Thursday, February 23, 2012

Indie Publishing - What Not To Do & What To Do

There is change in the air that is for sure. The lists at Amazon grow larger. The lists at B&N grow larger. Names like Smashwords have even gotten their own initials - SW - which everyone understands. Kindle, IPad, Nook, CreateSpace, LSI... the list goes on and on. A whole new lexicon has been created for the Indie Author.

For a month now, after purposely initiating myself into this community, I have listened, watched and taken notice of forums, chat boards, Facebook pages, Facebook Groups, Twitters and God only knows what else. I have also carefully watched, sometimes even sneakily trolled and checked Indie authors claims of success (which to no surprise were almost 95% false.) I read the blogs, read the web sites, made a list in my head and in One Note, wanting to know what is right and wrong.

The next articles will be what I have learned. I have no doubt they will be controversial. I have no doubt the Konrath lovers out there will beat me down with their proverbial stick for even suggesting some of the things I will suggest. I also have absolutely no doubt anymore that Indie authors are doing something very wrong in a market that is ripe for change and ripe for what they may have to offer. In short they may ride the wave for a bit, but they sure as hell are heading towards being torn apart by the jaws of defeat.

So here goes some very preliminary thoughts:
  1. 0.01% of Indie Authors will have the luck of not having to do a thing and putting books out there and having them bought up by the public at a rate they can make any living off of.
  2. Indie Authors may think they do not have to check Grammar, syntax, spelling, proofread and other such "mundane" things .. but they are making a grave mistake.
  3. Putting out books because they are made of words and sentences and paragraphs in no way makes you an author. It makes you someone who can type.
  4. Vampires and Zombies do not deserve their own genre.
  5. Book covers are critical. But actually, what you write between the covers will make you or break you.
  6. One great book cover will sell your book until a few people come along and say WTF? and then have the nerve to trash it in a review.
  7. Twittering and Facebook your page and book and links 10 times a day .. pisses people off. 
  8. Giving away free books on Amazon KDP is NOT selling your book though it is a good way to try and "brand" your name as an author.
  9. However poor and destitute you are, if you have put out a book, you have an internet connection. Save some more money and hire an excellent, - not good not mediocre not free - editor and proofreader. Your "Significant Other" does not count.  Neither do your children or friends. Too bad.
  10. Spend 100X more time on what you have written than how your book cover looks.
  11. Do not put down traditional review sites.
  12. Do not put down book publicists who are good.
  13. Do not jump on the "I hate traditional publishers" bandwagon just because they would not look at your book.
  14. Do not plan that Amazon will always be on top of the market (did I actually say that?) Oh my gosh - I did! Someone (probably a lot more that just one person or company) is out there right now watching and planning and figuring out ways to beat Amazon. They may not do it, but all eggs in one basket is really just making it easy for someone to come along and step on the basket and smash all the eggs at once.
  15. There is a process if you want to succeed. That process will cost you money. It will not come easy or free. Unless of course, you are touched by angels and have the fairy godmother on your side. (Which has happened to some - I admit it.)
  16. Research and have fun in forums. BUT forums for writers are not going to get your name "brand" or sales. They are there for information sources, and maybe friendships. 
  17. Use traditional and non-traditional ways of getting your book into hands of people. Believe it or not, the very old and traditional network of friend-tells-friend actually does work. 
  18. Do not offer anyone who can afford to pay for it - your book for free. Period. Would they give you their CC for free? (This obviously does not include book reviewers, book interviews and all areas where you need to get your book out and read and discussed.) --> KDP I discussed above. But the scenario of a friend saying "Oh Wow! You published a book! Can I read it? Can you give it to me?" Say "Sure. Here is the Amazon or B&N Link." and smile sweetly.
  19. Think past Indie. Yes think past Indie. Think about actually writing a book worth reading and preserving. You succeed and want to stay on the Indie path...Great! You want to move to traditional publishers...Great! Do not disallow something just because they ignored you at first. The traditional publishers are going through slow, painful and radical change. You snooze - you will lose.
  20. Decide if you are writing to actually say something, entertain, or make money or a combination of all. Then decide how much your self-esteem and self-respect is worth. Then decide just how you plan to do it. 
  21. As much as I believe in Peter Pan..wishing just is not going to make it happen. 
  22. If you build it...99.99% of the people will not even know it is there.
As I said, I am real new to this whole Indie market. I lived by agents and traditional publishers. Indie has a lot to offer. It also has a lot to lose.

Don't like what I said here? Leave a comment. Trash it. Prove it wrong. But check your spelling first. And my next post will be what actually you should be doing in the process of getting your Indie book to succeed.

Good Luck!


Andy said...

You make some valid points. Some are a bit generalized though. You assume that most indies are simply churning out books in a quantity vs quality approach. Not that this doesn't happen, but I would say the majority are producing at a rate they are comfortable with. The only other comment I take strong exception to is this, "checked Indie authors claims of success (which to no surprise were almost 95% false.)" I take it you're not trying to make indie friends. ;)

Laurie Boris said...

I agree with a lot of this, Ted. Especially on the editing/proofreading point. If you're pouring your guts into your writing, treat it right all the way down the line.

Teddy said...

Andy...LOL..this is not about making Indie friends. In 4 different locations I have seen posts published by the authors claiming "X" and when looking at the books in question, it simply was false. If you give away a million books for free, and then 3 days later are at the bottom of the list...this does not make you a "best-selling" author. No matter how you want to slice the dice.

I look for people who can be honest about what they do and how they do it. If it offends "Indie" authors that I question their claims...shrugs. So be it. But the Amazon and B&N stats are there and so are the lists.

Sabrina Sumsion said...

Ted, you're awesome. Yes, people will disagree with you. Everyone wants to be the exception. Can't wait for the follow up post.

Sandy Nathan said...

Loved it, Ted. You're killed, it won't be by me. You've learned a very great deal in your stint as an Indie. Here's my new (posted yesterday) article from my writers' blog that I think you'll like. Tips on marketing our book. It's actually more cynical than yours about book quality.

MCoorlim said...

Insightful. It's important for Indie authors to stay grounded and have realistic expectations of where they are and where they're going. And, most importantly, write. More of your time should be spent writing than engaging in social media marketing or any of the other tasks we take upon ourselves.

Keep writing.

R. Doug Wicker said...

REALLY good piece here, Ted. If I weren't so thick-headed, I might actually learn something from it.

Instead, I just feel like a loser. ;)

Anonymous said...

Why does 'grammar' have a capital G, and what is a 'CC'? please.

Teddy said...

Grammar had a capital just to "accentuate" it and CC=Credit Card.

Destiny Allison said...

Love what you wrote (yes, I know this is not gramatically correct). Thanks for the honesty and the humor. I have a long time saying -- just because you can make it, doesn't mean you should. Looking forward to the next post.