Self-Publishing Tips for Indie Authors

 These days, you can barely click a link without hearing something about ebooks, self-publishing, or indie authors. Along with all the other decisions and jobs a writer undertakes, this one is a big one. I still don't know which way I'll go when my manuscript is ready, so I figure it's a good idea to stay on top of what's happening.

And there's a lot happening.

A new title.
There's something new. Authors who start out putting their own book up for sale and later accepting print deals are now called 'hybrid authors'. Agent Kristin Nelson explains what's going on with hybrid authors.

One of those authors is Nelson's own Hugh Howey, the author of Wool. Nelson (and many other agents) courted him. A nice way for things to work out, right? Check out Howey's own account of how things went down.
Another author enjoying great ebook sales that led to a print deal is Jennifer L. Armentrout, with her book Wait for You. Forbes published an article on her, titled The Fast-Track to Making a Million Dollars from Writing Books.

A new perception.
There used to be quite a stigma attached to those who took on publishing themselves. There's still some stigma, but not like it used to be. In fact, indie authors are increasingly proving that they don't need publishers at all--or might accept them on their own terms. Check out this post called Self-Publishers: The New Generation of Cool Kids.

Even the Big Six (or five) are discovering huge sales in the ebook market. Lucrative electronic sales were documented by Publishers Weekly.

A new opportunity.

Many authors are discovering the benefits of publishing single short story titles and anthologies in ebook form. Author and writing teacher James Scott Bell promotes this idea. He's got a nice list of traditionally published books, but found extra money by publishing his short story titles. His article (which includes some great plotting info for short story writers) will encourage writers who have found little success querying literary journals. And speaking of literary journals, it was fascinating to read how one writer used an actual New Yorker story to query literary journals. His results are worth reading in The New Yorker Rejects Itself: A Quasi-Scientific Analysis of Slush Piles.

A new perspective.
Pricing ebooks remains a murky area. With hundreds of thousands of individuals making their own decisions, as opposed to a handful of long-standing publishers, there's a huge number of different ideas on pricing. One idea is to offer the first book in a series free, in order to entice readers to take a chance on a new author. Writer Jordyn Redwood examines this idea in Is Free Always Good? On the other hand, some authors believe that free or low-cost pricing devalues the product. Dean Wesley Smith makes some pertinent points on the subject in The New World of Publishing: Book Pricing from Another Perspective. Definitely worth some consideration.

So where do you fall? On stigma, pricing, perception, etc. Is the idea of going the indie route attractive to you? Have you already taken the plunge?

Free Resources from Author Alton Gansky

I'm all about free resources. And when I stumble upon an author who shares what they've learned, I like to share those tips with you guys. 

You may not have heard of Alton Gansky. He's published dozens of novels and non-fiction books. He has co-written more. He runs his own writer's conference each year. 

One of the things Gansky offers is 'Writer's Talk' interviews. He chats with other authors, agents, and publishers, giving writers great information they might only get at writing conferences. Check out his YouTube channel for the complete list.

But that's not all Gansky provides. He offers a series of screencast videos where he explains how he uses certain software, and gives other tips for writers. I love his voice, and his calm, teaching manner. Here are a few I found interesting:

Google for Writers: several different Google applications that make a writer's life (and research) much easier. Do you use them?

Pitching Agents & Editors: how to pitch your project in a conference setting--great principles if you're gearing up for a pitch session!

Organize your novel: Gansky explains how to use a free online application called Trello to keep track of your novel's details and structure.

What are page proofs? What writers can expect when they receive page proofs (also called galleys) and what to do with them.

Manuscript formatting: How to format your manuscript in standard form before sending it off to an agent or editor.

Tight Writing: helping writers to look for what clutters manuscripts and invites rejection. Have you ever heard of 'pleonasm'? You'll want to watch for it in your writing.

Kindle Singles: for writers with shorter works, great information on the hows & whys of loading them onto Amazon, and he also demonstrates another platform called Atavist, where readers can choose to read or listen to the book.

What authors do you rely on for writing information?

Storytelling Tips from the Pros

 Wouldn't you love to see the credits roll--and there's your name? Most writers would consider it a dream come true to see their name on a book, much less on the big (or small) screen. What can make the possibility more likely?

Study what your readers are watching.

What shows are the ones talked about on Facebook (the virtual water cooler)? What movies generate the biggest crowds? Which dvds get snapped up the moment they hit the shelves?

These are the shows that become a writer's text book. No, they don't do everything perfectly, but they're doing something that grabs viewers and encourages them to spread the word.

It would be a nice thing to happen to your book, right?

So I've done a little of the work for you. Here are links to posts where others have analyzed what works for particular movies and TV shows. If you want more, just do a search for "storytelling tips from _____", and you'll find lots more. 

one of their own examines what makes them successful.
find out what a 'mcguffin' is, and how it can transform your plot.
This one is a book. The writers of the show carried on an email correspondence, and compiled their conversations in a book called The Writer's Tale. Fascinating.
And may the odds of a bestseller be ever in your favor.

Which movies or shows do you cull writing tips from?

Photo courtesy of Stock.xchng

Free Online Storage

The always-encouraging Jim Maxwell.
My dad is amazing. He's always passing on great ideas that help in my writing endeavors. Having been a journalism major, he loves the idea that several of his children and grandchildren write. So he definitely wants us to save our words in a safe place.

As writers, one of our biggest tasks is getting the words onto the page. But the next job is to make sure they stay there. Back in January I wrote a post about backing up writing, which listed several ways to get the job done.

Dad first encouraged me to sign up for Dropbox. It's an easy way to make sure my novel is saved automatically every few minutes, and it's free. Click here if you want to give it a try.

Just the other day, Dad sent me another great link. SkyDrive offers free online storage with greater amounts of cloud storage that's easy to access from anywhere. Users get up to 7GBs to ensure documents (and your amazing manuscripts) are safe and easy to access from any computer (and devices, too).

Quite a few companies have joined the online storage market. Many offer a certain amount of space for free, with paid options for more space. Check out this comparison chart to see how SkyDrive stacks up against Google Drive, Apple iCloud, and Dropbox. The nice thing is that you can take advantage of the free space from all these vendors--just be sure you know what you've stored where. Oh, and make sure that's not the only place you've saved your documents.

And after you've written the words, and saved the words, it's time to share those words. Whether in a critique group, with your family, with an agent or editor, or online to the world. Don't just keep them holed up in the cloud.

Do you spend more time writing, saving, or sharing your words?

Allergy update: So many of you have been so kind (and patient with my sporadic blogging!) during this transition into feeding my son with multiple allergies (if you missed the story, you can read it here). Things are getting better, but I'm sure getting a workout in the kitchen. This morning I've got three crockpots of different soups going, and I pulled three veggies from the dehydrator. On tap today is making 'gummies' and snack bars, and perhaps some cookies. Maybe I'll get to write in between!


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