I am lucky to be joined by Glenn Muller from Ontario, Canada. Author of Torque, a crime thriller novel, Glenn traversed the self-published path to publication, and assures us that just because it has the word ‘self’ or ‘independent’ in it, independent publishing does not mean you do not have to do it alone with his introduction to self-publishing.
We Are Not Alone.
Old notions die hard, and the one that self-publishing and vanity presses are two sides of the same coin lingers on. Yet writers have known for some time that digital technology has created a paradigm shift in the publishing industry, and those willing to embrace the new tools have found success away from the traditional path to publication.
Most authors like to work alone but the smart ones realize that, at some point, they will need help with their masterpiece. This point has always been the fork in the road between the traditional publisher and the vanity press; authors fortunate enough to attract the attention of an agent, editor, or publishing house would benefit from professional resources while the rest would have to send their best package to a printing house, pay for a trunk load of copies, and rely on family and friends to buy a product that often lacked professional polish.
That fork is still in the road but, thanks to the Internet, another path called self-publication has appeared that gives authors easy access to a range of editors, cover artists, proof-readers, publicists, reviewers, and readers. Having successfully traveled that path, I can confidently say that we are no longer alone in our endeavours.
Self-publishing is not solo-publishing; it is a route to publication where the author maintains the most control over the book they have worked so hard to create. Although numerous pages could be written on the pros and cons of self vs traditional publishing, this article is about the support available to DIY writers. Similar to company directors, these authors hand-pick the people they’d like to work with and there is no limit to the number of people they may ask to join their team.
Once a writer has wrestled their scribbling into reasonably cohesive chapters, it is time for another opinion. While family and friends may be willing to help, it is too early in the game for them – you need more qualified eyes, and for that I suggest a writer’s forum where you can post some or all of your book for others to read and make suggestions for improvement. You can make some excellent friends and contacts, here, and if you play your cards right (return the favour), you can get some or all of your previewed work edited for free. If the work needs a deeper massage, editors for hire are just a click away.
After heeding the editorial comments and polishing your work, the next phase is publication. The e-book publisher and distributor, Smashwords, has an excellent free tutorial on how to format your manuscript for e-book publication, and their simple to use software makes it easy to attain a professional appearance. If you are not able to create your own cover art, there are plenty of graphic artists willing to help at very reasonable cost. For physical books, CreateSpace is another free resource with plenty of support available.
Once you have your manuscript formatted, there are many online retailers – Smashwords, Kobo, Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, etc. – who will not charge for distributing your book; they just take a percentage from each sale and send you royalty cheques.
Then comes the final, and some say the toughest, phase. Marketing. While traditional publishers will have a budget for promoting a book, it is still up to the author to do most of the legwork. This is where family and all of your friends, old and new, come into play. You can pay for publicity in various forms, but the best promotion is word of mouth and, here, social media rules. By now, you will have made friends with many other writers, editors, etc. and by promoting each other’s work through media like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, the self-published author effectively expands their potential audience.
So, the next time you see a book labeled as “self-published” keep in mind that the author not only worked extremely hard to bring it to life, but did so with support from a network of skilled and motivated people. We are passionate about what we do, and we are not alone.
After nine years on the road, driving instructor Chas Fenn knows how to avoid accidental death - it's the intentional kind that gives him trouble. The intentional kind is the seductive Brittany Reis who plans to carve a niche in the street drug trade with a new hallucinogen. When her lab technician suddenly dies, Reis is forced to partner with an aging con man who sees the opportunity as a last chance for a big payoff.