Last time I talked about the two sides of most aspects of indie publishing. One thing I didn't mention, because it really doesn't have a true 'con' is that you can set your own career path as an indie published author. If you're with a traditional publisher, they're going to set things like release frequency, print runs, and how many books they want you to write for them. Their goals and visions might not match yours. With indie publishing, you can decide and have (some) control. Is your goal to have a vacation home in the south of France with your indie income? Buy a new car? Or is it to go out to a nice restaurant once a month? While you may not meet all your goals, at least you have the control over what it will take to achieve them.
But before you can begin meeting those goals, you have to publish your book. Today we'll look at what you need before you indie publish:
You wouldn't send a half-finished, unedited manuscript to an agent would you? Or even enter it in a writing contest. What do you need to have before you think about e-publishing?
You need a quality product. That means you have:
1. A good story.
Readers tend to be forgiving of a lot if you can draw them into your story. Do you understand story structure? Pacing? Characterization? Dialogue? Narrative? All of these will add to the richness of the reader experience.
2. A technically correct product.
Reader might not notice the same things other writers will, but even though they can be forgiving, they'll notice mistakes. And they'll tell people (you included) about them. Of course, with indie publishing, you can always fix them and upload another version, but why risk turning off readers?
3. A good cover.
(We'll talk about this next time). For now, pop over to the major bookstores, or wherever you go to buy books. Look at the covers on the entry pages.
4. A good blurb.
If your cover draws a reader's eye, the next thing they'll look at is your blurb and/or book description. With indie publishing, if your sales aren't what you expected, your blurb might be at fault. Were you getting form rejections on your query letters? Perhaps it was because your query letter, which is the equivalent of a blurb, didn't excite them. Your book description has to make the readers click to the next step.
5. Discoverability. (We'll talk about this more next time, too.)
Word of mouth is still the best advertising. Per Mark Coker, CEO and founder of Smashwords, most people find books when they're looking for something else. Your book should be classified and tagged so people looking for similar genres will find yours. One of the best things that can happen (and I'm not aware of any way to make it happen, or even to track it) is becoming one of those "also-boughts." You know, when you buy a book or browse a book's page, you see a row of "people who bought this also bought that." Or, "If you like this, you might like that." I didn't understand why Finding Sarah was outselling all my other titles at Barnes & Noble one month. I hadn't done any advertising, wasn't blogging anywhere about it, yet it was doing well. I checked it's position in the overall rankings, and it was somewhere in the 3-5,000 mark, and in the top 100 for romantic suspense. I clicked on a couple of the top 10 romantic suspense to see what their rankings were overall. And that's where I discovered that Finding Sarah was an "also-bought" for one of the top 5 romantic suspense books (and her book had an overall ranking of somewhere in the 100s, as I recall).
I'll be back on Monday, and we'll look at some things you can do to optimize your success. I'll respond to questions, so feel free to ask. Meanwhile, I'm part of a new venture called "Booklover's Bench." To launch our site, we're giving away a Nook Simple Touch and a book from each of the participating authors. Click over to see more and enter.