You’re probably wondering why a publisher is blogging about self-publishing… Well, that’s a good question! First, we are a niche publisher, and we understand that not every book will be the right fit for us, and sometimes, the book that isn’t right might be by one of our current authors. We hate when that happens, but it does, unfortunately. And in those instances, we wish the author all the best and support them as best we can in whatever path they choose to take.
Second, we have a lot of authors with us who are hybrids–authors who choose to publish in a variety of ways as opposed to just one. We welcome and support them.
Third, we are very author friendly here, and we never want an author to sign with us just because we offered a contract. We want them to be happy ! And so we like to help educate.
And finally, a lot of the items listed below also hold true for working with a publisher. Minus the whole paying for everything part. We pay you!
So, without further ado, here is author Kayla Bulster to talk about her experiences with Indie publishing.
There was a time when the phrase “self-published author” was somewhat taboo within the publishing community. However, with the emergence of online platforms that make it easy for authors to distribute their art quickly, indie publishing has become a viable option for many authors. Are you one of them?
Before we tackle this topic, let me tell you my personal experiences with indie publishing. My first novel, Wishful Thinking, was originally published through an online publisher. There was no marketing, nothing happened with it, so I took it back, fixed it up and published it through a free online platform that distributed to the major online stores and had a print option. But I broke a few cardinal rules within self-publishing. Are you ready to shake your head at me? Here it goes. I kept re-reading my novel and would re-edit, and then re-publish it. I probably did this three times. There. I said it. I finally just took it out of print – though I’m sure if you try hard enough, you can get all kinds of different versions of my novel. Ugh!
I did the research! I had a great novel! Where did I go so wrong!?
Well, first, although I did research, I disregarded some of the absolutes (I promise I will share them with you). Additionally, I underestimated some of the advice given and ended up dissatisfied with my own product. But enough about me. Let’s talk about you.
There are two main avenues for indie publishing: paying an indie publishing company or using a free service that links to online retailers. If we were to break down the novel development into steps, we would have writing, editing, designing, and then launch and marketing. With indie publishers, you pay the company to do most of this for you (to varying degrees and depending on how much you are willing to fork over). With free or cheap services, you do all of this yourself. I thought that I was business-savvy enough to do the second option (which turned out to be true); however, there were other publishing steps where I lacked. In an effort to save money, I skipped some essential steps.
So, step-by-step, here is what you will need to consider when, well, considering indie publishing:
(1) Writing- You have to have a good product.
You will need to find beta-readers who specialize in or have an affinity for your genre. They should be able to knowledgeably read your book and give unbiased feedback on its strengths and weaknesses. Have multiple rounds of this process where you mold your book into its best version of itself. One that hits the mark for your demographic. I am a young adult fiction author, but I am also a high school teacher, so I have a group of ninety or so guinea pigs who I interact with on a daily basis. And, trust me, teenagers are brutally honest. They work perfect for my demographic. Then, find professionals who specialize in your genre – other authors who write your genre or reviewers willing to beta read (sometimes they will do this for advance copies).
(2) Editing – You can’t be your own editor
And neither can your mom, your uncle, or your neighbor who used to be a copy editor. This is where I went wrong in the process. I thought that, as a copy editor and English major, I could self-edit. I also thought that, if I gave it to enough people to help me, we could collectively edit it without me needing to pay for someone to edit. Goodness was I horribly wrong! You will need to pay a decent editor to not only for content, but also for line and copy. This editor should be able to hack away dead weight in your book and also line edit for grammar, accuracy, and continuity.
(3) Designing – Throw out that metaphorical phrase about judging covers
Here is another step where you may have to pay a professional. As a computer teacher and multimedia designer, I was able to do my own cover. However, if you are not computer-savvy, or do not have an artistic bone in your body, you will have to pay a professional. When I doubted my own skills, I paid a professional family-friend. I also, at one time, had my brother (who is a professional graphic designer) put together a cover for me. The problem was, even though I paid for the work, I didn’t have the heart to tell them that I didn’t like it. I just went with it and figured I was being picky. Which was another mistake on my part. Unless you can tell that family-member that they will have to start over, I highly recommend paying for a professional (who has no familial connection to you whatsoever!).
(4) Launch and Marketing – Introversion is not an option
If you don’t have an active twitter, facebook, snapchat, instagram, website, etc, you may want to go the traditional route. Your best marketing will be through your social media contacts and online platform. One of the reasons self-publishing has become so lucrative is the emergence of the digital novel. The cheap accessibility to a plethora of content with the click of a button is the fuel that launched the indie publishing market. The problem is, it is a VERY saturated market. You will have to stand out. You do this through your contacts. It takes a lot of legwork, but you will need to get reviews, lots and lots of reviews, in order to get your novel off the ground. You will spend more hours emailing reviewers, tweeting about your novel, and blogging than you ever did writing the actual novel. If you aren’t willing to put yourself out there, Mr. Salinger, then you should probably go the traditional route.
Now, of course this is assuming you want to have a successful, well-known novel that reaches a wide audience. If your goal is just to get your writing out there and experience the thrill of seeing your work one click away from the masses, then disregard everything above (especially the part where I told you about my major flub of my first novel) and just go for it, friend!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
As a high school teacher, and young adult fiction enthusiast, Kayla Bulster strives to weave her “kids” stories into her novels. Her passion for her students compels her to develop realistic and relatable characters who experience genuine teen conflicts and issues. When she isn’t writing or teaching, you can find this self-proclaimed nerd acting in theater or films, painting, or country-line dancing. She lives with her husband and puggle in San Diego, California. You can follow Kayla on her website, Twitter, and Instagram.