It’s fair to say that everyone at Triskele Books has learned a lot and gained bucketfuls of experience over the past eighteen months or so. But you can never know too much about the dos and don’ts and rules and regulations of indie-publishing.
We have put together a User’s Guide of Tips from some of the most established voices in the industry, and added into the mix one or two sage words of advice we’ve learned ourselves.
Writing a book is no mean feat. But publishing it yourself is another story. If something you read here helps you along the way, our job is done!
1) Build a Rapport
“Get your name and brand out ‘there’ now by reaching out to bloggers and writers who share your genre, and build a rapport. Support others’ books and writing and they just might do the same for you.” (30daybooks.com)
2) Take Creative Risks
“There is one other factor that doesn’t get discussed as much, but in my mind is just as important: The freedom to bend and blend genres, invent new forms, and take creative risks.” (A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing)
3) Website savvy
“Ensure you have at least a professional looking website and an email sign up list so that you can direct people from your book back to this site, and start building the list for the next one so you’re in a more confident position next time around.” (Joanna Penn - How to Market A Book.)
4) Social savvy
“Social media plays a huge role in building an author’s platform, marketing, and author branding. One of our favorite social media platforms is Twitter.” (BiblioCrunch)
5) Focus on the Basics
“A well-written story, a smart cover, a proper edit, clean formatting, and an enticing blurb. You only have to do that stuff once, and then you can get back to working on the next book.” (David Gaughran)
6) Passion, Persistence, and Pluck
“The playing field is leveling—Net neutrality ensures the internet stays equally available to all. As far as online business is concerned, each book competes on its own. In this environment it’s your passion, persistence and pluck that will sell your book, and that’s within your power.” (The Book Designer)
7) Write Well, Publish Regularly
“You don’t have to chase the hottest genre or write for mass appeal to make a living as an indie author; you do have to write well enough to appeal to the people who enjoy your niche, and you do have to publish regularly to keep your name out there, especially when you’re first building up your fan base.” (Lindsey Buroker)
8) It’s All About Connecting
“But what I learned is that the best way for me to look at my writing career is to remember why I write. It’s to reach readers, to touch their hearts, maybe even change their lives (for the better).” (Live. Write. Thrive)
9) Quality Books Take Quality Time
“If you don’t pay attention to the quality control of your work, you’ll kill your writing career before it even starts. Readers are not stupid. They may be downloading 99¢ e-books like crazy right now. But they’re already starting to figure out that something’s not right. Many of these books are poorly written and desperately need editing. (Rachelle Gardner)
10) The Big IF
“[It's the] movement that says we CAN publish well all by ourselves—if we embrace the right tools, take the time to develop our craft, find the right team members, educate ourselves, and are willing to step out of our comfort zones for the sake of our book’s success.” (Wise Ink)
11) Make Sure Your Book is Amazing
“Professionally edited with a professional cover design. Spend money on this because all the marketing in the world won’t sell a crappy book.” (Joanna Penn - How To Market A Book.)
…. from Triskele member, Liza Perrat
Support other indie authors: connecting with, supporting and promoting other indie authors whose work I respect is vital. And it works both ways.
Join Goodreads: participate in groups relevant to your books, to connect with like-minded readers, and thus target readership for your books.
Host giveaways: on your own blog or website, or those with a large following, to help spread the word about your books, and gain exposure.
…. from Triskele member, JJ Marsh
Use your environment: Be a local author and visit book clubs, do signings, promote via local media. And if the book is set somewhere different, play up that feature, approach Russian/Japanese/German book bloggers and focus on the setting. If your book fits in a genre, there’ll be aficionados somewhere who want to read it - use online connections. Just remember to give more than take.
Be discoverable: Find yourself platforms which do not promote your work, but establish you as a writer to trust - through journalism, blogging, guest posting. Ensure those curious enough to click on your bio will be directed to your body of work, which has easily clickable links. Make yourself easy to find.
Keep reading: All the blog posts, articles, comments, Tweets, status updates, co-promotions and press releases add up to a lot of content, not mention working on the next book/short story. All output and no input makes Jill a dull girl. Switch off, unplug and just read, at least once a week. Call it topping up your reservoir.
…. from Triskele member, Catriona Troth
An extract from my rejection letter to a mainstream publisher
'Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot. Maybe I’m cutting myself off from a level of marketing and distribution I can’t hope to emulate as an indie author. Maybe. But I will choose when I publish my book. I will decide what it’s called and what is on the cover. I will determine how long it remains on sale to readers. I won’t have the help and advice of a traditional literary editor, but neither will my ideas be overruled by some anonymous marketing professional from a supermarket chain.'
For me, one of the real visionaries in the world of Self Publishing is Polly Courtney who turned her back on her golden ticket dream with a big traditional publishers to go the indie route. I always remember her words because for me too control is vital: ‘The main benefit for me is the ability to fulfil the vision you have for a book, from how it's worded right through to how it's sold and promoted. You can make things happen – and not just via traditional means. I've had the chance to experiment, testing cover designs on a pool of collaborators, opening up my first draft to self-selected 'editors' from social media and making a film-style trailer for the book. I'll also be able to play with the ebook pricing when it comes out.’
…. from Triskele member, Gillian Hamer
Be as professional as you possibly can in every aspect of your book. Do what you do well (ie the writing bit) and leave everything else – as much as your budget will allow – to the professionals.
Join a critique group – either virtual or real life. Make sure at least a half dozen pair of eyes if possible have read and discussed your novel before you type The End.
Invest in a proof reader you can work with and trust, try to build up a relationship with an editor, so they understand you and your writing style.
.... from Triskele member, JD Smith
When looking for a professional to help you, whether it's copy editing, proofreading, formatting or cover designing, make sure you ask for recommendations. Never use someone you don't trust or you haven't had referred to you by a satisfied customer. Look at their portfolio and ensure that they are the best person for your needs.
Expensive doesn't always mean the best. Good cover design and formatting doesn't cost the earth. It's worth budgeting for it because in the long run it can save you lots of time and frustration that could be spent marketing your book or writing the next one.
Never let the world of writing get you down. Set yourself small, manageable deadlines. Remember that you are meant to be writing because you enjoy it, not because you have to do it.
Thanks to http://www.darlawrites.com/ for triggering this idea. Check out Darla's site for many more insights and inspirations.