By Rebecca Forster
For 26 years I was a crazed, angst-riddled traditionally published author. Deadlines loomed. Editors lay in wait to knock me down a peg. Agents doled out favor based on the size of advances. Checks arrived later than I had counted on. If my books were all over the bookstore I worried; if they weren’t I worried. Still, I had no idea what tired and cranky really was until now. Which brings me to the topic of the day: E-publishing and the joy of 24/7 E-xhaustion.
I decided to try E-publishing because I had hit a bump in the publishing road. New York was tightening up, I had parted ways with my agent and the project I was working on hadn’t captured an editor’s imagination (more on that later). So, I published one of my 23 books out of curiosity, boredom, and a niggling idea that if I didn’t I would be missing something big. Little did I know, I was dipping my toe into a roiling sea that was indie publishing and would soon be drowning in challenges and opportunities.
After publishing all my early work, I ended up with four books on the Kindle legal thriller bestseller list and stayed there. Then I published Before Her Eyes, a novel I believed in but one which had received conflicting and cool rejections. It was scary, publishing without New York’s stamp of approval. Multiple five star reviews later I felt sure my creative gut was working just fine.*
It took a year and a half of nonstop work to properly post 18 books (I decided against publishing some of my very early books). And, as happens in any new venture, the more I learned the more overwhelming the task of taming E-publishing seemed.
Amazon is not alone in offering indie publishing opportunities. There is Pubit! (indie authors outlet on Barnes & Noble) and independent e-publishers like Smashwords.com. There is the Apple bookstore and don’t forget Google books. There are backlist purveyors and indie author sites that allow click through to your sales sites. An author must have a manuscript and a cover (to the correct format and pixel proportions), reversion letters if you are posting your backlist, an understanding of DRM, a sense of what price the market will bear. Add to that, the fact that you and you alone are responsible for all marketing worldwide. Suddenly you are working 24/7, first to get noticed and then to grow your fan base and sales.
So, do you want to keep your sanity and your marriage intact? Authors, read on for a few ideas to keep from being E-xhausted (but E-xhilarated) as you enter the world of E-publishing.**
· Pace yourself and publish on one site at a time until it is done correctly.
· Spend more time editing than writing. Scanning or editorial problems are the kiss of death in indie publishing.
· Smashwords.com formatting guidelines are excellent. Follow them to the letter.
· Use PowerPoint (portrait design) to design your covers
· Join author and reader discussions and become a part of the group, not just an advertiser.
· Educate yourself to marketing opportunities (Independentauthor.org, etc.)
· Make friends with bloggers who want to interview authors.
· Return the favor on your own blog.
· If you find yourself doing marketing chores more hours than you are writing or talking to your family, stop. Take the weekends off.
· Check your sales figures once a week. Every hour or day will make you crazy.
· If you make a list (top 100 Amazon, B&N bestsellers) let people know.
· Twitter and Face book but don’t spam with book ads.
· Don’t be discouraged. The new indie universe is huge. It will take people a while to find you. When they do, they will love you if you have published a professional, exciting product.
And Readers, we love your help as we navigate this brave new publishing world:
· If you see typos, please let us know privately. We will fix them immediately, will love you for being kind and will probably send you another book for free.
· If you like our work, please review on sites you frequent
· If you don’t like our work, please review with constructive criticism. We will take it to heart.
· Thank you for letting us present our work to you.
Now, everybody get some rest. Tomorrow authors will write and publish, readers will wade through a zillion new books. We’ll all intersect at some point, make new friends, discuss books, writing and reading. It is going to be a busy day.
*Before Her Eyes has been very well received (check out Amazon reviews). If any editor who turned it down would like to take another look, I’m happy to gift them an E-copy or send the manuscript!
**If you live near Lee’s Summit, Missouri I’ll be there September 3 conducting an intensive one-day E-publishing seminar.