» 5 Things You Need to Know as an Indie Author

This week, I’m taking the time off to take care of things around my household. But I don’t want to leave you hanging!

Recently, I came across an article called 5 Things You Need to Know as an Indie Author. I really like Authors Publish. Their online periodical actually offers helpful advice for people who want to get published, either traditionally or independently.

This article actually gives tips for those of you who want to self-publish, and how not to do it stupidly. Unfortunately, there is a lot of trash just thrown up by indie authors, and it’s hard to wade through the riff-raff to get to the gems. Not everyone is James P. MacDonald or Cali Usher. Authors like Jim and Cali offer up a great product for the price, and they’re both indie authors.

So if you’d like to be more like them (or me, ha ha), take those five tips to heart. You can be a legitimate indie author, but if you don’t produce quality and market it right, your work will get forgotten.


Pleasant Publishing with Pronoun

Ugh, even that title sounds like an advert. But I promise it’s really not. I’m receiving no compensation from Pronoun for writing this. I just wanted to share my experience for all of the indie writers out there who are looking for a platform to get their work out for public consumption.

Back in October, in time for Halloween, I published Now Entering Silver Hollow. Well, we published it (my spouse and I).

The first time I was in print, Red Rattle Books took care of everything for me. They did my editing, proofing, publishing, and marketing. In that sense, traditional publishing is lovely. But the downside is that you have to do a lot of your own marketing, too, and you will see less of a cut for the work you put out. Your ROI is much more slim.

Then, I published Exit 1042 using Kindle Direct Publishing. It was simple enough. Just follow the steps and get your book out. This process was simple. The only added difficulties were that I had to do my own editing, proofing, publishing, and marketing. Okay, fine. At least I get a slightly larger piece of the pie I spent all my time slaving over, so that works for me. The downside of that is the distribution isn’t wide. It’s on Amazon Kindle and that’s that. So people who own/use/want to access through Nook, Kobo, Google Play, or iBooks are screwed if they want to read your things, because Amazon held onto it exclusively.

That’s okay, of course, because I agreed to it and thought it would be helpful because I was new to self-publishing and had no idea there was a way to publish on all platforms all at once.

Then, along comes Pronoun.

I had no clue what it was, but I was doing an article about the astounding ProWritingAid app when I had to write about publishing platforms. That’s when I found Pronoun and fell in love.

It’s a clean, easy-to-use publishing platform that lets you publish on multiple avenues. If you’re not lucky enough to have a professional editor or otherwise excellent editor look at your work before you publish it, they can connect you to their services. Yeah. They also have amazing book cover artists that will help you with your book’s cover art. Granted that part isn’t free, but you as a writer understand that artists and craftspeople deserve to be compensated for their work.

But everything else on Pronoun is free. You publish, you get your royalties when people buy. That’s it. No magic.

So I started out and discovered that when Pronoun became difficult and unwieldy, it wasn’t a part of the platform that was giving me problems–it was my own errors. Fortunately those were easy to clear up. A bit of formatting here, a touch of what the hell am I doing there, and voila, problems solved.

I had great support throughout the process. I found one issue where I ran into a brick wall and needed help. For some reason, my print ISBN wasn’t pulling through with Amazon, so while Pronoun was telling Amazon they were the same book on different platforms, Amazon was having a derp moment and not believing it.

I contacted Pronoun, thinking they were probably insanely busy and wouldn’t be able to get back to me in a hurry, so I’d have to suffer with the issue for a few days. Not so. A friendly Author Happiness Advocate (yes, that’s their title) named Elissa Bernstein got back to me in less than 16-hours and was pretty much the most incredible person I could work with. She was friendly, personable, and went out of her way to make it a painless experience. She reached out to Amazon who graciously fixed the problem and in less than 24 hours from the time my issue started, it was resolved. I know Amazon also has great customer service (I know this through experience), but I really didn’t think they’d hop-to when Pronoun came knocking.

Don’t know why I thought that but I’m glad I was wrong.

So much gratitude to Elissa for that, and for answering all of my off-the-wall questions about publishing. I’ve promised myself not to pester her with philosophical/unrelated queries, but I bet her answers would be phenomenal.

