So after 2 years of hair pulling, chapter revising, giving up and quitting, I am finally getting around to publishing my first fiction novel, Strangely Sober. As opposed to going the traditional route and stacking up loads of rejections, I’ve decided to just go straight to self publishing on the Kindle platform.
Why? Well, here’s an interesting statistic. Only 3% of new authors get their manuscript accepted by a publishing house. In fact, about a year ago, when I thought my novel was done for the first time, I sent it off, along with a well written query letter and a sample chapter. Within 5 minutes, I got an email form rejection. The publishers didn’t even READ my query. They made their decision based on my email alone. Talk about a blow to my fledgling writer self esteem.
I say nuts to you, major publishing company. I can do this all by myself. And I think I’m doing it quite well. So, I’ve decided that I would like to share some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way for any other aspiring ‘indie authors’ out there.
- Never underestimate the power of a professionally done book cover. That old saying, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ has no basis in reality. Your book is going to get judged just on that. So, make it great. There are many different stock photo sites that will allow you to license images. In addition, you can get something custom made like I did. Sites like elance.com will allow you to find the right contractor to make your cover and they’ll do it for a lot less than you might expect.
- Don’t let the spell check on your word processing program be your editor. Hire one. I originally wasn’t going to. I thought it would be far too expensive. Another trip to elance.com proved me wrong. I have a fantastic experienced editor doing my proofreading for a fantastic price and I already know she’s going to help with my sales. In the first 3 chapters, which are usually what gets downloaded for the sample, she found five spelling and punctuation errors. If those had been in there when a prospective reader was considering buying my book, I seriously doubt they would have purchased the entire manuscript. Instead, they would have moved on to someone who knows the difference between ‘accept’ and ‘except’.
- Market yourself! Amanda Hocking and John Locke, both kindle millionaires, credit a large majority of their success to using social media to sell their novels and create buzz. Tell your family and friends. Mine have been a lot more supportive than I thought they would. The big decision maker in how well you do is going to be based on how high up you can get in the search results in any given category. Don’t be obnoxious about it, by spamming everyone’s FB walls with links to your novels website (which you must have). But do ask your family and friends to help get the word out.
Above all, keep your expectations reasonable. It’s not about the money made or the downloads, its about loving your own work and wanting to share it with people. I probably won’t even net back what I invested in making my book perfect, but I know that I’m going to be incredibly proud that is out there just the same.