6/28/2013

Confessions of the Indie Writer

So, you want to get your novel published.  Ten years ago, it was a daunting process.  You needed an agent, and a publisher willing to take a chance on a new author.  Both were hard to find. Today, with the rise of Create Space, Lulu, and Lightning Source et al, you can get your book in the hands of readers at the click of your mouse. The indie writer does it all—writer, publisher, and marketing pro.  POD has forever changed the publishing model.  While traditional publishers are struggling to make a profit, indie writers are on the move, and getting noticed.

 I went indie a little over a year ago.  The journey started about four years earlier when I finished my first mystery novel.  My very first query letter to a publisher was accepted.  Excited, I emailed the manuscript and sat back to wait.  I was given regular progress reports by the acquisitions editor, and was on pins and needles when Family Matters made the third and final round. An august group of editors would decide my fate.  Sadly, it didn't meet their “list.”  But, they wanted my next book.  And so I wrote two more mystery novels.  Each one made it to the third and final round, but for one reason or another they didn't pick it up.  However, they always wanted my next book.  That’s when I went indie.

I’d already been writing magazine articles and actually receiving checks in the mail for them, so I was confident my writing was saleable.  I turned to Create Space and haven’t looked back.  By no means have I arrived, and the hard work to excel in the craft, and to market books continues.  It’s a long, difficult process to get your name out there and sell books to people you don’t know.  If you’re expecting quick returns, the New York bestseller list, or a traditional publisher knocking at your door begging you to write for them, please don’t attempt this at home.
 
It’s hard to get noticed when indie authors are everywhere.  Not that it was easy before, but there are crowds of new authors vying for the reader's attention.  If you’re going indie, here are a few things I've picked up that may help you.

1.  Decide whether writing is a hobby or career.  This decision is huge.  Will you be happy holding your book in your hands and passing them out as Christmas gifts or do you want to make money?  It’s two entirely different paths. Neither is wrong—just very different.

2. Write every day.  Writing is a craft and a discipline.  Good intentions don’t get words on paper or on a computer screen.  Practice. Practice. Practice. It's sort of like those scales your piano teacher assigned every week.

3.  Get third party feedback about your writing.  Take a writing class at a local college or join a writers group in your area.  You need people who will tell you where your strengths and weaknesses are. Be brave. 

4.  Look for other writing gigs.  Write for the local newspaper or your company’s newsletter. Submit articles to magazines.  These types of writing jobs will sharpen your skills and build your confidence.  Start a blog.  Make it about something you’re passionate about.  Be consistent.  Give your readers new content on a regular basis, at least once a week.

 5.  If want to make money from your writing, you need to build an author platform.  Get familiar with social media—Face Book, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all the rest. There are so many free publicity avenues, it’s overwhelming. Go one step at a time, and see what you can manage well. The Internet is a candy store full of social media tools and opportunities.  Many are free, which is a wonderful deal. Another recommendation is to attend a writers conference.  That's on my list for next year. Writing is a business on this track, so treat it as such.

6.   Since the writer is his or her own marketing department, learn to write book descriptions that sell books.  Practice writing press releases and put your bio together.  Take a look at authors on Amazon and get some ideas about how to do right.

7. Develop a thick hide and persevere.  Not everyone will love you.  That’s okay.  Take criticism in stride, find the truth in the critique, and use it to write better.  You may avoid a publisher’s rejection going indie, but you won’t avoid readers’ rejections. Writing is not for the faint of heart.

8. Your book should go through the same process that a traditionally published book does.  Deliver a quality product, from the cover to the last page. You want repeat readers. Pull together a team that includes savvy beta readers, a professional editor, and develop a marketing plan.  
   
 Publishing a book on your own is a bit like giving birth.  It’s a painful process and you’ll wonder why you ever thought being a published author was a good idea. I can tell you it is fun to hold your own book. It’s also gratifying to get a note from someone you don’t know, who enjoyed your book. You can see by the covers here, book production is growing. An inspirational novel, then a devotional, and now the mystery series has launched.

No, I’m not getting rich anytime soon. I need my day job…sigh. But, I’m currently living the dream. Seeing someone on an airplane with my book---that’s sweet!

