Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Ode to Being Indie

It's been roughly seven months since I decided to publish a test novella as an indie. Most of what I've learned has been helpful with my traditionally e-published books, as well.  Things such as the importance of writing a good blurb, promoting responsibly (no spamming) and being reactive to the market.

 It hasn't all been roses though, so I figured I'd share in case anyone else is on the fence.

PROS

In indie publishing, you have a measure of control that is almost addictive. If my sales are lackluster I can change my cover (imagine asking for that at a traditional publisher!), tweak my blurb or even change the title. I recategorized Teasing Trent and it immediately hit some of the sub-category bestseller lists, something none of my other books have ever done. Win!

I've noticed a lot of epubs put their books in one big "Romance" or "Erotica" category which means the book will never trend on a sub-list (such as "Romance - Contemporary" or "Romance - Fantasy/Futuristic"). So, recently I sent emails asking some of my publishers to recategorize the books I have with them.

I was actually told by one that they can't place the book in anything other than a general category (but indie's can put them there? Huh?) and just flat out told by another that they don't want to change it.

o_O

Teasing Trent has been on several sub-lists and it's always an amazing boost for sales. The more lists your book is on, the more people see it = the more people buy it. Why wouldn't you want to take advantage of that? It's the easiest way to get more visibility there is.  Just put the books in the right place!
 
Then there's the stats. The sweetly seductive publisher panel in Kindle's KDP portal and BN's PubIt!  Since I'm tracking sales in real time, I immediately know whether my above mentioned changes had an effect. Change the title, score!  Upload a new cover, score! Surely you see how this is addictive.  There should be medication for this, really.

Speaking of stats, that's the other thing that's interesting.  Sales have only gone up (From 53 sales in month one to 313 sales in month six).  Now, I'm not setting the world on fire but at my epubs, I got the majority of sales in month one and then very little after that. I have no idea how long it will last but I've already beaten what a longer (higher-priced) story made at a top epub.

I'm good with that.

The biggest PRO of all is that I can put out cool stuff for the fans.  Casey's Night In  was something I wrote just because so many people wrote me emails about The Mirage Agency series.  I wanted to put it on the major platforms so people don't have to hunt for it.  BN has already got it for free and hopefully Amazon will price match it soon. I wasn't able to do that with my epubs.

CONS

In the midst of all my glee I sometimes forget to track just how much WORK it all is.  Gone are the days when I just write something and turn it over to someone else. Now I have to troll stock art sites for cover photos, find a freelance editor, arrange advertising and most time consuming of all - FORMAT THE THING. Because I am a perfectionist, I actually strip the manuscript down to plain text and then add in the html formatting from there. I actually care if the cover displays nicely next to the book stats on my Kindle when I click on it. I keep seeing books with random pictures or photos that look like candids of the author in place of where the cover should be.  Egads!!!  Also the book needs a working Table of Contents and proper chapter headings (otherwise I can't skip ahead and back by chapter on my Kindle).

HTML and CSS are not for the faint of heart.

Also, there's no one to blame if you fail.  I can't point to the crappy cover (Um, yeah I chose it) or the blurb that was changed after you turned it in or the title that was your third choice because the one you wanted was taken.  There's an expression that I love - "The cavalry isn't coming".   It's incredibly pertinent to indie publishing because here, YOU are the cavalry. No one's saving you but yourself.

Which is, frankly, kind of scary. 

THE POINT

Based on the above, I feel there are valid reasons to publish both ways. There are going to be times when I just plain don't feel like doing all of the above.  It's a heck of a lot of work and it's not 9 to 5 type work, either.  It's all-day, all-night, chained-to-your-computer, hubby-is-jealous-of-my-laptop work.

I don't want to discourage anyone because clearly, I ADORE it. I just want people to be aware of what they're in for. It's exhausting but it's also incredibly gratifying and the fact that I keep 70% of the money goes a long way to making up for those long nights.

I can buy a lot of coffee with that 70%.


Here's to the cavalry,

Minx






4 comments:

Bev Pettersen said...

Thanks for sharing, Minx. Love what you said "the cavalry isn't coming". So true, especially the time-consuming part, but gosh it's fun!

Minx Malone said...

Hi Bev,
It is definitely fun! I never thought that the entire process of "book creation" would be as addicting as it is.

Dr. Debra Holland said...

Minx,

I agree that self-publishing is fun--seeing the sales, receiving fan letters, and that ch-ching when Amazon deposits a nice check into your bank account. :)

Self-publishing hasn't been as much work for me because I had someone else do my covers and formatting. It wasn't expensive and was WELL worth the time it would have cost me.

Norah Wilson said...

Wonderful post, Minx! And I hear you on the time-consuming part. But isn't it sooo worth it?