Monday, May 26, 2014

My Experience With Indie Publishing (Post 2)

If you missed my first post on indie publishing, you can find it here. This time around, I'll be talking about picking a cover, getting reviews, marketing, and writing the next book.

Initially I had grandiose ideas about creating my own cover. There are plenty of sites out there with stock photos, and people swear by Gimp for fiddling with images, font, etc. I know some people who have designed their own covers and do a fantastic job at it, Maya Lassiter being one. So I looked at stock images and started thinking about what I wanted the cover of The Graveyard Girl to look like. And I was overwhelmed with the choices. Choice paralysis is a real thing, and it was inhibiting my going forward with the cover.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not a self portrait.

I had already signed up with Smashwords, so I went to their list of cover designers and started looking through them. I had a few questions in mind as I searched. Who had made plenty of fantasy and/or young adult covers? Who fit into my budget? Who had a professional looking site? Did they have plenty of examples of covers so I could get a feel for what they were capable of? I settled onVila Design because (1) she'd done a lot of covers, (2), they looked good, (3) many were in the genre I wrote in, and (4) she fit my budget. She gave me about eight to ten images to consider, some of which were really good but I never would have thought to include in my search. She seemed like a mind reader when it came to presenting me with the final two cover choices (or maybe she's made a billion covers so she knows what to expect), and she was fast. My choice paralysis was gone, and I had a shiny new cover.

Reviews are important. They let people know that someone has read your book, and they give readers a better idea about whether or not they might enjoy a particular book. Honest reviews help make a book more noticeable. It's a good idea to ask people for honest reviews via social media, or by asking at the book's end, or by asking for reviews from those who do a bunch of them. There are plenty of people out there who love to read and want to be among the first to get their hands on a good book. One helpful site I found is The Indie Book Reviewers List. It can take a long time to wade through all of the reviewers out there, so it's something I end up doing in bits and pieces when I have time. Word of mouth is one of the most important ways of selling a book, and if you find some good folks willing to review yours and spread the news, then that will help your book start to build momentum.

Once you've got your book out and you've spread the word, the best thing you can do to market it is to write the next book. People enjoy binge watching TV, and they enjoy binge reading their favorite author and/or series. The more books you have out, the more you'll sell, and the happier you'll make your readers. When I decided to self-publish The Graveyard Girl, I waited until I had a rough draft of the second book in the series and had the third novel roughly outlined. Right now I'm working on edits for the second book and tentatively hope to have it out by September, and I hope to have the third one out about four to six months after that.

I'm constantly learning as I go along, and I'm constantly tweaking my plans. As I cross items off my to-do list, others sneak on. But for someone who is a control freak (like me), self-publishing is a great venue. I rely on others to help, but ultimately, I get to say when the book comes out, where, and what it looks like. I was scared when I began this process, but that quickly turned into absolute happiness as I realized just how much fun the process was.

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