Here’s the GTTP (get to the point) version: If you’re going to do your own publishing, use Pronoun for your eBooks and CreateSpace for print. You won’t want to run screaming from the house and throw yourself off a cliff that way.

Anne writes books. She likes to write. Write. Anne. Write. You can follow her around on Facebook and Twitter, even at the same time, probably.

On DMCA & Writer Fury

In case you didn’t know, the DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. For a good definition and in-depth look, you can read the Wikipedia page, but here is how they sum it up:

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United Statescopyrightlaw that implements two 1996 treaties of theWorld Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works.

I didn’t really give DRM and DMCA a lot of thought until Wednesday, the 30th of March, when I found someone giving away my short story, Exit 1042. Ouch.

There are a few reasons I’m fairly annoyed by this, and I hope you, as the reader, will indulge me a bit while I discuss why this is a huge issue for writers.

  1. Many of us authors are not raking in millions of dollars off our books. We write because we enjoy it, but we also depend on that sale to help feed ourselves and our families. I don’t make a fortune off my work, though I wish I did, but I need to be able to contribute to my family. When you download from a torrent from a not-so well known author, you may very well be taking away my ability to pay my bills or feed my adorable companion animals.
  2. Small-time authors don’t have the vast resources to fight each infringement, which means a person who is illegally downloading a book is fucking over the little guy. Small publishers and self-publishers are usually struggling to put out entertaining stories and good, if not great, literature. I know that many people who torrent are anti-establishment, and I’m cool with that because I’m pretty damn unusual myself, but think about it: you cannot simultaneously claim to be fighting exploitation of the little guy when you yourself are ripping off the little guy. I’m on my own to get this matter settled. Help me out by not downloading my book for free when it’s for sale by the author or a small publishing company. Yes, often places like Amazon get a cut, but that’s because they’re giving us a platform for our voices. Please don’t make it about them. It’s about the little guy.
  3. It’s ninety-nine cents, for fuck’s sake. Pony up the dollar if you want to read it. Most of my work is and will be offered at affordable prices. Print books will have to be more expensive because a lot goes into it and if I want to feed myself and my family, I have to put a higher margin on it. A lot of small-time publishers and people who self-publish set their own prices in order to make the right amount of money so they can support themselves and their small business.
  4. It is not a victimless crime. For the reasons I’ve stated above, you can see the pitfalls of downloading illegally. While I can understand the desire to stick it to The Man, I’m not The Man. I promise. I’m just a 5’2″ tall (short) little writer trying to make ends meet.
  5. It’s a crappy thing to do. Come on, you’ve read the reasons why it’s not cool. It hurts writers, and it keeps me from publishing more work if I have to keep diverting my attention to chasing down DMCA violations. I’m far more interested in providing people with entertainment at a low cost. In the long run, that’s going to lead to driving up the prices because I can’t afford to lose my electricity.

So for these reasons, I implore people to buy from small publishers and self-published authors legitimately. Give us a chance to entertain you on a full stomach. We’re much better that way.

If you’ve downloaded my work for free, you can redeem yourself in my eyes by going to my author page and purchasing a copy. I will love you forever and forgive you for your transgression.

Thanks for taking the time to listen and thanks even more for understanding.

Anne Hogue-Boucher is the author of Exit 1042 and eats onion sandwiches for fun. You can follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook for funny and always fun posts. Want to read a free story? Here, read this one.


I Have Returned to Dine on Words & Humble Pie

Almost a year ago, I blogged about a phobia I had been developing. A phobia about why I didn’t want to self-publish over the traditional route. There are still a lot of good things about going the traditional route. I’ve been published in Zombie Bites, edited by David Saunderson, and that’s fine. It’s more than fine–I’m among a wealth of other talented writers in a thrilling, humorous, exciting anthology.

This IS the book you’re looking for … at Amazon.