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Positively encouraging

6/28/2013

Confessions of the Indie Writer

So, you want to get your novel published.  Ten years ago, it was a daunting process.  You needed an agent, and a publisher willing to take a chance on a new author.  Both were hard to find. Today, with the rise of Create Space, Lulu, and Lightning Source et al, you can get your book in the hands of readers at the click of your mouse. The indie writer does it all—writer, publisher, and marketing pro.  POD has forever changed the publishing model.  While traditional publishers are struggling to make a profit, indie writers are on the move, and getting noticed.

 I went indie a little over a year ago.  The journey started about four years earlier when I finished my first mystery novel.  My very first query letter to a publisher was accepted.  Excited, I emailed the manuscript and sat back to wait.  I was given regular progress reports by the acquisitions editor, and was on pins and needles when Family Matters made the third and final round. An august group of editors would decide my fate.  Sadly, it didn't meet their “list.”  But, they wanted my next book.  And so I wrote two more mystery novels.  Each one made it to the third and final round, but for one reason or another they didn't pick it up.  However, they always wanted my next book.  That’s when I went indie.

I’d already been writing magazine articles and actually receiving checks in the mail for them, so I was confident my writing was saleable.  I turned to Create Space and haven’t looked back.  By no means have I arrived, and the hard work to excel in the craft, and to market books continues.  It’s a long, difficult process to get your name out there and sell books to people you don’t know.  If you’re expecting quick returns, the New York bestseller list, or a traditional publisher knocking at your door begging you to write for them, please don’t attempt this at home.
 
It’s hard to get noticed when indie authors are everywhere.  Not that it was easy before, but there are crowds of new authors vying for the reader's attention.  If you’re going indie, here are a few things I've picked up that may help you.

1.  Decide whether writing is a hobby or career.  This decision is huge.  Will you be happy holding your book in your hands and passing them out as Christmas gifts or do you want to make money?  It’s two entirely different paths. Neither is wrong—just very different.

2. Write every day.  Writing is a craft and a discipline.  Good intentions don’t get words on paper or on a computer screen.  Practice. Practice. Practice. It's sort of like those scales your piano teacher assigned every week.

3.  Get third party feedback about your writing.  Take a writing class at a local college or join a writers group in your area.  You need people who will tell you where your strengths and weaknesses are. Be brave. 

4.  Look for other writing gigs.  Write for the local newspaper or your company’s newsletter. Submit articles to magazines.  These types of writing jobs will sharpen your skills and build your confidence.  Start a blog.  Make it about something you’re passionate about.  Be consistent.  Give your readers new content on a regular basis, at least once a week.

 5.  If want to make money from your writing, you need to build an author platform.  Get familiar with social media—Face Book, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all the rest. There are so many free publicity avenues, it’s overwhelming. Go one step at a time, and see what you can manage well. The Internet is a candy store full of social media tools and opportunities.  Many are free, which is a wonderful deal. Another recommendation is to attend a writers conference.  That's on my list for next year. Writing is a business on this track, so treat it as such.

6.   Since the writer is his or her own marketing department, learn to write book descriptions that sell books.  Practice writing press releases and put your bio together.  Take a look at authors on Amazon and get some ideas about how to do right.

7. Develop a thick hide and persevere.  Not everyone will love you.  That’s okay.  Take criticism in stride, find the truth in the critique, and use it to write better.  You may avoid a publisher’s rejection going indie, but you won’t avoid readers’ rejections. Writing is not for the faint of heart.

8. Your book should go through the same process that a traditionally published book does.  Deliver a quality product, from the cover to the last page. You want repeat readers. Pull together a team that includes savvy beta readers, a professional editor, and develop a marketing plan.  
   
 Publishing a book on your own is a bit like giving birth.  It’s a painful process and you’ll wonder why you ever thought being a published author was a good idea. I can tell you it is fun to hold your own book. It’s also gratifying to get a note from someone you don’t know, who enjoyed your book. You can see by the covers here, book production is growing. An inspirational novel, then a devotional, and now the mystery series has launched.

No, I’m not getting rich anytime soon. I need my day job…sigh. But, I’m currently living the dream. Seeing someone on an airplane with my book---that’s sweet!

No comments: