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Posts Tagged ‘Indie Publishing’

Recently, I was contacted by Debra Butterfield to do an interview on her website. She asked a series of questions about indie publishing and I enjoyed the exchange. I am posting the interview below. Here’s  a direct connection to Debra’s website.

Thanks, Debra, for this opportunity to talk about the Indie Publishing Journey.

Indie publishingMaybe you are struggling with this very question right now. I hope today’s interview with author Janice Dick gives you some insight into making your decision.

Janice, what was the impetus behind your decision to go indie?

Two things:
(1) my first three books are now officially OOP (out of print) after a run of about fourteen years. I need to re-release them.
(2) my fourth book, print version, shipped to me from CreateSpace, and I asked myself why I was paying someone else to do this for me when I could probably learn to do it myself.

What did you do to get back the rights to your books?

As I said, the first three were OOP, and the publisher sent me official release papers. I simply requested my rights back from the publisher of the fourth book and he granted them. No paperwork (no matter how often I asked) but I saved the emails. I also have a couple more manuscripts waiting for readers.

Having said that, most of my previously published books are still up on Amazon. I’m not sure why, because I have the remaining copies of the trilogy and the fourth is POD, and should no longer be printing.

I would assume those copies on Amazon are used copies that booksellers offer via Amazon. Though I don’t have a definitive answer to that issue.

Obviously there have been some problems in this journey. Can you tell us what some of the struggles have been along the way?

Janice Dick

Award-winning author Janice Dick

Learning on so many levels. I continue to learn the craft of writing, and have confidence that my skills are gradually improving. I use those skills to re-edit my previously published works.

Aside from that, there is the issue of cover design. I am not a visual artist in even the broadest sense of the term, so I had to look for an expert. I tried a free design-it-yourself site, but the outcome was so-so, and we know covers sell books.

Then I tried a site called Fiverr, which worked for my publishing logo (not essential, but something I wanted), but not so great for cover design. Some writers love it. I rated the designer 3 stars out of 5, and he messaged me that I had mistakenly not given him 5 stars and I should go back and fix that! Doesn’t seem right, in my opinion.

I am excited to say that I found a real designer I can afford who has not only skills and experience, but is known to me and lives relatively nearby. In a nutshell, this was a miracle. The Lord apparently wants me to have an acceptable cover, so He stepped in to assign me a visual artist.

If you are a Christian author, make sure to pray about your work, because God cares, and miracles do happen. I think He often takes pity on my feeble efforts, but I’m okay with that.

I haven’t reached the formatting stage yet, but that’s next. Right now I’m concentrating on editing. I love that part, and receive excellent suggestions from my local writing group, as well as from a writer friend with amazing insight and the willingness to offer honest critique. What I’m really saying is that I can’t at this point afford a professional editor. I know comments will be coming about that, but it’s the place I’m in financially.

Another area that I’m realizing the great importance of is marketing. I’m an introvert. I just want to write the stories. But when an author goes indie, marketing is part of the package.

To encourage others of you on this journey, there are many books—and good ones—about marketing your own books. Many are free to download, and others are relatively inexpensive. Just search online.
Right now my focus is on learning SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Amazon uses certain algorithms, which are apparently beyond the grasp of mere mortals, to sell books. No one really knows how these work, but we keep trying to understand/guess at it. Categorizing our books correctly is key. We want to tap into popular categories that readers are searching, but we also want to tweak our categorization so our books are not lost in a broad and widely populated category.

What have been some of the blessings along the way in this journey?

I think being vulnerable has been a blessing. I can identify with others who are on the indie journey. I can’t tell them the full story because it isn’t finished yet, but I am sharing my journey on my blog as it progresses. So many people have helped me, and I want to help others too, in whatever capacity I’m able. I’ve made a lot of great connections through this experiment.

What advice would you give someone considering independent publishing?

Read about it, research, ask for help from people who have done it/are doing it. My greatest encouragement came at a recent writing conference. I participated in a workshop on indie publishing presented by a 79-year-old gentleman. He said if he could do it—and he and his wife regularly self-publish excellent books—then anyone can do it. I believe you, Bryan Norford.

Are there resources (e.g. websites, books, etc.) you found to be helpful that you can share with our readers?

I belong to a Facebook group called Christian Indie Authors that is very helpful. Writers at all levels in the journey post their questions, answers, problems, solutions. They are willing to help someone who’s not as far along on the path.

