Getting Acquainted with the Real World of Indie Publishing

By: Ebonye Gussine Wilkins

Indie publishing is a tough world to navigate. There are so many important issues that need to be addressed if you want to publish, and it’s hard to know where to start. Most people just know that they want to sell their book on Amazon. That’s it. Yes, these people do exist, and I’ve met them. Other people want their books featured in bookstores across America, while others want a more global presence. Since there are so many ways to get published and reach your audience, a one-size-fits-all approach to indie publishing is going to work against the majority of writers.

Here are some of the bare-bone basics that you need to know. Please consider that this is not an exhaustive list, so you still have to do lots of research on your own.

  • You will need an editor. There are no excuses for not having one, so just hire one.
  • You will need interior layout. While there are automated services that can format it for you, you might get inconsistent results across different platforms (for digital). For print, you definitely need to hire a typesetter.
  • Book cover design is important. Sometimes using stock art is okay, but you don’t want to end up with a similar cover to someone with a different book. Decide how much this is worth to you and invest appropriately.
  • Consider where you want to sell your book. This will influence where you decide to market and even how you can sell your book (e.g. online versus bookstores).
  • Think about where to get your ISBN. If you want to ever have a chance of selling your book in a traditional bookstore, buy your own ISBN from Bowker. If you’re only looking to sell your book online in select markets, having an ISBN assigned to you by a company like Lulu or Createspace will suffice.
  • Price your book accordingly. Nobody wants to pay $15 for a 43 page book. Yes, people have done this.
  • Be prepared to market relentlessly. It’s the only way you’ll gain traction. There are a number of ways to do this, so think about it carefully and do what matches your target audience‘s tendencies.
  • Know your target audience. No book is for everybody, and you know it. Some people won’t care what you have to say in your book and that’s okay. Someone, somewhere will.
  • Books cost money to be made. You can come out of your own pocket, exchange services with another professional, or even crowd-fund for your book’s publication. Keep in mind that generally speaking, people don’t like to fund books being made unless it truly speaks to their hearts. People usually just want to buy a book after it’s already made.
  • Book promotion never ends. It doesn’t matter if your book was published five years ago. Make sure people know it was published at all.
  • Don’t be annoying. Teach people the value of your book. Don’t shove your book down anyone’s throat. They will just move away from you slowly, or run quickly in the other direction.
  • Always work toward your next book. Don’t wait until the last minute to announce a new book is coming. Let everyone know, and stick to a schedule. If you hold yourself accountable to meeting your other writing/publishing goals, you’ll continue to push out work regularly, and that will help you in the long run.
  • Know your brand. Know who you are as a writer, and be consistent about it. Readers want to think they know a little about an author and if you and your work are all over the map, they won’t know what to think of you. There is a fine line between being eclectic and being discombobulated. Brand yourself accordingly and stick to it.

How many of these tips did you know? Is there anything here you didn’t know before?

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