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June 8, 2015
By Drucilla Shultz
Indie author Sherban Young urges self-publishers to create and execute a publishing plan.

Sherban Young mastered self-publishing gradually: he started with e-books, then moved to paperbacks, and finally to hardcovers. This turned out to be a way for him to learn the nuances of each format, as he could focus on one format at a time: “E-books don’t sell the way softcovers do, and softcovers don’t sell like hardbacks—but it’s helpful to start with a plan and modify it as you go.”  

Since 2009, Young has self-published two series and a few standalone titles. Publishers Weekly called Fleeting Chance (the fourth volume in his Enescu Fleet series) “a nice blend of humor and detection, with a clever resolution that may surprise even veteran whodunit readers.” PW also reviewed the prequel to Young’s Warren Kingsley series, Double Cover, saying “Bertie Wooster fans will appreciate Warren Kingsley, the inept star of this comic mystery, which will have readers chuckling.”

One thing Young wishes he knew more about before diving into self-publishing was the different aspects of marketing: “I went in knowing that, no matter who publishes your books, the author has to do the majority of marketing themselves. Over the years, I have discovered what works and what doesn’t, but I’m still learning. I’ve thrown a lot of money at the marketing conundrum and wish, going in, I had taken a calmer, more thoughtful approach.”

Even though there are frustrations, Young is surprised by how much he loves self-publishing, particularly because he can work on his own timetable. With traditional publishers, he says, “it might take years before [he] got an offer, and years after that for the book to come out. There are none of these limitations with independent publishing. If there is nothing gained by waiting, then why wait?”

We asked Young what self-publishing tips he would offer other indie authors:

Make a Plan

"Writing has to be done for the love of the craft."
“Have goals and be realistic about them. You can always overachieve as you go. Keep telling yourself that what you’re doing is part of a plan, and as long as you keep at it steadily, you’re moving in the right direction.”

Assemble a Good Team

“Independent authors/publishers like myself juggle writing—the solitary endeavor—with the very un-solitary process of interacting with artists, editors, and PR agents. There is really no 'self' about it anymore. It’s a team effort, much like any small press. Assemble a good team. Know your strengths and rely on your team to know theirs.”

Write Because You Love It

“Know that you would write whether anyone paid you or not. Don’t worry too much about book sales. Writing has to be done for the love of the craft. Treat it as a business, too, but know that you write for the sake of writing, not the money."