14. Send out ARCs for review – This is scary, but I’ll definitely do it next time. I had a few reviewers write-up It’s in His Kiss just because. They were so encouraging and I know for a fact their readers tried me because of their reviews.
  15. Giveaways: There are two types of giveaways.
    1. From You: If you have a following, these will go wonderfully. You’re tribe will be looking forward to getting their hands on your book. Do some the week before it comes out and the two weeks after that.
    2. From Others: It wouldn’t hurt to offer free copies to a few places that review or discuss books as reader giveaways. They’ll reach people you’d never be able to on your own.
  16. Schedule your Business Hours. When will you be online networking and marketing? If it’s written down, you’re more likely to do it. Also, you’re more likely to limit yourself to that instead of getting sucked into the *refresh* addiction.
  17. Barter, Beg, Steal… Okay, don’t steal. But, use your resources.

A.  Formatting: This was hard. I stunk at it. On top of that, the wrong version accidentally got uploaded.

If I didn’t have two friends who are gifted come along side me and fix my mess and explain stuff to me, I’d be in a boatload of trouble – One reader told me later (when I mentioned I was having a corrected version uploaded) that she saw the format mess, but was pulled into the story so much that she forgot about it and never let me know.

This was incredibly flattering, but I know the only reason I got away with that was it was a short.

Do not skimp on formatting. Period. It’s the difference between a new reader for life and someone who doesn’t trust you to put out a quality product.

Also, where are you going to publish? I’m currently only on Amazon, but the second check is earmarked for formatting for Smashwords and BN.

B.  Proofing: Yes, even after you pay for an editor the book still needs to be proofed.  At a minimum, find someone you trust to mark it up even as a “finished product” and you’ll be golden. A nice Starbucks card goes a long way here.

  1. Get a cover quote or two. No seriously. If you have the connections or (the you-know-what that rhymes with falls) contact another writer to see if she’d give you one. Who are the successful Indie Authors in your genre?
  2. Set up your budget: How much are you willing to pay total? How much are you willing to pay for each thing? Are you going to do advertising? Where does it work the best (hint: check Kindleboards for this type of data)
  3. Set up a tracking system. I’ll be blogging about this later. But, do not go live without someway to track your expenses and income.

This is a business. Treat it seriously.

  1. Send an email to friends saying how excited you are about this. Share that you’re nervous about doing it without the support of a publisher and that their support has been invaluable. I gave my Invisible Posse each a copy. I know what you’re saying, this costs me money and gets me nothing – Dude, say thank you. Always say thank you.
  2. I’m working on a blog called How To Love Your Indie Friend… because the support needed is more moral. People don’t know how to help and support you if you don’t tell them.

The best advice I can give you: DO NOT RUSH. I know, I know. You can’t wait to get it out there in the world. But do it right and give it the wings it needs to really knock it out of the park (remember, we’re not mocking mixed metaphors today) – So, go forth and be successful.



Back to the Adventure

16 Aug

I’ve been good about posting my weekly numbers…but beyond that, what happened to the adventure?

The adventure lives on.

I’m still learning a lot about indie-publishing. A friend last night pointed me to a blog where the writer went OFF on self-publishers who called themselves “indie” saying we had bastardized (her words) the meaning of the word and basically just a long ranty post meant to put indie (yeah, I said it) writers in their place…and to educate all those poor, poor consumers about why self-publishers are not indie and warn them of the evil that…ok, I’ll stop. The word “evil” may not have actually been used.

What followed was a great discussion (ok, maybe more of me soapboxing) about publishing’s history (dude, it didn’t just start a couple decades ago) and indie music/film tie-ins and the ever changing structure of any industry and how we do not live in the same publishing world we did a decade ago… heck, we don’t live in the same publishing world we did two years ago, or even six months.

We live in a Darwinistic world. Adapt or die.

 Self-publishing is not only here to stay, but it’s becoming more and more viable an option… if done right.

I know people who put more work, editing, copyediting, money, and cover-content focus into their indie book than some mid-list traditional authors get (or do themselves)… Want to hear a dirty little secret?

I’ve had several traditionally published authors admit that they have gotten zero content editing and almost no (if any) copyediting. All of them were at two major houses.

