The Indie Process
I covered the basics in the blog here, but now we're going to dig in a little. This framework should help guide you through the process.
This is just the way I did it though. Keep in mind that if it doesn't feel right, then do what you need to do. Everyone's publishing path is different.
Let's refresh ourselves on the list.
1) Decide WHO you are.
2) Build your platform.
3) Hone your product.
4) Hire a professional support team.
5) Decide WHERE you're going to publish.
6) Write your next book.
8) Develop your own publishing path.
Decide WHO you are...
When I first started, I wasn't sure if I was going to keep my own name or not. I used to be a cop, so it was kind of ingrained in me to keep my personal information private. It felt very strange to contemplate having my legal name on everything I produced.
Then I started researching my name, which I strongly suggest that every person do. Boy was that eye opening. Little did I know that there are several Jennifer Maddens, the most popular one being a porn star.
When you encounter a situation like that, you have to think about brand awareness. I planned to write military romance with disabled veteran heroes and I didn't want that heartwarming focus diluted if people looked for me and found porn. Obviously. I settled on the first letter of my first and middle name, then used my last name. It has worked to my benefit, although I have been called JIM a few times...
Pseudonyms are common in the publishing industry, but I personally wanted to be transparent with my readers.
Some vocations, such as teachers, need to keep their secondary career completely separate from their primary career, which is understandable. There have been a few public incidents of erotica authors being 'outed' and their moralities judged, forcing them to choose one career over the other.
Choosing a pseudonym or not is a completely personal choice. I suggest that you have someone call you by your pen name for a while, just to see if you can tolerate it. Check with a web address provider and see if that name is available as a dot com and buy it as soon as possible.
Just a word to the wise- sometimes those sites see interest in a name and will up the price the next time you go look. Buy the name and a couple of variations, just to be safe.
Build your Platform
It seems a bit counter-intuitive, but as soon as you decide to become a writer, you need to start building your author platform. An author platform includes website, newsletter and social media platforms. And I'll tell you why...
There are a lot of people that will engage in your writing progress.
I have a writing buddy, and at the beginning of her career, she came to us and told us that she had chosen a pen name- Would we all call her by that- and that she was writing a book. That determination was something to see, and she continued, announcing herself on Facebook and other social media platforms. She didn't have a book written, but she was beginning the process, and she built a crowd of followers that became her cheerleaders. Every day she would drop in and talk about her characters and how many words she'd gotten written that day, and her audience grew. By the time she actually released the book more than a year later, she already had an incredible fan base to BUY that book.
It seems like putting the cart before the horse to have a website and mailing list up before you actually have a book ready, but it is definitely one of the first things you need to do. That was my writer friend's biggest regret. She had Facebook friends but no website or way to gather emails, so she couldn't tell people about the next great book she wrote. She had to start all over again.
Years ago I fell in love with a series by an author named Sunny. No last name, just Sunny. She's not listed on Google, no website. Amazon had a site listed for her but it takes you to a pot site in Oregon. No lie. I think this lady could have had an amazing writing career. Her first series was phenomenal. But it just ended and it was like she crawled into a cave. If she's ever put anything out by any other name or genre, I've never seen it.
There are plenty of free/low cost sites out there to build a website and newsletter. And there are plenty of people that can give you guidance on how to do it. Look at YOUR favorite authors and their platforms and work from there.
Hone Your Craft
This is self-explanatory you would think, but it's really not. So many people fall into the trap of believing that once they finish a book it's ready to release into the world. I can guarantee you that it is not.
When I first started, I wrote fan fiction, basically. I just didn't know it was called that. I re-wrote endings to books I'd read, or continued them on. I wrote a story on a series that involved a popular military show on TV.
Professionally, I was a deputy sheriff, so I was taught to write concise, detail only reports that would cover your ass in court. Court cases could take years to go before the judge, and you needed to have enough details in those reports that you could summarize what happened years later, even if your own memory failed you.
It wasn't until I joined the Lexington chapter of RWA that I started learning narrative fiction, and the proper way to do it. Every month they had classes and critiques. I learned so much from them. There were veterans of the industry there that gave us invaluable information about writing in general. And after a couple of years of honing my craft, they gave me the courage to finally approach a small press when it was time to publish...
Where I again had to learn how to edit and polish my work, then do it again.
I learned so much from those women, and I love to return the favor to other new writers. Hence, the website.
Some authors work years on one masterpiece, then are too terrified to let it into the world. If you are confident in your skills as a writer, it will be easier to release the book. There are many craft workshops listed everyday, surely something will appeal to you. You know what your weaknesses are, so take the steps to make them better.
Check libraries and book stores for writing classes. It may need to be something you do on-line. Take the time to teach yourself the proper way to write, then, when you're more experienced, you can decide which rules you can break and get away with. Lol!
Now that the pandemic is somewhat under control, look for ways to meet up with people to talk shop. Or look for conferences. I learned so much attending writing conferences, first as a reader, then as an author.
Build your support team
When you Indie publish, you HIRE contractors to help you with your book. You hire a cover artist, you hire a person to format your work. You might hire as many as three editors- content or developmental, line and proofreader. You might hire someone- or a company- to advertise your book for you when it releases. You might hire a Personal Assistant to help you with everything.
It is a serious process lining all these people up to support you. You have to negotiate prices and schedules, and personalities. Sometimes you just will not click with a person, so you have to move on to the next contractor that offers the service you need.
If you're working on more than one manuscript at a time like I do, the process becomes even more difficult.
But you find your people, you pay them on time and appropriately and make things work. If you need contractors, check out the Indie Author Service tab.
I haven't needed to hire a developmental editor for many years, and I've taken over the formatting myself. I do most of the advertising myself, as well. You have to gauge what you are able to do and what you need to hire out. And roll with it.
Decide WHERE you're going to publish.
So, this is a big one and I'm going to break it down into sections.
I've gone over this information a few different places on this website, so don't be surprised if you see it again.
There are 4 main ways to publish. Traditional publishing houses, small e-publishing houses, indie publishing, or a combination.
TRADITIONAL publishing- For years and years, there was only one way to publish, and that was through a traditional publishing company. Fiction or non-fiction, generally you pitched to an agent, an agent took your work and presented it to traditional editors to see if they would buy it. The chances of getting a traditional publishing contract were pretty slim, which gave it a certain amount of prestige.
I myself grew up reading romances by authors who had traditional contracts. When I started writing, I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would ever be published. It wasn't until I had feedback from critique partners that I contemplated pursuing it.
By that time I had been around long enough to know that traditional publishing wasn't all it was cracked up to be. I'd learned that the contracts were lousy. Many of the authors I read regularly still had full-time jobs other than writing, earning sometimes as little as $.10 to $.15 per book sold. Yes, cents.
I knew I wanted to go with a smaller e-publishing house, so I did. More about that in a minute.
Traditional publishing has a place in our world, but it isn't the be-all and end-all I once thought it was. If you want a traditional contract, be prepared to wait a long time. And jump through hoop after hoop at their whim. AFTER you get an agent, of course. It can be done, but be prepared for many years of grind.
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I'm not a coach, but...
I do occasionally give good advice. If you get into a pickle I'm more than happy to talk to you about your issue and maybe give you some suggestions. You can either email me at Jen@theindiepubpath or contact me through the contact page.