Next week, the 4th book of my Grime Fighter Mystery Novella Series will release from Amazon and I’ve finally gotten my mind wrapped around this process of independent publishing.
I’m not talking about the “self-publishing” of a decade ago. Back then, someone paid a company to print their books. They might end up with a garage full to sell, but their book was in print earning them the title of author, though those who began that way seldom considered writing to be their career.
While indie publishing does bypass the traditional route to publication, both the good and the bad of that path, it is made up of serious authors, dedicated to learning and perfecting their craft. And those who do, go through some of the same steps to their publication.
Step One: Write – just like any author.
- A plot the moves
- Fully-fleshed out characters
- Conflict on every page
- A satisfying end with sacrifice, justice, redemption, or something similar.
(You know the drill!)
Step Two: Revise/Rewrite – yes, you need it. If you don’t have trusted critique partners who will ask the hard “why” questions and tell you things like “you can do better,” get some! You’ll learn so much more with another author’s eyes on your story! And your book will be better for their input.
Step Three: Edit – most indie authors I know have an outside editor/proofreader making their story as clean as possible. I do, but she gets my fourth draft, after I’ve written, revised, edited on my own, and read the entire manuscript aloud. (Boy, do I catch things when I do that!)
Step Four: Add extra elements – Bio, Table of Contents, Discussion Questions, Acknowledgements, Dedication, and any number of other pages that authors like to include. This is the chance to tell your story as well as the book’s story! Take every advantage. Oh, and be sure to create a link somewhere to your Amazon author page (get one if you don’t have it!), your Facebook or Twitter (or other social media), and your website. (This is where I am with Grime Family!)
Step Five: Format – use the Amazon (KDP) tool to help set this up. The tool will even show what the book will look like in several forms (Kindle, iPad, Android phone). Make adjustments and reload until the book looks exactly as you want it to.
Step Six: Cover – a lot of indie authors hire this step out. Having an amateurish cover is a sure way to rob yourself of sales. That doesn’t mean that all self-created covers are amateurish, however. My friend, Jackie Castle, has done a fabulous job with her White Road Chronicles. And I think my Grime Fighter covers are pretty good, too. Choosing a title comes into this step, though. I have an opinion there: Name the book according to the story. Don’t listen to the marketing/promotion gurus who’ll tell you to use key words in your title. Sure, if you’re only wanting to sell one book, or hacking out dribble in order to fleece as many buyers as possible, fine. But if you’re serious about writing, sincere about your career, select a title that works for your story.
Step Seven: Consider the options – to publish on KDP you’ll need to identify your book with a couple of categories, and create seven different words or phrases that will be keywords for your book. A unique setting, character occupation, or theme can make great key words. Also genre words work. As to that, using keywords on your cover (as a subtitle or part of a series title) might help people find you easier. (Although, I noticed only a little difference from before I added “Mystery Novella” to my Grime Fighter Series.) You have a few other choices as you publish on KDP. KDP Select means that people who have Kindle Unlimited can download your book from a “Library.” For every page they read, you get paid. That can be lucrative, but it is a 90-day commitment and gives Amazon exclusive rights to the distribution. That even means offering free copies to folks. Big No-No if you choose this option. Also, you need to set a price for your book. Be careful not to price yourself out of your market. And boy, is that easy to do!
Of course publishing is only the beginning. There are also all the marketing and promotional tasks to accomplish – without cramming your book down the throats of your friends and family. That’s tricky and can be expensive. And it’s also an article for another time.