5 Scary Things About Indie Publishing--Plus Solutions to Calm Your Nerves
The idea of indie publishing can be overwhelming--even scary. Believe me, I’ve been scared as heck since I took the leap and published The Summer of Crossing Lines and The Boy Who Loved Fire. But sometimes the scariest road is the one we must travel. I’ll share five scary things about indie publishing and what we can do to calm our nerves.
Scariest Thing #1--Quality Writing
What if my books aren’t good enough? What if they’re best left on the hard drive? We all worry about that, right? Readers deserve the best we can give them.
Calm your nerves by...hiring a professional editor
Don’t do this after draft two. You’ll waste time and money. My books had been through several rounds of my own editing. Then through beta readers. Then edited again and again and again. I also cut the word fat, using tips from craft books such as The Word-Loss Diet by Rayne Hall. If you’re paying per page, why pay for fatty words that shouldn’t be there?
After paring down the manuscript, I hired Bethany from A Little Red, Inc. to edit both books. She was fabulous. More on hiring a freelance editor here. It’s definitely an investment, but totally worth it.
Scariest Thing #2--Book Cover
Confession: I do judge a book by its cover. Fair? Probably not. But it’s something I consider when deciding what to read. Cool covers are important to me.
Calm your nerves by...hiring a professional cover designer
Sure, writers can create their own covers using a laptop and nifty software, but I didn’t want to skimp on this. The cover is a reader’s first impression of your book. I hired designer J. Allen Fielder, who does amazing work for a fair price. More on working with a cover designer here.
Scariest Thing #3--Formatting
Early ebooks were fraught with wonky fonts and spacing, which frustrated readers and helped give indie publishing a bad name.
Calm your nerves by...hiring a formatter or learning to do it yourself
Many authors hire formatters and swear by them. There are plenty of affordable resources listed on the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog and Susan Kaye Quinn’s blog.
I’m a serial do-it-yourselfer and chose to do my own formatting. I’m so glad I did. If I want to make changes--even if it’s just centering text or changing one word--it’s easy to do. Begin with the Smashwords’ Style Guide (it’s free!). Most guides are created for Word, but if you use Apple Pages, the ebook From Pages ’09 to Kindle Format in Minutes ($.99) will come in handy.
Scariest Thing #4--Getting Noticed
It’s crowded out there, and I don’t have the loudest voice. I’m not a salesperson and I’m definitely not a marketing pro.
Calm your nerves by...reaching out to people you’ve connected with
When it came time to spread the word about my books, I asked friends (like Jemi!) if I could spend a little time on their blogs, offering value to their readers. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no? We’re writers. We should be used to the word No. (By the way, no one said no. Writers are such nice people). I also mention news on my Facebook Author Page, on Twitter, and on my own blog. Not constant noise, just sharing information.
Other writers hire marketing teams, but I haven’t tried that. The good thing about indie publishing is that you can experiment and find what works for you.
Scariest Thing #5--Failure
We all fear failure...newbies and professionals in all walks of life.
Calm your nerves by...accepting that failure is part of the process
Don’t give up. Keep learning, keep improving, and keep trying. That’s the beauty of indie publishing. If you try something that doesn’t work, you can try something new. There isn’t a publisher breathing down your back, demanding results. You’re free to chill out and have fun with it.
Have you indie published? Did my five scariest things mirror yours? Any questions you’d like answered? Any tips you’d like to share?
Julie Musil writes from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go. Her Young Adult novels, The Summer of Crossing Lines and The Boy Who Loved Fire, are available now. For more information, or to stop by an say Hi, please visit Julie on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
When her protective older brother disappears, sixteen-year-old Melody loses control of her orderly life. Her stuttering flares up, her parents are shrouded in a grief-induced fog, and she clings to the last shreds of her confidence.
The only lead to her brother’s disappearance is a 30-second call from his cell phone to Rex, the leader of a crime ring. Frustrated by a slow investigation with too many obstacles, and desperate to mend her broken family, Melody crosses the line from wallflower to amateur spy. She infiltrates Rex’s group and is partnered with Drew, a handsome pickpocket whose kindness doesn’t fit her perception of a criminal. He doesn’t need to steal her heart—she hands it to him.
With each law Melody breaks, details of her brother’s secret life emerge until she’s on the cusp of finding him. But at what point does truth justify the crime?
Thanks Julie! Those are great solutions for anyone interested in indie publishing! I won a 5 page edit from Bethany and would totally second your recommendation. She was fabulous!!
How about you? Any tips to add to Julie's list? Does self-publishing intrigue or terrify you?