I haven’t done an update to my experiences as an Indie Author in quite some time, so I thought now would be a great time to do one. What exactly is an Indie Author? There are a number of definitions of Indie Author, but this one is my favorite from the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi).
What is an Indie Author?
So what marks out an indie from other authors? The Alliance allows that you are an independent author if you:
- Have self-published at least one book.
- Recognise that ‘indie’ does not necessarily mean ‘self-publishing only’ and acknowledge that even the most indie-spirited self-publisher works in collaboration with other publishing professionals (editors, designers, distributors) to produce a good book and reach readers. You are open to mutual beneficial partnerships, including trade publishing deals where appropriate for you, so long as the author’s status as creative director of the book is acknowledged.
- Expect your status in the partnership to be reflected in contracts and terms, not just lip service.
- Recognise that you are central to a revolutionary shift in publishing which is moving from seeing the author as resource (in the new parlance ‘content provider’) to respecting the author as creative director.
- Are proud of your indie status, which you carry into all your ventures, negotiations and collaborations for your own benefit and to the benefit of all writers.
You can find the entire article about the definition here!
What have I learned?
What have I learned in the two-plus years of being an indie author? I’ve learned that writing The Gemstone Chronicles was the easiest part of the process. It’s a great feeling to get the words down on the page, finishing the story, and heaving a huge sigh of satisfaction. Below is the cover of Book One: The Carnelian, my first book!
Then the work began! The initial step is the editing and rewrites. After reading through the manuscript and correcting all the typos, grammar mistakes, misspelled words, and other errors that you can find, you send the manuscript off to your editor for honest (and sometimes painful) critique. It helps to have thick skin.
After going through the manuscript on your own, it’s time to get the manuscript professionally edited. I don’t think I can stress that enough. I was lucky in that I have a wonderful friend who did my editing and made such a huge difference in the finished product. I’ve seen some books (both Indie and traditionally published) that had grammar and spelling issues. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read snuck in the narrative. I understand you can use it as part of a character’s dialogue, but not in the narrative. Complected is another one of my pet grammar peeves, as in she was dark-complected. The term is complexioned, but I digress. My point is that a good editor will find things like the examples and point them out. I know that my editor used a red pen freely (and deservedly so) on my manuscripts!
Once the editor goes through the manuscript and corrections made, I have seen a couple of different techniques for a final proof of the manuscript. I personally like reading it through a couple of times. One of the most creative proofing ideas is to read the book aloud to see if it makes sense. I may try that technique in the future. I don’t think either method is better than the other and I’m certain there are hundreds more options, but it is a necessary step. Even the best editors can miss something or, if you are like me, typos can happen during the correction process.
Now, the manuscript is complete and its time to format it for ebooks, printing, or both. Of course, this assumes that the cover is complete, but if that isn’t done yet, I would once again recommend getting some professional help, but that is up to the you, the author. There are so many resources out there that are affordable options, but this in one area where the author can spend as much as he or she wants. Whatever route the author chooses, just make sure that the cover is done well.
Formatting services also abound on the web. However, at least for ebooks, there are great formatting guides available from Kindle and Smashwords. I like to format the manuscript for Smashwords first, simply because it is more comprehensive than Kindle. Once I have completed the Smashwords formatting, the Kindle formatting is easier for me.
For the print version of the book, I learned much from trial and error. I use Createspace to publish my print books. Word to the wise. Study other books of the same genre! Pay close attention to the page color (cream vs. white), fonts, the front matter, copyright page, and all those little details that make the print book look professional and appealing to the readers. It will save you a lot of time and frustration!
I’m not going to spend a lot of time in this post on marketing. It deserves a post of its own and I’ll do one soon! Suffice it to say that marketing the book(s) has proven to be the biggest challenge of all.
Most of us use social media of some sort. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, my blog, Goodreads, and LinkedIn. I recently signed up for Ello (though I haven’t used it much yet). I’ve joined groups on Facebook and Goodreads and interact in them. I think the groups are the greatest! They give me the opportunity to ask stupid questions, find new strategies, and foster relationships with other writers (both indie authors and traditionally published). I get to learn more about the writing process and business. Good stuff that I recommend all writers try!
So, that’s my update on what I have learned in the past couple of years as an indie author! I’ve enjoyed the journey thus far, and I’ve just started writing my fifth book (and the first that isn’t part of The Gemstone Chronicles). It has been an amazing experience and I have met some awesome people. The biggest thing I have learned is that there are tons of people willing to help. All you have to do is ask!
Are you thinking about writing? Have you written something but don’t know what to do next? Torn between sending out query letters and trying to find an agent and a traditional publisher or becoming an indie author and self-publishing? Leave me a comment and let me know! I would be happy to try to steer you toward some help if I can. I know there are folks that helped me and I would be willing to bet they would help you, too!