But I got a lot of good feedback from those who have got the route of self-publishing, and I think I’ve changed my mind about how I feel about the DIY route. A couple of friends of mine who are self-published authors really enjoy it. For three main reasons:

  • Total creative control. Your book is your baby, and while it’s great to have a publisher with their in-house editors re-frame your words and cut out the unnecessary bits and change things around, it’s also annoying if and when it comes back to you as diminished from what you intended. It’s good for new writers, sure, but if you’re seasoned, it can get old, fast. When you’re publishing your own work, you get to decide what stays and what goes. You, and only you. That level of control and responsibility is important, and can be a pitfall if you’re not good at editing and pruning, so make sure that you’re surrounded by excellent beta readers and editors who will help you with an objective look at your work. (This is vital to keep your work from falling into the swill of writers who couldn’t do the same.)
  • Retention of profits. When you do all the work yourself, no one else gets a cut of your profits (unless you hire professional editors; then you have to pay them). There’s no agent, no publisher to take a deep cut (Kindle Direct Publishing does take a chunk depending on the pricing of your book), etc. It’s all yours to keep. This is also a great motivation to keep you creating your best work possible on the days you’re feeling ready to just give up. While money isn’t the main motivator for most writers, it’s certainly nice to have a royalty check that’s all yours at the end of the quarter.
  • It keeps you from hitting the publishing wall. Let’s say you’re a niche writer. The competition is fierce. Your work might be really good. Great, even, but if there’s no real market for it, then you’re going to have a hard time finding an agent or publisher who’s willing to pick it up. That’s when self-publishing can save you.
    I have gotten tons of rejection letters that all say the same thing: they love my work, they think it’s polished, but they just don’t have the market for it “at this time.” Well, I would hope that my writing would be worth the risk, but with traditional publishers having to cling to every dollar from their big clients, they don’t often have a lot of room for those of us who are the ‘little guys.’ Fair enough.
    If you do it yourself, you don’t have to worry. You make the market. You’ll work your rear end off, but you’ll do all your own marketing and contact with fans. It might just pay off.

Now, while I enumerated the negatives of self-publishing in my previous post, as well as the drawbacks and benefits of the traditional route, it has become clear to me that both sides have their merits and flaws.

If you have the time and devotion to the written word and a slew of good editors (you can use Bubble Cow’s editing services if you lack beta readers and editor friends), think about going the self-publishing route for good or while you’re waiting for a traditional publisher to pick you up. Get your well-deserved words out there for people to enjoy.

So I will take my slice of humble pie, enjoy it with some refreshing soy milk, and get a book out there all on my own. It’s about time!

Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing?

This is a brief post this week about my personal journey to being published, and why I’ve avoided self-publishing to the point where I’m just about phobic of it.

Photo courtesy of MorgueFile.
I’m more terrified of self-publishing than of this spider. But that’s just me.
Really, a person can get a great deal of success from self-publishing, and it is becoming a perfectly legitimate way to get your stories out to the public for consumption. The ingenious John Dies at the End by David Wong is self-published, and that means all the money went to him. No publisher, no agent, no editor, no other human being got in the way of himself and that sweet reward of food-granting nectar known as money.
But David Wong committed himself to excellent editing (or having someone excellent do it for him), constant self-promotion through Cracked, and the likely superhuman powers to make other people want to read his book.
So why won’t I do it? Because even though I’m a pretty damn good writer, I know that the David Wongs of the world are rare gems, and there are tons of self-published people out there who are struggling to make ends meet. David (Jason) had a great vehicle through Cracked for promotion, and that’s helpful. What I want is someone who can help me get into one of those great vehicles and then BOOM — I can promote the hell out of myself.
My journey is to do the traditional publishing route, and hopefully secure myself a literary agent. Agents, to me, are worth their cut, because a good agent will work his/her fingers to their stubby nubs to get you published. They have all the experience, strategy, and marketing knowledge to sell you, your manuscript, and get your message out to a wider audience.
Isn’t that what you want, anyway?
Whether you choose to self-publish, find an agent, or represent yourself to publishers, just be sure you follow through. Make sure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Keep moving forward, and don’t stop when you get a rejection. Don’t take it personally. Somewhere, there’s an agent or publisher out there who will like your stuff and give you a chance. If you keep working at it, that is.
I’ll let you know how it works for me when I get an agent for myself. Right now, I’m looking forward to October, when my short story comes out.