On Being An Indie Author, by Prue Batten
Being an independent author isn’t easy for the uninitiated. You are competing against traditionally published books with a massive publicity machine as well as against an ever-expanding market of indie published books.
So why did I bother?
I became fed up with the traditional system. It works on a long timeframe and less than 5% of submissions ever make it beyond the gatekeepers. It was time to look at other pathways. I was writing niche fiction then and, according to those in the industry, there was simply no market for it.
I had been working through Cornerstones Literary Consultancy in the UK and the editors there had honed my work within an inch of its life. They also shopped me around to agents. I was close to getting a London agent until she decided I lived too far from the epicentre of publishing, which so shocked me that it became a turning point in my life. I was a member of a peer-review site, www.youwriteon.com, funded by the UK Arts Council, and the week of that fateful moment with the London agent I received an email from the site saying they were venturing into print on demand publishing and asking if I was interested. I took all of an hour at lunch with author GS Johnston to make up my mind.
My life as an indie author began.
Since starting in 2008 I have never looked back. I write a book a year – the time it takes for me to research, write drafts, have it edited, beta-read, re-edited, cover designed, formatted and then released. I set up a website (since rebuilt), a blog and entered the social media world with much trepidation. I entered it at the same time as my peers at You Write On. We stuck together and helped each other. Slowly we began to make a name for ourselves. We followed serious commentators like David Gaughran, Joanna Penn, Joe Konrath and Anne R. Allen, and we heeded their advice.
When I began as an indie author, I was making one sale per month – hardly reassuring. Slowly the novels secured some momentum. I went into this pathway with absolutely no expectations and still have none. I wrote niche historical fantasy and have tended toward the niche side with my historical fiction, so I thought if I sold one or two I would be immensely happy. That said, it has paid off sweetly. How sweetly you ask? In the last twelve months alone, enough to pay for my kitchen and laundry to be renovated. Yes, a small kitchen and laundry but who’d have thought?
If I were to give advice on treading the indie path, it is this:
1. Read as much as you can about the industry.
2. NEVER publish the first book you write. Hone your craft before you present the reading public with a book.
3. Employ a professional editor who also has empathy and humour. You will need that support.
4. Find objective beta-readers.
5. Have a professional cover designed by a qualified graphic artist.
6. Find a formatter or learn how to format both for e-book and print.
7. Publish through a publishing service like Amazon, Smashwords or Draft2Digital. It is the best way to maintain control of your work and to get it into the marketplace easily for minimal outlay.
8. Find blogs, and readers who use them.
9. Enter competitions. An award validates a novel.
10. Expect nothing and enjoy the ride.
Prue Batten’s author website: www.pruebatten.com
Writing Novels in Australia