As I stated above, there are tons of books available to give direction. Most of them are e-books, so they can be immediately downloaded and put to use. I will list a few: [links are to Amazon.ca; titles also available via Amazon.com]

Successful Self-Publishing by Joanna Penn (Free, includes video links.)
Indie Publishing Handbook by Heather Day Gilbert (Free, short.)
Self-Publishing Bootcamp Guide for Authors by Carla King (thorough, complete)
Self-Publishing Attack! The 5 Absolutely Unbreakable Laws for Creating Steady Income Publishing Your Own Books by James Scott Bell (only a buck or so, depending on where you live)

I actually have a list of about 50 e-books in areas referring to writing, publishing, and marketing. They are easily available.

Join groups, attend conferences and workshops, pay attention to email listserves that offer deals from time to time.

Readers, God bless as you consider and pursue independent publishing. You can do it.

Thanks for those great resources. I know Joanna Penn has been very successful with indie publishing and also has a blog. Another person I learned a great deal from concerning indie publishing is Joel Friedlander and his blog, The Book Designer.

I realize indie publishing isn’t for everyone, but it is an option well worth researching. Thank you, Janice, for sharing your journey with us.

Have you considered indie publishing? What helped you make your decision? Leave your comments below.

ABOUT JANICE DICK:

Janice L. Dick is an award-winning author of four historical fiction books, as well as many book reviews, inspirational writings, short stories, interviews and blogs. She lives with her husband on a farm on the Canadian prairies, where she continues to write under the tagline: Tansy & Thistle Press—faith, fiction, forum.

Connect with Janice at her website: www.janicedick.com
On social media via Facebook and Linked In

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“The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”

—Wayne Dick, my ever-patient and supportive husband

 (who may not be the originator of this quote)

www.morguefile.com

Last month I was full news about my new self-publishing imprint, acquiring a graphic artist for my covers, and updating my author photo. Among other things.

I haven’t made any giant leaps during the course of February, but I’m very happy with the latest cover proof, so that is a tremendous relief. I think that project went smoothly. Once I’ve finalized it, I’ll let you see the cover I’ve chosen.

The next step is to review my back cover copy, snag an ISBN and barcode (for which I’ve already acquired access through Library and Archives Canada), and get that onto the back of the cover.

I have opened an account with CreateSpace for the print copy of my book(s), and I will load the manuscript into that as soon as the cover is ready. Although, I could do that anytime and revisit when the cover is secured.

In my research, I’ve discovered that although CreateSpace is fine for my paperback books, I will need to use Kindle Direct Publishing for my digital copies. So I will need to create an account with KDP shortly. Please feel free to keep me accountable on what I’ve proposed to do this month.

A lot of time has gone into SEO—Search Engine Optimization— research this past month. I’ve discovered that it’s supremely important to study the genres and sub-genres in order to find the ones with the maximum leverage. I need to study genres used by books similar to mine and how well they are selling. I need to create not only keywords but keyphrases in order to optimize the sales potential. I’ve just taken a free online course by C.S. Lakin of LiveWriteThrive, which has been an informative and encouraging experience. Lakin is also offering a more in-depth course which can be accessed through her website.

Today I attempted to create an email list from my website/blog signup list. After bouncing back and forth from one to another of about eight open google sites, I closed the whole thing down in favor of maintaining my sanity for another day. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow when the little gray cells are rested. I’m a lateral thinker, so when every option opens to a dozen more options, I become quickly disoriented.

If you’d care to pray for me on this journey, I’d appreciate it. If you’ve walked this way before me, you will understand. If you are a step or two behind me, keep tracking. It’s a fantastic adventure. Keep in touch.

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“The good news about self-publishing

is you get to do everything yourself.

The bad thing about self-publishing

is you get to do everything yourself.”

Lori Lesko

I suppose it’s the price of freedom, this doing everything yourself. I’m still happy to be independent, but the weight of responsibility is heavy on my shoulders and I wake up at night worrying about it. But it also results in frequent and fervent prayers for help from the God who knows all, even technology.

Enough about theory. What happened this past month that furthered my indie career?

The first step in my personal plan was to acquire a logo and a tagline. Something to use on my book spines and inside page. I worked on this in November and December of 2015. After trying about fifteen million ideas for a press name, all of which were already in use, I began to believe techy spyders had invaded my brain.

