How Some Indie Publishers Got Started Their Way

I decided to ask some other Indie Authors if they would like to guest blog on this site.

Then I decided I had better answer the questions first, so others can get an idea of my path to publishing before they added their path to Indie Publish as a guest blog.

How Did You Get Started In Indie Publishing?

I got tired of waiting for my favorite authors to put out more books so decided to write my own stories while I waited. Then I uploaded one short story when Smashwords started and was surprised at the number of downloads, so edited my novels and put them up on Smashwords.

Of course, I did everything wrong, from covers to blurbs and everything in between, so I decided to learn all I could. Now years later, I am still learning how to write better stories, and how to market those stories, along with running a publishing business, but I am having fun.

Can You Recommend Steps For Beginner Authors?

I recommend reading Dean Wesley Smith’s Think Like a Publisher articles to understand the basics of publishing, and once you decide to start your own publishing business, purchase a step by step guide written for your own country which will include your country tax laws or pay an accountant for the correct way to set up your business to suit your needs.

I recommend reading other Indie writer web sites to see what other Indies are doing correctly to market their stories.

I recommend studying published top selling books or take courses to learn to write interesting blurbs, create appealing covers, the correct ways to format your interior layout text for both print and eBooks, and learn how to market and build your reader lists.

What Are Your Favorite Writing Programs And Why?

I use Dramatica to plot my novels, then export the text to a Microsoft Word document where I set up all the information needed for each scene, such as characters, conflict action, setting details, and the scene outcomes. Next, I look at the listed scenes and work out if I have the correct action beats mixed with emotional beats and humour beats.

Once I have my plot, still short on detail, I open a new word document and write my story from scene 1 onwards, referring to the plot document as a guide, while writing the story. I tend to let the characters and settings develop over the course of the story, but any major changes or details that occur while writing I update (usually copy and paste the description/summary) into the Plot document.

This way I can clearly see which scene the characters change, when they died or left the main action, what sub plot points I need to bring back into the story later, etc.

What Is Your Way Of Editing Your Stories?

I use macros to locate and remove all the words I tend to use too much, then look for passive sentences and rearrange the sentences to make them active.

I run spell check to make sure I have the correct Australian English spelling.

Do You Use Beta Readers And Where Did You Find Them?

Once I check the first draft included solutions for the main plot and all the subplots, I send my first draft to my beta readers.

I have learnt not to change any suggestions that will change the main story, but to add changes for any confused areas the beta readers found.

How Do You Format Your Ebooks And Print Books?

Once I change any plot points and other errors located by my beta readers, I save the updated draft file, add the front and back matter and copy the file to a Smashwords file and an Amazon file.

I create the index for the Smashwords doc and upload to Smashwords along with the cover file and the metadata, and wait for Smashwords to approve. If there are errors, I fix and upload the file again.

Once Smashwords approve, and it is sent to all the other sites I selected, I work on the Amazon document.

I use jEdit to create the html file using the steps outlined by Guido Henkel in Take pride in your eBook formatting or purchase his updated ebook “Zen of EBook Formatting” which helps a fellow Indie.

Once I check the html file is correct, I use calibre to create the epub and mobi files. I upload the mobi file to Amazon, and add the same cover file, blurb text and other meta data as I used on Smashwords.

I use the same html file I created for Amazon inside Scribus where I layout the interior of the print book and save as a pdf file to upload to Createspace.

All Easy Steps! 🙂

How Do You Create Your Covers?

I started out creating my own images but, if you look at my site, I did not have much success with them.

So I took an online course with Dean Wesley Smith learning to create better covers suitable for my genres. I would recommend the six week course to anyone. Since completing the course, I have been slowly updating my covers, even though I have more to do.

I now purchase images from Dreamstime artists and alter in Photoshop and save as a jpg file. I open Scribus and create the print book cover using the jpg image and add the text before I save as a pdf file ready for Createspace.

I grab the front only of the pdf file and save as a jpg image, resizing for my eBooks. Easy!

Do You Write Your Own Blurbs?

Yes, I write my own blurbs, but do make changes to improve as I learn more on writing blurbs. No doubt, I will continue to learn to write better blurbs and make more changes in the coming years.

Have You Set Up An Indie Publisher Business?

Yes, I set up Tift Publishing in Australia. I am slowing building my list of fiction and non fiction and will be opening Tift Publishing to offer publishing other Indie authors very soon.

Do You Actively Market Your Stories And How?

At this stage, I do not actively market, other than to announce new stories when they are added to the Distributor sites, on both my author site and Tift Publishing website.

I am studying the most effective ways to build an author list or newsletter list, and will soon have a free novella available to give away, with two more novellas in the same series for those who like my style of writing and genre.

Do You Have Any Tips Or Tricks To Share?

Yes, my tip would be to keep learning. I pick one area of writing or publishing where I lack confidence and learn everything I can about that area, then once I am confident of repeating the tasks in that area, I look for another area I need to improve.

At the moment I am learning to keep the reader deep in my stories, and how to effectively build my reader lists.

Another tip is to learn to research by using Google or Ask. There are many free articles with advice on all facets of publishing.

Can You List Any Mentors That Helped Your Indie Journey?

I have many mentors that helped me.

Holly Lisle’s two big courses, How to Think Sideways teaches how to maintain a writing career, and How to Revise Your Novel teaches how to take a first draft apart and improve it in all areas to make a good story.

How to Write a Series is another wonderful course by Holly Lisle, where I am learning how to write long running series, while keeping each story interesting and fresh for the readers.

Holly also has small courses that can help in developing your stories at the above link.

Dean Wesley Smith has many wonderful courses, and articles to help navigate Indie Publishing.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has business articles on her blog, which are always a good read and educational.

The Passive Voice keeps me up to date with articles from many other websites on Indie Publishing. There are many tips and helpful hints in the comments by many wonderful Indie authors.

Any Other Comments?

I recommend you all have a go. It is easy once you work out the steps you are most comfortable with to write and format your files, even if you think the learning curve is steep.

If you understand what is involved with each step to create your ebooks and print books, you will understand the costs involved if you outsource certain processes. That way, you will know if you run across scams, of which there are many waiting to take money off new authors, and you can avoid them.

Once I had over ten stories up on the sites my sales picked up, so don’t be disappointed if your sales are slow when you start. Just keep writing and publish your stories. Let the readers find your stories and if they like them they will write reviews and purchase more stories as soon as you publish them.

Practice, practice and practice some more. Write stories and release them on all distributor sites, instead of exclusive with Amazon, and over time your readers will find your stories.

Most of all, have fun.

If you wish to guest blog your path to Indie publishing on my site, please write answers to each of the above questions and email me, including links to your blog and web site.

If you have any questions please ask in the comments.

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2 comments so far

  1. brittneysahin on

    Great info! Thank you.

    • D J Mills on

      You are welcome, Brittney, and thanks for visiting. 🙂


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