Monday, September 17, 2012

A Moment In Indie-Pub Land


Regular YA Stands readers know that I usually interview young adult writers and give updates now and again about what I’m doing. To be honest, I’ve been doing a lot this past year with the release of three books (A Place in This Life in 2011, The Joy & Torture of Joshua James and SWELL in 2012) and the marketing of said books. Going at it alone after being on the traditional route has been a long, arduous process that tries the patience and creativity, and I want to share the beauty of it all with you in this post (I’ll return to my regular author interview postings next time).

After having an agent for nearly two years, and then being dropped by that agent because “the children’s book market is saturated,” I went the self-publishing route with her encouragement. Having been in this world for approximately one year, I have some feedback to aspiring YA writers who are struggling to finish writing their first story, those who have and are seeking representation, and those who are going the same route as me. Of course, the repped-and-pubbed can join in as well.

Having freelanced as a copywriter for many, many years, I understand how time-consuming this life is, while concurrently being delicious. Working for yourself is anything but easy and, as I’ve found out, working as an indie writer is… working for yourself! The easy part is writing the book. The edits are a bit harder. And when you want to get that book ready to go (as in formatting for Kindle, Nook and in hard copy), you best be prepared for gray hairs and have a plenitude of patience.

Back in the early 90s, I started working in magazines and digest books as a copy editor. Because of this experience, I thought I could handle ebook formatting with some ease. Nope. Getting it right for the individual sites is not easy, especially Smashwords with its infamous grinder that chews up your manuscript and spits it out if it’s not formatted exactly to their guidelines. Kindle has been the easiest to format, with Nook a close second. Other smaller sites, such as BookieJar, have their own quirks but can be done if you put your mind to the task at hand.

For hard copies, you can go to a place such as Lulu.com or Createspace.com. Wow! More rules to follow! Not to mention you’ll need cover art. For this, I’ve called on two former coworkers who rock at design. They’ve had to learn the process of book cover design along with me, and there have been several weeks where Createspace sticks its tongue out at my cover and I go back to my artist in frustration. Eventually we nail it and receive the coveted Ready to Order Proof email.

Okay, so the proof is ordered, the ebooks uploaded… time to market the book. Having always been a pantser who dreams of being a plotter, I usually create a plan in my head that goes like this:

1.       Definitely tweet about it.
2.       Make a Facebook page.
3.       Send copies to people who read my last book and liked it.
4.       Get with a blog tour host.

The last part about blog tours is important in that a good host can get your story out there with the people who count – reviewers of whom readers look to for good books. When I fished around for a blog tour host for A Place In This Life, I had what I thought was a green light until two weeks before I was supposed to start, when the host told me in a rather tactless way that “there is no interest in your book.” This hurt a lot, but like anyone who works for themselves, I carried on and found another blog tour host who connected with many reviewers and sent my book on its way. With SWELL, I’ve found another host and it looks like the tour will be wickedly busy. I consider this a good kind of way to spend time as an indie author. To have people want to read my books is an accomplishment, but moving the readers to feel is the goal, and I hope to reach many readers when the SWELL tour starts in November 1.

So when do I find time to write? Not very often these days. With a full-time job, young child to raise, and books to promote, I am lucky to have my head on straight. It’s all part of this game we are playing, and in my opinion well worth the anxious tears and tried patience any day of the week.

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