When I received my first publishing contract I was ecstatic! I think I actually jumped up and down and screamed, “Whoo-hoo!” This is extraordinary behavior for someone as mellow as I am. I was really fortunate to find a publisher quickly. Little did I know just how long I was going to have to wait to see my novels released to the public. And then I waited, and I waited some more. The wait was nearly two years for one novel. Eleven months for the other one. Well, I can’t express to you just how difficult it was having no control over when my work would see the light of day. With the growing independent publishing market available 24/7 all I could do was imagine what it would be like to release my own work. Which is exactly what I’m doing now.
Here are a few things I’ve learned. If you’re considering self-publishing, or are just interested in the industry, I hope this information helps.
Writing and getting published is a long process, whether you are independent or traditional. There is no rushing the job when you’re creating manuscripts with 50K-100K words. There are too many steps to publishing that can’t be ignored. Keep reading and I’ll explain a few of them.
Please note: There are piles of books written on these subjects. If you’re venturing into indie-pub read a lot of books and talk to as many informed people as you can. It will save you hours of heartache in mistakes made.
Pros To Becoming Your Own Publisher
The power is in your hands ~ as is your money! Royalty rates are always better when you cut out the middle-man.
Choosing your own cover art, formatting, setting your own price. I could probably be classified as a bit of a control freak. I enjoy running my own business and working alone, so self-publishing fits my needs.
Timeframe – Not waiting for a publisher to release your work. Yes, publishers can release a novel in 3-6 months. Do they? From what I’ve seen, NO. A typical book release can be from 6 months to 2 YEARS. I waited nearly 2 years from the time I submitted a manuscript to release day. Honestly, it was torture. As a self-published author, you get to control when your next release happens. However, there is a lot of planning and things happening behind the scenes before a new title hits the market. Just because you CAN publish your own work, doesn’t mean you’re ready. I highly recommend you read a lot of books about self-publishing and marketing before releasing your work into the world. And I think I’m repeating myself here, but it’s for good reason.
Cons To Going Indie
You’re all alone when it comes to marketing.
I’ve spoken with many traditionally published authors that feel they do 99% of their own marketing anyway, so having a publisher doesn’t guarantee that you receive much help spreading the word about your novel. This was my own personal experience. I’ve also talked to many authors who love their publisher and receive marketing perks such as:
Magazine (Ezine) ads with their book cover on it, review requests, tweets and shares on social media, spotlights and listings on the publisher’s website, and various ads at places like conferences. If your book gets picked up by a big publisher, you may get your books on real bookshelves. Many authors dream of this moment. Personally, this hasn’t been a huge deal for me because I do most of my shopping online anyway.
Contracts – There are probably some really fair and well written publishing contracts out there. There are also some pretty bad ones. Most contracts are written in the publisher’s favor. Please do your homework on this subject! Have experienced persons look it over for you, or hire a knowledgeable attorney to read and review the terms. My two cents: make sure you have a publishing date and a reasonable way out of the contract if things go awry.
Having a publisher behind your books can give you some clout in the industry. Indie is growing and gaining respect, but there are still some people that want to know who your publisher is, and if you don’t have one, they aren’t interested.
Upfront expenses – Here’s a rundown of basic expenses to self-publish. For some of you, this may be too much for your budget and need a publisher to cover the initial expenses. For others, this could be pocket change, but it’s something to consider. These are the things a publisher should pay for.
Editing– This could easily be your highest expense. PLEASE do not skip the editing! This is vital in being a successful indie author. (And, please take note: having someone proofread your manuscript is not considered editing.) $350 – $3500. I know this range is huge, but I did a ton of research and this is what I personally found for a professional editor for a 100k word manuscript. Also, editors may do 1 pass on your novel or 2-3. Make sure you know what you’re paying for. If you can trade or have a very close friend or family member help you, more power to you, and more money in your pocket.
Cover Art – $50-$500 Book covers sell books, so make sure it looks GREAT!
Book Formatting – You need your manuscript formatted for ebooks AND for paperback (if you want your book in print.) It will cost about $200 to have someone do both. I’ve seen quotes for $40-$50 an hour, which still comes out at about $100-$200.
