Monday, March 18, 2013

Guest Post: The Importance of Quality in Indie Publishing

Please help me welcome today's guest blogger, Steven Ramirez:
Okay, so you’ve got this killer idea for a book. You’ve always known that deep down you are a writer, and that you want to make your living putting words on paper that other people will pay to read. You fire up Word and bang away. In a few months you have ninety thousand words that you can’t wait to share with the world, so you decide to put it out there.

But wait! You still need a cover. Hey, you’ve got a buddy that’s pretty good with PowerPoint. You ask him to “throw something together” for you. After a day or two he sends you the file. Looks pretty good, you think. Now you’re set. Your little heart is racing as you create an Amazon KDP Account and click on the “Add new title” button. You’re nearly there.

You fill out all the fields, set your price at $9.99, upload the cover and book, and PUBLISH! In a day or two you receive an email saying that the book is live. Whoo-hoo! You are now a self-published author!

Actually, you’re not. You’re just some person who threw something up on Amazon that no one—besides your mother and maybe your cousin—will buy. Why? Because you didn’t’ take the time, effort and money to produce a work of quality—a book that customers cannot wait to get their hands on.

Writing Isn’t Enough
I’m not saying you didn’t write a great book. You may be a talented individual with lots to say in a way that is fresh and imaginative. But without a good editor, you risk having people think you are lazy. I say this from experience. I’ve been writing for many years, but I still need an editor—every writer does. So you should budget for that.

A Good First Impression
Don’t forget that your title is out there along with around a million others. Customers have lots of choices, and they’ve been trained to know what’s good. If they see your cover and it sucks, you’ve pretty much made the decision for them not to buy your book.

Think about how you buy books. Isn’t the cover the first thing that attracts you? Sure, you want to “click to look inside.” But you won’t even get that far if the cover is no good. So hire a professional cover designer.

Formatting Counts
Another thing to consider is the actual formatting. Now, there are many ways to accomplish this. Many writers I know start out with a Word document, which is what I do. And we’re all pretty much aware of the fact that you can’t just upload it and expect to get a nicely formatted eBook. There is a fair amount of work involved.

More and more people are turning to Scrivener. I haven’t tried this program yet, but according to Joanna Penn, it rocks. Be sure to check it out.

Yet another way to go is to purchase a book template from Book Design Templates. They have templates for both eBooks and print. Or you could just hire someone to create the eBook for you. People like JW Manus and Guido Henkel.

Anything Else?
You should make sure that your eBook contains a table of contents. That’s just common courtesy. You should also ensure that the description is not only accurate, but compelling. If you can, include a few quotes from any early reviews you might have received.

Be realistic about the pricing. $9.99 for an eBook by an unknown author is most likely not going to fly. And $.99 makes you look like a hack. Take a look at other titles in your category and price accordingly. After a while, you will have a pretty good feeling about what is reasonable.

If you are doing a paperback version, make sure to go with services that other authors use and recommend. Two I can think of right away are CreateSpace and Lightning Source. And if you’re going the print route, make sure that the formatting is flawless. Remember, the goal is to put your book alongside other paperbacks from major publishers, and have them be indistinguishable in terms of quality. Since you’ve never done this before, you might also consider hiring a book shepherd like Joel Friedman to help you through the process.

Finally, don’t forget to put up a professional-looking author profile on Amazon. And make sure that your headshot looks good.

I’ll leave you with this last thought, something to remember each time you get ready to hit the “Publish” button: Indie Publishing isn’t hard. Indie Publishing something good is hard. Remember this, and you will have a much better chance of making your writing dreams come true.

About the Author
Steven Ramirez is the author of a number of short stories including his latest, Walker. He is planning to publish his new zombie novel, Tell Me When I’m Dead, this summer. You can find out more about Steven at his website, “Glass Highway.”

1 comment:

  1. GREAT advice!
    I've been researching like crazy and know these things but a reminder now and again is very helpful. Thank you for providing links, I'm going to start clicking away now...