Publishing is an ocean. And its ever-changing tides and currents can be frightening. So what are some rules for “swimming” in this indie ocean? I looked at some water safety rules to see how they might apply.
1. Swim at your own risk. No one else will be responsible for accidents or injuries.
In indie publishing you have total control of your work. You also have total responsibility. And reap your own rewards.
For me, it was having six manuscripts with my editor when the Heartsong Presents line closed. They were written to fit the HP guidelines, and a couple of them had already been near misses with traditional publishers. So my choices were to (a) lengthen them beyond what I felt I could do without diluting the stories, (b) let them molder on my hard drive, or (c) publish them myself.
2. Avoid diving headfirst into shallow or murky water of uncertain depth. You may find yourself in too deep.
I’m a timid soul. Rather than plunge, I decided to stick my toe in and test the waters. I had a four book series and a two book duo. I chose the smaller risk.
Back when I first began to consider going indie, I signed up for the January Seekerville class, Amazon KDP for Beginners, by Rogenna Brewer. Then I took some more classes. I printed all the handouts and put them in a binder. When I made the decision to go indie/hybrid, I got out that manual and read through it again. I still refer to it when I run into questions. If I don’t find the answers, I contact a friend.
3. Obey all pool rules.
There may be some tough requirements (undertows). Be aware of current movement. Change is ever constant.When preparing a manuscript for traditional publisher submissions, you need to follow publisher guidelines—genre, word length, etc. There are rules in indie publishing as well.
COVERS: You must have covers that fit specifications. I decided I couldn’t do a professional enough cover, so I went looking for cover designers. When I contacted Rogenna Brewer, she immediately grasped what I wanted, and her prices were a little more attractive than the other designer I was considering. It only took a few days for her (with my input) to come up with a pair of covers that I really like. You can find samples of her work, ordering and pricing information at her site.
EDITING: You need to have your books edited. Which I had done, but I knew they needed fresh eyes. Ruthie recommended an editor (her daughter) and gave me her email address. I contacted Beth Jamison, and she did both manuscripts at a very reasonable price.
FORMATTING: You have to format your books to meet specifications. I decided I could learn to do that. So I went to my manual and pulled out instructions for both digital and print formatting. I also went to the Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon’s digital publisher) and CreateSpace (Amazon’s print publisher) sites and printed the instructions provided there. Then I went to work—and got both manuscripts done, except for a couple of elusive glitches. I went to Springfield and met with author Carol Moncado for a tutoring session, and she guided me through the uploading of both these books.
If I can learn it, you certainly can!
4. Never swim alone. Swim with a buddy.
Join groups, like CIA (Christian Indie Authors), a private Facebook group for Christian indie and hybrid authors who are focused on providing resources and discussions for Christian indie book production, publishing, and promotion. Attend conferences. The only one I regularly attend is ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), but I know a number of Seekers and Villagers attend RWA (Romance Writers of America). The workshops are great, but being able to network with other writers, editors and publishers is invaluable.
Find a mentor or critique partner, someone who can encourage you, pick apart your work, and make you a better writer.
5. Dive only in designated areas.
Choose where you will publish. Amazon’s KDP and CreateSpace are popular, but there are others, and they require different formats.
Smashwords is a distributor of indie/self-published ebooks. They distribute to online retailers such as the Apple iBookstore (51 countries), Barnes & Noble, Sony, Diesel, Kobo (multiple countries), Flipkart (India’s largest online bookseller), Oyster,Scribd, Baker & Taylor (the Blio platform and Axis360 library service), Page Foundry and many others. If, like me, you shudder at the idea of formatting and sending to all those places, you might going to the Smashwords site and reading about them.
Be prepared to keep learning.
6. Watch out for sharks.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of scams out there.
When you set out to publish your own work, be careful who you hire for services. Watch for those who advertise support and instruction to authors, and then include fees. Or ones who try to tie up your rights so you can’t publish the book elsewhere. Or make you pay for formatting and then not release the files to you unless you pay a further fee. These people are pitching for business, not offering a publishing contract. Legitimate publishers don’t operate that way. You might find this Publishers Weekly article helpful.
HOW AM I DOING?
The jury is still out. I’m treading water, dog paddling, hoping I can learn to float. I’ve got this two book series out. Whether I continue with more will depend on whether these two swim or drown.
If you are considering a plunge into the Indie Ocean, you can download Mark Coker’s The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success FREE.
Is this the route for you? What are your reasons for going indie?
As a giveaway I’m making Bandit Bride free for download today and tomorrow to launch my big dive into the deep end of the pool. Help yourself. If you enjoy it, go ahead and play life saver and write a review. I’d appreciate it!
Bandit Bride is available FREE today and tomorrow.
She's Robin Hood of the Prairie. He's a Texas Ranger. Can they possibly be a duo?
Having lost her parents, and in danger of losing her ranch to an unscrupulous opportunist, Jackie (Jacinda) Laughton is surviving in Dodge City's heyday, but not without a load of guilt and estrangement from God and the church. In desperation she and her best friend have resorted to banditry. Donning disguises, they are the popular "Whip and Blade" who hold up the lender's stagecoach runs, keeping the money they need and distributing the rest to more of the man's victims. No one suspects they are young women.
When Hoyt Travers, a Texas Ranger, arrives in Dodge and shows an interest in her, Jackie finds herself drawn to him, but wary of the danger he represents. He learns the truth and offers to marry her to protect her, but can she accept such a sacrifice and hide her love that might never be returned? She must learn to accept God's forgiveness and trust God for her needs.
Prairie Bride is set to release tomorrow.
Bryn Farrell grew up during Dodge City's heyday as a cattle town. Rudderless since her fiancé's death, she crashes into Ty Shelton, an old nemesis from school, as he is racing to the last of the big fires of 1885 with a bucket of water. She is drenched with freezing water, but her spirit is not quenched, and she returns to help fight the fire.
Practical and reserved, Ty is a wheat farmer who takes care of his widowed mother and younger brother. When he rescues Bryn from the first blizzard of the big "die-up" of 1886 and must take her home with him, he is trapped in more ways than just the storm. He does not need the disruption of flighty Bryn Farrell in his life. But forced proximity during the storm forces him to have just that--and new feelings for her begin to change, as does his perspective of her.
Can Bryn fall in love with a farmer and live a life of housework and washing dishes? Can Ty love the lively prairie girl who has intrigued him for years, but is his opposite?
Helen Brown grew up in a small Missouri town and became Helen Gray when she married her pastor. They have three grown children. If her writing in even a small way touches others, she considers it a blessing and thanks God for the opportunity.