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How Not To Look Self Published

Selling Your Writing in 13 Weeks, Week 6.

by
Sarah Hoyt

Bio

November 16, 2013 - 8:00 am
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By all means, leap, but look first.

By all means, leap, but look first.

I know sometimes the lot of us who are indie publishing sound like a deranged chorus of school children going “come on in, the water is fine.”

However, as you must have heard once or twice, you shouldn’t jump off a bridge just because all your friends are doing it. Or at least you shouldn’t leap before you look.

Here are a few things I wish I’d known when I started off. Mind you, I didn’t make as many mistakes as I might have, but I still made plenty.

I will give you some resources to check on for indie publishing, in a supplemental post (and I’m sorry I’m behind with those, but I caught the stupid flu) later on, but meanwhile here are some basic things.

While indie publishing lumps together micro presses, some small presses and self-publishing, what we’re going to be talking about here is mostly self-publishing. Or rather, how to not self-publish while self-publishing.

Confused? Don’t be. I’ll explain.

This post will mostly cover forms of self-publishing because the process to submit to micro and small presses is largely the same as to submit to traditional publishers. The advantage versus disadvantage calculations in small vs. large publisher is something you’ll have to do on your own, depending on the self-publisher and what you’re doing. Some small publishers are much better at giving you personal attention, some worse; some are very exacting with their accounting, and some… aren’t. (Then again the same could be said for some larger publishers.)

However, when you self-publish, it doesn’t mean you just throw your work on Amazon under your own name with no publisher.

You can do that of course. The fact that you can do that is one of the beautiful things about the time we live in.

However, even though in publishing circles themselves, and where no one has anything invested in dissuading you from self-publishing (as most traditional publishers do) the stigma associated with self-publishing is mostly a thing of the past – the general public doesn’t necessarily do this.

It is hard for those of us on the inside, seeing how fast the publishing landscape has changed these last four years, and being aware that some people have made fortunes by self-publishing, to realize that most of the reading public isn’t aware of this sea-change.

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Top Rated Comments   
Nonsense. I've been at it 45 years and I have never found anything "simple" about marketing myself and my business. The ladies advice is of the ""I'm sending you out like sheep among wolves. So be as cunning (wise, shrewd) as snakes but as innocent as doves." sort. That's good advice and there is nothing immoral about it. Anyone afraid of a little shameless self-promotion really should just go get a job.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (13)
All Comments   (13)
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"And people have a strange way of seeing/hearing what they expect. For instance, though my accent sounds, if anything, closer to Russian, some people on hearing I’m from Portugal will swear I sound like Ricky Ricardo."

I had to laugh when I read this. On our first trip to Portugal a few years ago, my wife and I thought the country had been invaded by Russian tourists. It took a bit for us to realize that instead the native Portuguese simply sounded Russian. I've had many people look at me like I'm insane when I make that comparison, so "Thank you!" for confirming this a real thing.

Interestingly, Brazilian Portuguese sounds like Spanish.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Most of the reading public is still absolutely convinced that traditional publishers scrupulously edit everything they get in, too. And they think that each and every book – even the mid and low list – gets very personal attention."

I very much doubt this--most readers don't even think about how the sausage gets made unless rampant typos, unreadable layouts or cheesy illustrations remind them of the downsides of poor editing/publishing. Maybe they have some brand recognition for publishing houses that produce works they like or are associated with authors they love, but I don't think they think about the nuts and bolts of how that paperback got to the airport kiosk.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Very good advice for the professional author. I had a different objective, wishing to publish a "how to" book for clients and for people who were planning their estate. I wrote a draft, got an editor to review it for a modest amount of money, and paid someone else to put it into format for one of the print-on-demand publishers. After lots and lots of proofing and editing (my wife's great at that) I had it printed, it's on Amazon in print and Kindle versions and I'm very pleased with the result.

The hardest thing is getting the word out, but I'm still working on that. I'll be happy to provide details on who I used and what it cost to anyone who's interested. http://www.korvingco.com/Before-I-Go.asp
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
As the co-owner and managing director of a very successful niche history press (and a fan of yours, by the way), the thrust of your entire article might be entitled, "How to Trick your Audience be being a Clever Deceit."

If you are going to self-publish, for heaven's sake just do it, and on your blog, on your website, on your social media page--simply explain why you did, how you developed and edited your content, and why you stand behind it.

I think readers are likely to weigh your work more positively if you are honest with them from jump street. Or, when they discover you went to a lot of work to pretend you are a zebra when in fact you are a mule, they will weigh your work with a heavy thumb on the scale.

Sarah, I am disappointed by this one.

Ted Savas
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Can't figure out how you got from her actual post to "deceit".
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nonsense. I've been at it 45 years and I have never found anything "simple" about marketing myself and my business. The ladies advice is of the ""I'm sending you out like sheep among wolves. So be as cunning (wise, shrewd) as snakes but as innocent as doves." sort. That's good advice and there is nothing immoral about it. Anyone afraid of a little shameless self-promotion really should just go get a job.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
The people who want their self-published book to look like a self-published book must be the same ones who get a snake tattoo on their face before applying to beome a server in a five-star restaurant. Regardless of your past, you want your book to look as professional as possible when you publish it yourself.

Also, don't bother to spend $50-100 on a cover unless the artist is a friend who is doing you a favor. It's a waste of money if the person is only a slightly better-than-average artist because the result will look amateurish. My daughter is a graphic artist who has done covers for a half-dozen self-published books, and her starting fee is $250. But she'll give you a professional cover for that price.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
First, my cover artist did a professional job at a pretty good rate. I acheived this by licensing his commissioned art for use on my covers and advertising materials, but the license was limited and allowed him to keep his copyright and still use the art for any other non-book related purposes.

Second, I will gladly pimp my artist Lance Red. His work can be found at his website www.redaydream.com for those who are interested in more fantasy style work.

Third, I will pimp myself as well. If you like fantasy fiction with a libertarian bent to it, then my website can be found at www.mythlogicpress.com for those who are interested.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's pretty much the range I paid for my novel. Paying an editor was considerably more but not unreasonable.

I see no reason to offer an inferior product simply because I elect to own my publishing company and retain my rights.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nice intro, Sarah. I highly recommend Dean's stuff - he and Kristine Kathryn Rusch both do a great job of breaking down the process of publishing work that is as good or better than the job being done by the Big 5 publishers.

The single biggest hurdle is remembering that publishing is a business. If you are taking the time to write a great novel, why wouldn't you take the same effort to make sure the packaging makes it appealing to the readers?

And, as Formerly Lucy pointed out, if you don't have the skills, you can hire it out for a very reasonable fee.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
My first book Hell's Reward came out a month ago and I realized after the fact that I shouldn't have put spacing between my paragraphs. I also didnt come up with a publishing company but I will do that on my next one due in the spring. Actually, I have a book coming out next month I will probably do that with. But I did get a professional painted cover for my fantasy novel and so far response has been good. Reviews have been great. I went direct with Amazon despite the fact I knew I could find a publisher because I've had my fill of publishers after almost 30 years as a professional writer. And while it's a lot of extra work to self promote the truth is, I'd have to do that anyway as a first time novelist.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeahbut I gather that a lot of people doing self-publishing *want* to look self-published, especially established (even on a modest scale) authors trying it for the first time.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
Of course it is perfectly possible to find a very reasonably priced pre-made professionally looking cover designed by a graphics artist. Many people are not confident in their design skills and it would be better to spend the $50-$100 to get someone else to do it so you won't be embarrassed even if you don't know you should be.
36 weeks ago
36 weeks ago Link To Comment
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