You can also learn to format yourself. It’s not terribly difficult, but it does take a lot of time to learn. I found that using Jutoh.com for ebooks saved me a lot time and was well worth the $40.
ISBN Numbers: Free – $125 for one isbn. Check out Bowker for more information.
Each of these topics can easily be their own blog post. These are only some of the highlights. Don’t be fooled if someone tells you becoming an independent author is easy. It’s not easy, but it is possible! Weigh the pros and cons for yourself. Do your research and then decide if this is the direction you would like to take.
Always remember that content is king! Your final product must be desirable to someone if you want to sell books. I’m jumping into the self-publishing pool, armed with knowledge, a small army of helpful friends, and a lot questions. I’ll probably be in way over my head, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can stay above water and it will be worth it! Who knows, maybe I’ll go hybrid next year — that is — having some traditionally published novels and some indie novels.
If you would like to share your own experiences or publishing wisdom with me, I’d love to hear it. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments or send me a message via my website at JodyAKessler.com. Wishing you all the best in 2015 & hope you’re reading a great book! Hey, maybe it’s even an indie book! ~ Jody
New Release from Jody A. Kessler – Blog Tour & Giveaway!
Both novels in this award-winning series will be on sale for only .99 cents for a limited time.
Supernatural boundaries will be crossed as Angel of Death, Nathaniel Evans, risks his eternal soul to save the one he loves, the paranormally gifted and nature-loving, Juliana Crowson.
While working with a new client, Nathaniel finds out that pissing off a demon-wielding warlock in order to help a suicidal teen with misplaced sexual tendencies may be the last thing he ever does as an angel. Unable to stand aside, Juliana’s involvement in Nathaniel’s new case quickly develops into a misadventure with gun-toting bikers, table dancing, and a shamanic exorcism performed by her temperamental Native American friend, Chris Abeyta.
Can Nathaniel and Juliana’s love endure blood-letting rituals in the forest while helping a terrified teen find the will to live, or will fate and the rules of the afterlife tear them eternally apart?
Read an Excerpt from the Novel
I reach for her left hand and she lets me take it. “I only want to keep you safe. Is that all right?”
She bites her lower lip and then looks up at me. “You can’t be everywhere all the time, can you?”
“No. But for you, I wish I could be.”
“Certain things are out of our control.”
“That doesn’t mean I have to like it, but I know. You asked me what the matter was earlier. This is it. I realized anything could happen to you and I can’t control it. We have just started to know each other. It terrified me, and now this.” I glance down at her red finger.
“Nathan. I, you…we just have to stay in the moment. This,” She holds up her index finger showing me the swollen side and the drying blood, “is a perk of my job. Not a deadly accident. If anything does happen to me, or you, at least we knew each other. Even for a short time. Right?”
“Getting injured on the job is not a perk, it’s a hazard,” I argue.
Our relationship is just starting, so no. A short time is not good enough for me. When I’m with Juliana I can only imagine eternity together, not minutes. The way she stares at me, with caring eyes, and her kissable mouth, it’s so innocent and alive. It makes me want to lock her away in a cell with both of us inside and never see any threat or harm come near her again.
“I want you, Juliana. I want to know you. I want to see your face in the morning light and be with you until you fall asleep at night. I want to hold your hand as we walk in these woods, not just today, but always. What I don’t want, what I can’t live with, is a collection of fading memories and a well full of regret.” I watch her closely looking for any shift of uneasiness as I pour out my soul to her.
She looks up at me. Her face is open and the honesty I see echoes my own.
“We will know each other,” she assures me, and then she seals her words by leaning forward on her tiptoes and brushing her perfect pink lips over mine.
About the Author
When Jody isn’t navigating the terrain of her imagination and writing it down, she can be found exploring the wilderness of Colorado with her family, or in the kitchen baking cookies & brownies – and then trying not to eat them all. She’s passionate about continuing to learn and reads anything and everything that catches her interest. Jody is a full time mom, a Reiki Master, and has taught Hatha yoga for over a decade.
Jody’s debut novel, Death Lies Between Us, is the winner of RomCon’s Readers’ Crown award for best Paranormal Romance in 2014. She is currently working on a historical time travel series set in Montana in the 1860’s. The first book in the series, The Night Medicine, will be published in March 2015.