Those gatekeepers? Those ones we’re supposed to trust to turn out great products? It’s becoming more and more commonly known that they can’t always be relied on. I’m not saying ALL publishers or editors. But let’s be honest, some of them.

The responsibility lies with the indie-pubs. We’re going to have to continue to build the indie reputation until the label doesn’t matter. Until all that matters is the product.

So, when trying to stop judging a book by its cover, maybe stop judging it by its source too.

With all these changes in the publishing world, which one do you think is going to shape your world more?

I’d love to know!


Things I’ve Been Wanting To Say

14 Aug

So, there’s been a few things I’ve been wanting to say lately. But, I’ve been holding my tongue. Force of habit.

Then I remembered part of this indie adventure was to tell others about it. So here, with no specifics, are some things I’ve been wanting to say.

Every time you say “anyone who has or wants an agent is an idiot” you are saying I, Caitie, am  an idiot. *glances at IQ test* Ok, not to sound snotty, but that test says I’m definitely not an idiot. My business experience and education are pretty hardcore too.

So, I know I’m not an idiot…and yet, I find your words personally insulting, especially when they’re said directly after my post about my agent. 1+1 isn’t going to magically equal 7 if I call you on it.

What if I said this in return: You DON’T want an agent? Why not? Afraid you can’t get one? Dude, you’re totally an idiot for not chasing every option in publication possible.  Not everything I write would be great to publish indie. Some of it needs to go under the other name to be successful. Needs to go through my agent to certain publishers.

Yes, I COULD publish it here. But smart isn’t bull-headed. Smart does what is best for that book.

Remember, sometimes it’s best to just be right in your own head.

Speaking of smart not being bull-headed, if someone gives you advice from loads of experience. Don’t argue with them.

If you don’t agree with them, fine. Do it your way. Ignore the years of experience. You may be right. There is always that chance. But, don’t argue with them. That persons went out of the way to give you knowledge they got the hard way. They’re trying to be helpful. When you try to be helpful and someone with far less experience/knowledge argues with you and publicly tells you how wrong or “stupid” that is… you’re making you look bad.

One of the last people you ever want to make look bad is you.

We talked about this already on the How To Lose Readers Before You’re Even Published post, but being gracious goes a long way… being rude goes even further. Just not in the direction you want.

And, there be our rant for the weekend. Aaaarrr (no idea what’s up with the pirate thing today)

Feel free to argue with me 😉


Self-Publishing Numbers: Week 7… kind of

14 Aug

This is where I typically give you the numbers for the previous week and tell you about anything fun that happened.

This  week I tell you the not so fun thing that happened. Wednesday night Amazon stopped reporting sales numbers. My rank still rose and fell. I spent some time in the teens again. It was obvious sales were happening.

The numbers for this week have not been fully updated. I had a three-hour period where a couple sales came in, and then back to a moving sales rank but no sales data. And so, with no sales data, this is what we have for now:

Day 1:  10 (1 day)
Week 1:    9
Week 2:  15
Week 3:  15
Week 4:  17
Week 5:  15
Week 6:  10
Week 7:   9

I’m estimating just from the movement I’ve seen that Amazon owes my count somewhere between 4 and 7 additional sales. We’ll see what happens. The people over on the kindleboards say this isn’t a first. I am getting the vibe that it’s never lasted this long before though.

Here’s hoping for the best!

Feel free to post your numbers in the comments!


Self-Publishing: Week 6

7 Aug

We’re into the first week of August now. Here it is:

Day 1:  10 (1 day)
Week 1:  9
Week 2:  15
Week 3:  15
Week 4:  17
Week 5:   15
Week 6: 10

The summer slump has finally hit me. Oddly, the number of people who marked me TBR on Goodreads jumped. So it isn’t that interest has died completely. The vetrans on KindleBoards have said time and time again that July and August were the driest months. I guess I thought my good track record would carry me through.

Not so much. So, how did you do?

Feel free to post your numbers in the comments!


Contributing at Author Rescue

4 Aug

Today is my first contributor post at Author Rescue. I’m talking about why I went indie. Come check it out.