Those of us within the Writing Community of Twitter, as well as the writing community as a whole, transcend myriad categories that vary depending on the stage of our writing careers, whether we’re independent authors or signed to an agent and/or publisher, genre – you name it.
At the moment, I am an independent author. In my specific situation, because it can differ for other indy writers, this means that I am solely responsible for everything. Let me take you through the process. Though I’ll provide a list, please don’t assume that this is the specific order of things or that only one of these things is being done at a time.
- Obviously, I write my own novels. That should go without saying, but just in case it comes into question.
- Once the novel is finished, or even while it’s still in progress, I do the editing. Yes, I edit my own novels, as I mentioned in a previous post. This is not something that I take lightly, nor is it something that I do solely as a means of maintaining full creative control (as some are wont to do). I do my own editing because I, at the beginning of my career as a writer, cannot afford $500+ for a professional to do it. I didn’t go into this lightly. I have studied books on editing and constantly refer to them for guidance.
- At some point during the above creative processes, I start the concept design for the cover.
- For Duality, I started discussing my intentions for the cover with a friend before I was even halfway done with the novel. I had a visual of what I wanted, yet I lack the ability to draw so much as a stick figure. I also knew the unlikelihood that what I wanted could be found in a stock photo. Also, obviously, I couldn’t hire anyone. Luckily for me, I’d become friends with someone with great artistic talent and approached him to see if he’d be interested in working with me. Thankfully, he was.
- Vitae entailed a different process altogether, based on some of the lessons learned after Duality was published with its original, amazing cover. I realized that the cover for Duality might have been a little “over the head” of a potential reader with only seconds to decide which book to buy – hence my somewhat sad decision to change Duality’s cover six months after publication. With Vitae, I decided upon an intriguing, eye-catching photo for the cover that would accomplish what I wanted…hopefully without putting anyone off. But, visual aspects don’t only consist of a photo. You need a clear layout, intriguing font, AND a clever blurb on the back of the novel. Yes, I take care of all that, too!
- Ads. No, I do not outsource my ads. I haven’t paid anyone to do any portion of my social media. I haven’t hired the next best thing on Fiverr to create a campaign. I haven’t even paid Facebook Ads. Let me stress – there is nothing wrong with anyone who chooses to do any combination of these things. There are those who are willing to do it on your behalf for reasonable fees. I taught myself how to do a good bit of it myself as a cost-cutting measure. I create my own ads and schedule them for blasts on Twitter and I construct my own book trailers.
- So, now you have a completed and edited manuscript and a stellar cover. Now what? Well, it’s not going to format itself! As an independent author, formatting a novel into both paperback and e-book formats is your responsibility and the process entailed depends on who you’ve chosen to distribute the work. Format the book, make sure the dimensions are correct so that the spine isn’t wonky and the font isn’t spilling off any of the edges. Do multiple previews. Buy an author copy to make sure that the formatting is on par. And, I need to stress this part: Just because it looks good on-screen or within the e-book preview doesn’t mean that the finished product will look exactly like that. I have made more than a handful of post-publication changes because the actual in-my-hands finished product was different than the way it looked online. In other words – you may want to buy the author copy ahead of time before you actually publish.
Now, I’ve listed five main things. Those are just the bits I could think of off the top of my head, but by no means encompass everything that an independent writer does to get his or her body of work from Point A to point B and even beyond. Just about everyone has heard the adage, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” However, the full quote is actually, “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one.”
We have to be that jack of all trades as an indy author. Most of us aren’t at the point yet to be able to rely solely on talent as a writer. Would I like to relinquish control of one or more of the above aspects? Hell, yes! I would love to focus my full attention on writing my novels and then hand them off to someone else. I would love a relay team. “Okay, the book is done. Run it over to the editor and, while you do that, I can discuss cover concepts with the artist. While they work on that, let’s set up a meeting to finalize the distribution contracts and get Marketing on standby for the ads. Oh – you might as well get my Social Media Manager in on the meeting with Marketing to make sure that everyone’s on the same page! Hey, wait – what’s my schedule for guest blogging, and with whom will I be interviewing in the coming weeks? What’s going on with the book tour?”
See what I mean?
What’s great, though – and again, I’m speaking for myself – is that I love every single step. I am exhilarated and encouraged by it. If you look at the very first book trailer I created and then look at the one I made most recently, the improvement is visible. I am learning. I am growing. I hope to at some point master many trades – particularly as I quest to expand my distribution and get my name out there even more. I am grateful for the opportunity.
Did I mention that I do all of this while working full-time outside of the home? While all indy authors deserve to be celebrated for the amazing things they do to get their work out there, I have to give a special round of applause for those of us who do it while caring for family and maintaining traditional work.
I could go more into what it takes to schedule what is the equivalent of two full-time schedules, but I don’t think it’s even necessary. You are fully capable of taking everything I’ve said here in this post and adding it all up yourself. You know exactly what it entails.
I think that in my next post I’ll go over the tools I use for promotions. I could have detailed them in the particular section that discussed ads, but the length of this post says that I should refrain. I’m hoping that you found this useful, though, and feel free to email me if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.