I finally settled on one that was truly original, and hired a designer from a far country to create the logo through an online company called Fiverr. It was relatively painless, and turned out okay. What was supposed to cost $5 (hence, Fiverr, Seven-oh-fiverr if you’re Canadian), actually came to $80 USD, but it was done. I then managed to design a simple business card with the various formats I’d paid for. It’s not perfect, but it serves the purpose and I can print as needed.

writerjan_2

Real Time Addition: I had scheduled this post several weeks ago, but decided to have another look at it before it goes live. So much has happened in the past few weeks, and I want to keep you up to date…

I found out from talking with various author friends, and from researching, that I needed to register my logo and tagline. It is essentially my business name. I spent more time than I had anticipated, but have now requested a search of this name, then reserved the name for a maximum of three months, in which time it needs to be registered.

I did that too, for a reasonable fee of just over $50 CDN. This  registers my business name for three years, and I will be notified when renewal comes due. Please note that I live in Saskatchewan, Canada. Provinces differ in their systems, as do countries.

Next step: the cover(s). I am not a visual artist by any stretch of the imagination, but I bravely tried a free design-it-yourself site and created a so-so cover in about five minutes. Then I remembered that covers sell books, and decided to explore another option.

I tried Fiverr next, but the designers were so diverse and many lacked proficiency in the English language. How would I effectively describe my expectations? I followed through with one, with unacceptable results. I think I prefer my own feeble attempt to what I received from him. That unfortunate venture cost me another $50 or so CDN. Lesson learned? I’m not sure.

Meanwhile, the God who uses ink (if I may borrow a phrase from the original Word Guild), intervened. I had queried about my covers to a designer I know who lives nearby and has both skill and experience. We emailed and I knew I did not have the funds to hire his design services. I have about eight covers queued up, and my book funds are insufficient for the lot. That’s when I jumped ahead on my own and tackled Fiverr, with previously stated results.

The following week the local designer contacted me and offered a deal I couldn’t resist. In short, it is a miracle. We met in person on Friday and shared ideas and expectations. I’m very excited. My word to you is this: if you are a Christian author, pray. God hears, He knows when we are pitifully inadequate for the task, He sends ideas and options, and sometimes He works miracles for us. Thank you, Lord.

Now there’s nothing to keep me awake at nights…except formatting. Sigh. My next report will be up March 8. Until then, keep pressing on, and praying.

P.S. I forgot to mention that I called a camera-proficient neighbor to update my author photo. It’s about time, after more than a dozen years. She offered her services pro-bono, but there are always ways of thanking people and thus acknowledging their skills.

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“The time has come,” the Writer said,

“To learn of many things:

Of logos—and covers—and marketing plans—

For Indie Publishing.”

(with apologies to Lewis Carroll fans everywhere)

I’ve been thinking about independent publishing for months, perhaps years, but have so far been unable to move beyond the thought stage. How can I stop “getting ready to get ready” and forge ahead? What’s stopping me?phone call

Fear.

Fear of missing something.

Where do I begin this journey? What must be in place before I start? What if I miss an important step? I’m an organized thinker, so I need all my ducks in a row before I begin. What if I cut the ties to traditional publishing and am left hanging?

Reminder: So what if I am left hanging? I can pick myself up and start again. I have many writer friends who have been generously helpful in the past and would no doubt provide encouragement.

Fear of not understanding the process.

There is a lot to learn when it comes to indie: thorough editing, cover design, ISBN procurement, formatting for every device in existence, uploading, permissions. The list is endless.

Reminder: I was blessed to attend the Fall Conference of InScribe Christian Writers Fellowship in Edmonton last September, and took a workshop by Bryan Norford on Independent Publishing. Bryan and his wife are both almost twenty years older than I am, and they are putting out books on CreateSpace all the time. I came away with the encouragement that if they can learn it, so can I, even if I’m not quite as sharp as they are.

Fear of disappointing my readers.

What if I don’t get my books out as soon as people expect them? What if they don’t sell as well as I hoped? What if my digital copy has blips?

Reminder: I’m in this writing business because I believe God has led me here. There will be times I learn from my mistakes—just like many others do—but nothing can keep me from doing a better job next time.

Fear of disappointing God.

This is the only issue that should really concern me. I can learn the ropes. I can ask for help. I can research. I can start again. The only way I will disappoint God is by not trying at all, letting fear paralyze me.

So on with the show. I’ve downloaded plenty of how-to books, I have my notes from Bryan’s workshop, I have indie friends, and the world is open before me. Let the games begin!

As I heard on a radio talk show recently, some of us suffer from “the paralysis of analysis,” and I plan to break the pattern. So I’ll see you back here next second-Tuesday—February 9—to let you know what’s happening.

 

 

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