Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Julie Musil & 5 Scary Things about Indie Publishing -- Plus Solutions to Calm Your Nerves

Please welcome the awesome Julie Musil to the blog today! Julie's latest book The Summer of Crossing Lines is out and about today. Can't wait to read it! Julie's first book The Boy Who Loved Fire is a great story with powerful characters. Today Julie's here to talk about...

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? 

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Apple     Kobo     Smashwords     Print

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?


  1. Though I'm not going the self-published route, this seems to be solid advice all around. Thanks for the tips, Julie, and best of luck with your latest release!

  2. Congratulations on book number two, Julie!
    Authors and bloggers are the nicest people. You'll find a lot of genuine, generous people here.
    Smart to hire a professional rather than kill your nerves or your career by doing it yourself.

  3. Yes, hire an editor! It's obvious if you don't. To the author who says he or she can't afford it, I say you can't afford not to.

  4. Great list - especially the point about hiring a professional editor, and doing that after going through several revisions on your own.
    Congratulations, Julie!

  5. Congratulations on the release of your book, Julie. These are great tips. You mentioned book covers and sadly book covers do matter. If a cover doesn't catch your attention at first glance, chances are you won't pick it up or click on a link to find out more about it. You definitely scored big on your covers, very catchy. Wishing you much success.

  6. Jeff - I agree! Julie's tips are great :

    Alex - yes! There are definitely times when it's worth hiring the expert :)

    Diane - totally agree! Worth every penny :)

    Beth - yes! Getting it mostly polished on your own is definitely best!

    Mason - covers really do matter!

  7. Jemi, thanks so much for letting me hang out on your blog!

    JeffO--Best of luck to you on your own publishing journey. Isn't it awesome how we now have choices?

    Alex--So true about authors and bloggers. And thankfully you've created a wonderful group for everyone to help and encourage each other!

    L. Diane--amen to that! The editing is the biggest chunk of my indie budget, but it's a crucial step.

    Beth--So true. Even when you think the manuscript is clean and ready for professional editing, it's worth it to clean it up MORE!

    Mason--thanks for the kind words about my covers. I've often set aside romance books because the covers were way over the top for me.

  8. This sounds like good advice to hire an editor and a professional cover design. Of course that adds to the writer's costs. I have 2 books traditionally published so the publisher shouldered that expense.

  9. Terra, that's a great reason to go traditional--if you don't want to shoulder any of the production costs. I pay for editing and cover design, and it's totally worth it.

  10. Julie - you can hang out any time!! :)

    Terra - yes, the costs can add up, so self pubbers have to be careful and wary :)

  11. I'm not going down the self-publishing route, but Julie does give good solid advise for those who will be in the future.

    Hi, Jemi :)

  12. Wendy, the beautiful thing is that now we have choices! Best of luck to you on your own journey :)

  13. Paying an editor is like travel insurance -- if you can't afford insurance, you can't afford to travel.
    Great tips, Julie. I read them all. I read so many e-books that haven't been edited enough. We need someone else to find the mistakes we can't see in our own work after editing it ourselves for so many passes.

    All the best for your e-books, Julie.
    Thanks for inviting Julie, Jemi.


  14. Denise--that's a great comparison! Hiring a great editor was essential to the process. Same with cover design. I actually format my own books because it's something I CAN do. Thanks for the good wishes :)

  15. Great tips and yes, not something to do after draft 2!!

  16. Wendy - Hi! It's so great that we have all these choices in front of us :)

    Denise - so true! We read what we think we wrote, not what we actually wrote :)

    Johanna - exactly!! A few more rounds first :)

  17. The cover is important :-) I love looking at book covers :-) Not that I wouldn't buy/read a book just because the cover is all wrong.

  18. A--I've read some great books with terrible covers, mostly because it was referred by my sister or a friend. But a nice cover sure does help!

  19. Agnes - you're right! Covers are important, but I can be convinced to look past them too :)

  20. Great advice, Julie!

  21. Thanks, Susanne! I appreciate you stopping by :)

  22. Great list and congrats to Julie. I enjoyed her first book and hope to read the second.

  23. Medeia, you are such a sweetheart! Thanks so much <3 <3

  24. Agreed Susanne! :)

    Medeia - me too! :)

  25. You're so right, Julie. I'm a writer, not a cover designer, not an editor. So why try to be everything you're not? Glad you laid all of this out.

    Hi Jemi!

  26. Hi Lee! It's so smart to hire out when we need too :)

  27. Lee, your books are edited so well and with professional covers. Stuff like that stands out in a crowded market!

  28. Julie's advice seems spot on to me. Definitely pointed out things that are scary, but the ways to solve them are perfect! It is amazing what a professional editor can do.

    Julie's latest book looks great. Love the cover. Wishing her the best of luck!

  29. I think the biggest thing keeping me from self publishing is #4. Having 100% of the marketing on my shoulders is overwhelming. Especially because I'm not a good salesman. Maybe someday I'll get there, but I'm not ready yet.

  30. Jess - I agree - knowing there's a way to solve the scary stuff really helps!

    Suzi - marketing is tough for a lot of writers - many of us are not go-getters!