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April 10, 2015
By Drucilla Shultz
The author of 'Mistress of Melody' advises indie authors to set high standards, avoid scams, and push themselves.

When Kensington Books didn’t renew Anthea Lawson's contract, she was at a loss. But the RITA-Award finalist and author of the traditionally published romances All He Desires and Passionate didn’t let this dissuade her. Instead, she “took the plunge” into self-publishing, and her most recent effort, Mistress of Melody, received a starred, boxed review with Publishers Weekly calling it “entertaining and satisfying,” as well as a “well-paced, humorous love story will delight fans of daring Victorian cross-class romances.”

Lawson began by researching self-publishing. She peppered her friends with questions to get a feel for the industry and followed the blogs of authors Jon Konrath and Kris Rusch, as well as The Passive Voice. Lawson admits to being originally scared of the stigma attached to self-publishing, “Authors were told that if they published themselves, the traditional New York publishing would never want them. It was considered a tainted path. Happily, much of that stigma is now gone.”

We asked Lawson if she had any tips for authors entering the world of self-publishing.

Set High Standards

"Find some trusted first readers to give you feedback, push yourself to do better, and never stop working on your craft."
“I started out with some bad self-made covers, and was successful despite that. It’s a lot harder to do, now. The standard for indie authors in terms of professionally designed covers, well-formatted books, and good editing, is now quite high—which benefits us all. If you can’t afford a professionally designed cover and copy-editing, save up until you can. Check out the wide array of excellent pre-made e-book cover sites out there. Get recommendations for a good copy-editor (not necessarily a content editor -- know the difference!) for your work. These things are essential.”

Do Your Research

“Steer clear of predatory vanity presses. You should be the one doing the uploading of your books to the vendors—with the exception of vetted third-party distributors like Smashwords and Draft2Digital. If you’re unsure, do some basic research online to make sure you’re not getting scammed.”

Push Yourself

“Most importantly, write the best book you can. It all comes down to writing a story that will resonate with readers. Find some trusted first readers to give you feedback, push yourself to do better, and never stop working on your craft. Without a good book, nothing else matters…[and] the beauty of publishing [yourself] independently is that [you] can choose to bring those stories to the market, for readers to discover and enjoy.”