Welcome to YABC's behind the scenes look at the world of indie publishing. Independent publishing and self-publishing have had a bad rap in the past, but exciting things are happening within the industry and we're going to be talking about everything you never knew about indie publishing. In the past self-pubbing was kind of a back-up plan. An option to take when every other avenue to publishing was closed after your exhaustive efforts to "get published." Now, self-publishing is a viable option many authors choose to pursue. Check us out every month for more on what it means to be indie. But first up, what should you know before you begin your adventure as an author? Indie author, Michelle Lynn has some tips for you.
Melissa A. Craven
YABC Indie Manager and Staff Reviewer
So, You’ve Decided to Write an Indie Book
By: Michelle Lynn, YABC Staff Reviewer
So, you’ve decided to write an indie book. That’s wonderful! Good for you. You've made the first step in an incredibly long, yet rewarding process. A process that will knock you down and make you question everything you know. If you don’t constantly ask yourself “Why am I doing this?” then you’re one of the lucky ones.
Here’s a secret only known by the authors who figure out the answer to that inevitable question. And no, it isn’t that you just want to see your name in print, or that you feel like people should hear what you have to say, or even that you need the money. The real answer to the “Why” for most fiction authors is that we just can’t imagine doing anything else.
If that’s already your answer, you’re ahead of the game and I’m proud of you. So proud of you, in fact, that I’m going to share five things you need to consider now that you’ve decided writing is a need, rather than just a want.
- Temper your expectations – writing an indie book isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. In fact, most of the time it’s not a get-rich-at-all scheme. Yes, we’ve all heard of the rare few authors like JK Rowling, who is richer than the queen of England. We know Stephen King is rolling in it and James Patterson is one of the most recognizable names in literature. In reality, most authors never quit their day jobs. That’s not a reflection of their writing, just the flooded market and the low price of ebooks. You could write the most brilliant book in the world, and I hope you do, but always remember to keep your expectations realistic. Writing is a long-term slog, not a short-term sprint to fame and fortune.
- Choose your genre deliberately – but remember this can always change in the course of your career. I’m on my third genre with my current series and love the challenge that brings. You need to know your genres and what to expect from each. Each genre has its pros and cons but it’s a good idea to know them and their audiences before you set out on your journey to become an author.
- Publishing – there are three avenues to publishing, and each have their benefits – traditional publishing, indie publishing, and self-publishing. Not everyone separates indie and self-publishing. We'll be talking about the differences between these options later in this blog series. But it is important to do your homework and learn what your options are. The publishing world is an ever-changing beast and you don’t want to be left behind.
- Editing – this is a big one. Educate yourself on the mechanics of writing now, as you begin your journey to becoming a writer. Are you going to meticulously outline your story, or are you going to wing it? Are you going to write in first person? Third person? Past tense? Present? Do you understand how to write and punctuate successful dialogue? Do you understand passive voice? The list is endless and it can be daunting to learn what you're doing wrong when you don't know what you don't know. Any editor worth their salt will catch your mistakes, but the fewer mistakes an editor has to catch, the more likely they will be able to help you finalize your draft into the professional polished manuscript you set out to write. Just because it’s inevitable for first time writers to make mistakes doesn’t mean you shouldn't try to avoid making them.
- Just write! – get on with it. No one is going to write the story for you. This is on you. You can believe with every fiber of your being that you have a magnificent book within you, just dying to get out. But if you don’t hop to it, then it’s just wasted talk.
So here it is. If you can’t imagine doing anything else, I’m happy for you. You’re entering an incredible world where you’ll meet amazing people, which is probably the best part! Writing a book is a phenomenon I wish everyone could experience. Once you start writing, everything around you becomes a possible story. The smallest things can be inspiring, and who wouldn’t want to be inspired every day?