Tuesday, January 26, 2016

On the Indy Front

I'm back, and also finally getting into the how of indy publishing. It's a lot more complicated and worrisome than I ever imagined. Everyone has different opinions on which is the best way to go, but facts are few and far between. I think I've gotten more info from comments left here at PBW than anywhere else, so let me thank everyone who has made recs in the past.

The cost involved with using a publishing service is a lot more than I expected. I'm often reminded of the old days of vanity print publishers, and how they used to swindle writers into paying way too much for print books that ended up sitting in boxes in their garages. My sister's father-in-law, who was a university professor, got scammed big time by those folks. Anyway, some of these service providers seem to be doing the same thing, only in electronic version.

Of course I'm cheap, too, but I was willing to invest a little fee-wise in my first title. I already have by commissioning the cover art. However, I don't think I should have to pay a thousand dollars to indy publish in e-book and print on demand. These providers tend to change their pricing and range of services whenever they like, and in most cases the fine print is pretty daunting. I am definitely not interested in giving any service a percentage of my sales, so that also eliminates most of them.

I'm back to the daunting reality that I have to figure out how to do all the publishing stuff myself. Fortunately there are authors who are sharing the wealth, like Bill Peschel, who offers a ton of indy publishing advice on his blog. For example, this post shows you how to create the best .pdf for publishing your book with CreateSpace, with step-by-step instructions along with screenshots (and when you do release that new book for career writers, Bill, you've got a sale right here.) Right now my plan is to write and indy publish a test run short story first under a new byline. That way I can screw it up without disappointing or pissing off my readers. Then, once I've got the procedure down, I'll move on to my own longer byline works. So that's where I am on the indy front.

In the meantime, for those who are interested in indy publishing via Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing, I found a simple tutorial here by author Graeme Shimmin on how to do it in (basically) three steps. Also, for those of you who are interested in designing your own covers but don't want to invest in a pricey photoshop program, Dereck Murphy's DIYBookCovers.com has a whole page of interesting free tutorials, templates and tools here that include showing you how to design cover art in MS Word.


  1. Thanks! I'm still putting the book together, bit by bit, around my other projects, but I'm glad you found it of some use.

    Let me recommend The Author Biz podcast, which interviews indie authors on their best practices. The guy had revamped his show and the last four or five episodes were jammed with detailed discussions of how they ran their businesses above and beyond "get a mailing list."

    And, yes, a thousand dollars to publish your TPB and ebook can be for the birds. It depends on how much you want them to do. For example, I could have gotten cover art from a well-known artist (at least in the true crime field) for $500. That was a reasonable figure from someone who has been in the business for 30+ years and was going to hand-draw and color the cover.

    So it depends entirely on the quality of the worker and what they're going to do for you. I have some skills with Photoshop, Word 2007 and PDF makers, so I can do most of my books for free. I leave ebook making to the pros (and I pay about $125 for each book for all platforms).

  2. Doing it yourself is all a learning curve, but it's worth it. I'm certainly nowhere near an expert on any of it, but if you ever have any questions, shoot me an email. Don't pay some huckster 'publishing service' $1000. Formatting an ebook for Kindle is easy-peasy and once you do that, going for a wider distribution thru Draft2Digital is also super easy - because they take your file and format it for each distribution outlet for you. The hardest thing for me was formatting for print, and I figured that out, too. (And I'm no genius.) The biggest expenses for me have been cover art and editing. And, of course, marketing. But you've already got a leg up with that last part because people know you and love you already.

    Ooo, I'm so excited for you. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help. :hugs:

  3. You're right, there are some scammy companies out there.

    Great minds think alike (as the cliche goes). When I first started indie publishing, I did two short stories under a pen name just to learn how to use Kindle Direct and Smashwords. The first I made "Free" just so people would "Buy" it and I'd get some feedback. By the time I got to my third pubbing effort I knew what I was doing.

    So, go for it and see what happens.

  4. You can do it! Kindle offers a PDF on how to format for the kindle. Smashwords, likewise. (I gave up on them when I sold two books - total - over one year.) I've heard good things about Draft2Digital, but haven't tried them yet. KU is doing fine for me.

    And formatting for print is EASY, once you know the tricks. And many of those tricks are in the Kindle PDF. The hardest part, for me, was getting the page numbering right.

    Feel free to shoot me an email if you need help. Between us all, we'll get you up and running. :-)

  5. Commenting as a reader. Please would you consider publishing on Smashwords. As someone who lives in the rest of the world, i.e. outside the U.S., Canada, U.K., etc, I've found Smashwords the most accessible and easiest to use. I've bought glitch-free from them for years. Companies like Amazon often block sales of e-books if you live outside the US, Canada, etc

  6. Thanks for this. Great info!

  7. I wish you so much luck with this.
    I'm not great with technology so going indie frightens me. Then again, I'm (primarily) a poet and therefore have an interesting time finding an audience made of more than just other poets.

  8. Hi, I'm glad my article was useful for you. I totally agree that you really don't need to pay people to do this stuff - Amazon make it very easy.

    By the way, if you want to self-publish a paperback too (much more satisfying than a Kindle book IMO) then I have an article explaining that too: http://graemeshimmin.com/self-publish-on-createspace/ Again this is all using Amazon's tools and costs nothing.

    Let me know how you get on! :-)

  9. When you're ready to create the eBook, let's chat. I use sigil, which is an open source and free epub editor that has both a code view and a WYSIWYG view. I can walk you through it and send you the style sheet that I use.

  10. I'm so glad and cant wait for you to play around with it. I wish you much success (partly selfish because I want to read more of your books) I also found this site helpful http://www.thecreativepenn.com/ Joanna Penn has a lot of information there but most of it can be sorted by blog posts. DIY can seem intimidating but gets easier. My editors and cover artists are all fantastic to work with. THANK YOU Lynn for being an inspiration for me before I took the leap to writing.

  11. We DIY'd it all. I think I paid $100 for cover art, but I had artist and cover idea in mind that she makes happen. I'm paying for some re editing, but formatting? all us. Createspace lets you at least buy in small lots. I think we've done all 4 of my books for well under 1k all together, so i would side-eye any service offering much less for more money.

    Vanity presses still invade all the book fairs here and the quality isn't really something special for the extra money but boy they sure love to create expensive 'packages" of services that aren't useful. I long for the day these people finally crawl back into the muckery and leave authors be.


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