Self-Publishing Is a Lifetime Learning Experience: Tips from an Indie Author
Although Carole Nelson Douglas has traditionally published more than 60 novels, she wanted more control over her books and decided to go indie. And while she did find the transition challenging – and encountered a “status downgrade” in some of her writers groups -- Publishers Weekly gave her latest, Cat in a Zebra Zoot Suit, a positive review.
After deciding to self-publish, Douglas dove straight into setting up her own press and learning what works, what doesn’t, and what her audience wants. And as an author, her number one goal was to provide readers quality books—just as she had done in the past.
Currently, Douglas is writing the last book in her Midnight Louie series—a book that will use elements from her other series: “I can’t write new novels in all of my five series, so I’m mashing up myself, another option impossible in traditional publishing because the series involved had different publishers.”
We asked Douglas to give her fellow indie authors a few tips:
Look to Your Audience
“Figure out why you’re writing. It’s usually because you didn’t like something in the books you otherwise love, or felt a certain aspect was missing. Bestselling example: Twilight into Fifty Shades of Gray. Figure out who your audience is, who you’re writing for, what genre you’re writing in, and what the books in that genre look like. Recognize that indie publishing is a lifetime learning experience. Yes, some authors broke out big and fast a few years ago, and those gold rush days are over, but audience-expanding strategies are still out there. Look for role models online. Authors love to tell ‘how I did it.’”
Online Advice“Find your online go-to guides, bloggers who give you sound indie publishing ideas. Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch are tops on marketing and the indie publishing climate. For design, I like Joel Friedlander’s thebookdesigner.com. He and others have book design templates. There are a number of independent book and author organizations. Many of these are free, let you contribute, or charge membership.”
“Find and hire good content and line/copy editors and proofreaders. This may be through recommendations in writers groups that encourage aspiring authors, such as Sisters in Crime or Romance Writers of America, from online forums, or word of mouth. Sites like Wattpad give authors a trial-run community. Some congenial writers act as beta readers for each other, but you must, must, must have at least a professional-level copy editor and proofreader before you publish. Develop a thick hide for criticism, but don’t be bullied against your instincts. And your instincts will improve with time, feedback, and self-education.”