Part of the Indie Author Series
Wouldn’t it be grand if we could do things perfectly the first time? No bad first dates, no awkward photos, no bad hair days. The reality is, sometimes things work well the first time around—sometimes...not so much.
My YA novel, The Boy Who Loved Fire, recently made its way into the real world. *gulp* It’s now in the hands of readers, which is thrilling and terrifying at the same time. As I move on from this project to the next, I’m reflecting on what lessons I learned from the process. Today I’ll share with you two lists: what I did right, and what I could do better next time.
What did I do right?
Studied those who’ve gone before me: I was an absolute rookie with no idea how to even begin. I searched for veterans of indie publishing, and soaked up their wisdom and expertise. In my opinion, the best place to start is Susan Kaye Quinn’s blog and her Indie Survival Guide. These resources gave me a starting point.
Hired a professional editor: My manuscript had been beta read. It had been edited twice by my agent. Still, I knew it wasn’t ready. I hired the fab editors at A Little Red, Inc. Bethany gave me a no-nonsense edit and helped me prep this book for prime time.
Hired a professional cover designer: Covers are so important. I wanted an eye-catching cover that could compete with a publisher’s cover. I was referred to J. Allen Fielder, who created a cover that I love. You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a professional cover. See my post Cover Design 101 for tips on how to work with a cover designer.
Learned how to format: You’ll also see this under Things I could do better next time. Formatting isn’t for everyone, but I was determined to learn the ropes. The Smashwords Style Guide teaches authors how to create a clean document. I’m glad I took the time to learn.
Uploaded ebooks well in advance of release date: By uploading the book over a month in advance, I was able to preview my documents online and fix glitches in all formats. I was able to buy my own book and scroll through it on my Kindle. I wasn’t worried about someone buying a funky copy, because I worked through the issues quietly.
Linked the release to something bigger than me: I’m very uncomfortable with shouting, “Me, me, me!” I linked my release to two worthy charities—Grossman Burn Center and Carousel Ranch—which are loosely connected to my book’s theme. I wanted to shout about my book simply so they could receive the proceeds from my first two days of sales.
What could I do better next time?
Formatting: There was a steep learning curve with formatting, and it took a lot of time. Next time around I’ll do it faster and with know-how. Formatting is definitely not for everyone!
Don’t obsess too much about perfection: I worried to much and too long about making things perfect. Once I got the editing, cover, and formatting right, I still fiddled with it for way too long. We want professional books for our readers, for sure, but once I got it right I needed to move on.
Secure guest blog spots sooner: Again, I waited to do this until I had everything just right. I could’ve secured dates further in advance.
Secure reviewers sooner: I realized too late that reviewers need ample time to set up the book in their queue and read it when they have the time. I didn’t do this soon enough, so I didn’t send out review copies. Hopefully that won’t hurt me too much.
As writers, we’re always learning and growing, right? Same with publishers. Indies are are running their own businesses, and will go through learning curves as well. Thankfully there are countless resources out there to help guide our way.
What do you think about both lists? Have you indie published? What did you do right the first time? What would you do differently next time? Please share!
The Boy Who Loved Fire is available now. For more information, or to stop by and say Hi, please visit Julie on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
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About The Boy Who Loved Fire
Santa Ana winds + matches = disaster. You’d think he would've learned that the first time he started a fire.
As he evades a determined arson investigator, Manny, a modern-day Scrooge, is visited by ghosts of the past, present, and future. He’s forced to witness the fate of his inadvertent victims, including Abigail, the scarred beauty who softens his heart. Manny must choose between turning around his callous, self-centered attitude, or protecting his own skin at the expense of anyone who gets in his way.