by Rachel Hauck
The world of publishing is changing. And you know this unless you just awoke from a long 10 year nap.
There are more options available to writers today than ever before.
The e-publishing entrepreneurs have changed the way we see book publishing. Writers around the world rejoice. Authors with no platform, or with a stack of rejections can publish their books on their own. Long time authors holding rights revisions can now do something affordable and effective to revitalize their out-of-print books. And the publishers can do the same. There’s new life to backlists. I recently had a three year old title, Dining With Joy, run as the Amazon Daily Romance Deal. Nice!
If you’re not published yet, traditionally or independently, you have all kinds of options. But you must ask yourself, “Am I ready?”
Just because you can be published doesn’t mean you should be published.
I know, I know, it’s so hard to wait when you’ve been working on a book for months or perhaps years.
You’ve edited that thing to death and your crit partners have read ad nauseam and refuse to read it “one more time.”
You are ready to get your book out there. After all, you love your story. It’s your baby. But traditional publishers have failed to see its merits. So, you sneak over to Amazon’s CreateSpace and think, “Hmm… I could just publish it myself.”
I love your entrepreneurial thinking. Going outside the box and finding a way to tell your story is key to being a great author.
I did something similar back in ’02 when I sold my little romance, This Time, to an e-publisher. No one had ever heard of a Nook or Kindle back then but I thought, “Even if one person reads it and enjoys it, one person outside my circle of friends, then it’s worth it.”
While it’s a sweet story, it’s not my best writing. It was only the second book I’d ever written. I’ve learned so much since then.
There are more things to consider about writing than “being published.” Or that the publishers just don’t “get” or like your story.
Publishers have to consider their market. They must give something to the sales team that they can pitch to a bookseller in a few short minutes. If that.
Publishers have to consider their own business goals and brands. Your story might be fantastic in every way but not a product that fits the vision and goals of a publisher.
There are times I’m not sure I can come up with a high concept, pitchable story idea that will fire-up a sales team. So I consult with my writing partner, my agent, my editor and on occasion, my dog. She’s a good listener.
For every indie success story such as J. A. Konrath and Amanda Hocking there are a hundred Noname Jones and WhoAreYou Smith with books languishing in e-publishing la-la land.
Indie books, above all books, it could be argued, need to be a cut above. Why? Because the competition to be seen is incredible.
If you are considering independent publishing, or even going with a small publishing house, consider these things:
1. Rewrite your book. Serious. Don’t just edit and “fix.” Rewrite. Books need to be crafted. And they are not written, they are rewritten. Fork out the money for a substantive edit. Then for a line edit. What’s the difference? A substantive edit is also called a macro edit. It’s a wide review of the story and characters from a trained eye to see if all the components work. You need more than advance readers in order to craft a good story. Readers often don’t have a critical eye. They overlook inconsistencies. They don’t understand craft. A skilled editor can help with characterization, plot, symbols and metaphors. But again, a macro edit is a sweeping, top-down view of your story. I once worked with a private client who’d been through many professional “editors.” While they helped her with grammar and perhaps some minor elements of the story, they provided no services to her with story crafting. Her story and premise were riddled with holes. So find someone to help you craft your book.
2. Hire a good line editor. Also called a micro editor. I love line editors. They really get into the “weeds” of the story. They focus on sentences and words where a substantive editor focuses on scenes, chapters, story and characters. Line editors can really help shore up a story and fine tune minute details.
3. Hire a good cover artist. Unless you’re a skilled artist, don’t try to do the cover yourself. I hate when I see a poor quality cover on an indie book. It makes me not want to read it. There are a lot of skilled artist who will create a cover for a reasonable price. Also, research components of a good cover. Writers usually want way too much detail. But covers are really visual concepts of what the story is about. Covers should convey a feeling. It’s true, books are judged by the cover.
4. Pricing. The free verses cheap debate. Should authors give their work away for free? Aren’t we worthy to be paid for our labor? But free often gets the consumer’s attention. But so does cheap. Latest news I’ve heard is $.99 and $1.99 are fair and solid prices for new indie authors. But do your research.
5. Build your tribe and social media platforms. Build relationships with other writers, with readers, with publishers. Be a friend. Be a fan. Be a supporter. Talk about others as much as you talk about yourself. I know when readers or other writers shout out to their social media venues about my books, I’m more than happy to do it for them in return. If I like a book, I post about it. I write a good review. Get involved in the writing community like ACFW or My Book Therapy. Networking is the key to just about everything. Publishing, especially indie publishing, is no exception.
6. Set aside at least $1,000 to $3,000 for promotion. You just have to do it. Network with indie authors who have experience with promotion. Join Book Bub and other indie promotional sites.
7. Pray. Be patient. Trust the Lord’s timing is perfect for you.
I hope these help to help. Remember, no book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble is better than a bad book. 🙂
Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as RITA nominated The Wedding Dress and RITA nominated Love Starts with Elle, part of the Lowcountry series. She penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Their novel Softly and Tenderly, was one of Booklists 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals.
A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, she worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in uncomfortable chair to write full time in 2004.
Rachel serves on the Executive Board of American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is ACFW’s 2013 Mentor of the Year, and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker.
Her latest release is Once Upon A Prince, the firsts in the Royal Wedding Series. Her next book, Princess Ever After, releases in February 2014.
Rachel, I love this. You are so right about your book having to be a cut above the rest – no matter which way you decide to go with publishing. I have learned that the hard way, like so many before me. I’ll be sharing this post with my writing group. I had already decided to make this an important theme through all the workshops at my conference this year.
Thanks Jan! 🙂 It’s so important to do go work!
I appreciate your advise with explanations. Most helpful for a beginner!
Thanks Loretta! You’ll learn a lot on this blog!
Great advice, Rachel. I.Am.So.Glad.I.Didn’t.Get.Published.Early!
I was so not ready. So, I think one thing writer’s really need to do is invest in a good editor or a paid critique. Someone who will be honest with you and tell you if your book is ready.
I love the comment about consulting your dog! My dog is quite a character and one if my sounding boards!
Thank you for all the sage advice!
True, there are lots more publishing opportunities as there used to be but one thing is still the same: all are out (and all-out) for your money. The world is being populated by the little writers, coming up like pretty mushrooms all over the place. With the “right” training (no shortage with suppliers and demand for bucks and illusions by the respective parties), what d’you know, you are a writer, too! And I don’t mean this cynically. You are! And you will have some appeal, the 99 or 198 cent appeal via the e-market. Local communities and interest groups will read you, the ones sucked in with your constant advert, i.e., your blog. Hard work, relentless, at being the one. And yet, who are you? We need greats, actors, actresses, writers, painters, sculptors. We don’t need quantity, oversupply, as this would reduce the appeal of all. And yet, everyone now being able to do anything and everything – so you are told – this is were we are headed. Novel, short story bloggers. In addition to all the others. Eking out a living. Being minimal, of course. As it happens to be fashionable, but not accidentally so.