My Next Indie Published Guest

My next Indie Published guest is Katharina Gerlach.

Katharina Gerlach was born in Germany in 1968. She and her three younger brothers grew up in the middle of a forest in the heart of the Luneburgian Heather. After romping through the forest with imagination as her guide, the tomboy learned to read and disappeared into magical adventures, past times or eerie fairytale woods.

She didn’t stop at reading. During her training as a landscape gardener, she wrote her first novel, a manuscript full of a beginner’s mistakes. Fortunately, she found books on Creative Writing and soon her stories improved. For a while, reality interfered with her writing but after finishing a degree in forestry and a PhD in Science she returned to her vocation. She likes to write Fantasy, Science Fiction and Historical Novels for all age groups.

To read more about Katharina, visit her Amazon Author page.

How Did You Get Started In Indie Publishing?

The first publishable novel I ever wrote was a historical story with romance and mystery elements for young adults based on facts from my best friends family history. I got an offer of representation by a German agent … and then nothing. I waited for nearly 2 years without getting a publisher. Everyone who seemed interested shook their head when they heard the story wasn’t set in the Middle Ages. So I canceled the contract. In the meantime, I’d written several more novels, this time Fantasy which German agents and publishers consider a hard sell (not true by the way). Since my best friend was eager to get our book into the hands of her extensive family, we Indie published with the help of a tiny publishing house. It was a surprise hit. We sold nearly 1000 copies of the novel, ugly cover and all. So when my contract with my second agent, this time a specialist for Fantasy, didn’t work out either, I committed to going Indie and haven’t looked back once.

Can You Recommend Steps For Beginner Authors?
Before you jump in, read as much about Indie publishing as you can. Set up a website early (it doesn’t need to be more than a calling card) and connect it to Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, Twitter, whatever you feel comfortable with. Do not try to be everywhere. Build your platform on those social media sites you ENJOY working with (I more or less gave up Twitter. It’s too fast and too confusing for me) and then, try to get your social media friends to sign up for your eMail mailing list. Interact with potential readers and don’t spam.

When you approach publication, invest a fair amount of money for cover art and editing. If you’re visually talented you might also take cover art courses (I recommend the one of Dean Wesley Smith) but never, ever do your own editing.

What Are Your Favorite Writing Programs And Why?
I don’t care one bit. A simple text editor would do. Currently I’m using Libre Office because it’s free, easy to use, and well documented (meaning I can look up things I don’t understand intuitively if I have to).

What Is Your Way Of Editing Your Stories?
For the English version, I pay a good editor. The German version is proofread by a retired secretary once I ironed out the kinks my editor found.

Do You Use Beta Readers And Where Did You Find Them?
Since I’m putting out a new novelette every 3-4 months plus short stories every other month and novels whenever I’ve got one finished, there’s no one who can keep up with this and still live his/her own life. I have beta-readers for those stories that I consider most important (my fairy tale novella series and most novels). The rest is read and commented on by my editor and that’s it.

How Do You Format Your Ebooks And Print Books?
I hand-code my ebooks with my writing program, Sigil, and kindlegen (both programs are free, and I’ll be publishing a “How to code slim eBooks” soon) to get the slimmest eBook possible. Programs like Calibre always add too much ballast, increasing file size. Since I, as the publisher, have to pay for every MB that’s downloaded, it’s in my best interest to keep file size small.

How Do You Create Your Covers?
The covers for my fairy tale retelling series are created by Corona Zschüsschen. I do the rest and feel quite confident now (after taking the cover art course by Dean Wesley Smith).

Do You Write Your Own Blurbs?
I write it myself, but there’s still room for improvement. The most important thing is to make the blurb interesting, draw the reader in without giving away too much information, and to clearly state what’s at stake so the reader will open the book. I don’t always get that right, but I’m improving.

Have You Set Up An Indie Publisher Business?
Yes. I wanted my own ISBNs and couldn’t get them without founding my own publishing house. In Germany, this means a few advantages (like ISBNs at reasonable prices) and a lot of disadvantages (e.g.: I have to pay an additional 5% for obligatory health insurance whenever I use an external artist regardless of where the artist lives – this is a lot of extra money when I hire a voice over artist for audio books).

Do You Actively Market Your Stories And How?
I’ve got an eMail list for readers who like to be informed of new publications. Also, I’m running an advent calendar once a year. With friends, I run the Independent Bookworm blog, and I’ve got a website. I’m also hanging out on Facebook and Pinterest.

I try to keep the time I spend on marketing at less than 1 hour a day but don’t always manage.

Do You Have Any Tips Or Tricks To Share?
– keep determined to improve your craft always
– don’t give up (it takes many publications to gain traction)
– do the best you can and revisit publications a few years down the line if necessary
– write regularly (once a day or at least every workday)
– if you get stuck, write regularly (journals, character studies, or anything else that gets your juice flowing again)
Stubbornness helps a lot if you want to be successful in this job. It is not a get rich quick scheme.

Can You List Any Mentors That Helped Your Indie Journey?
Holly Lisle
Dean Wesley Smith

Any Other Comments?
Help others and they’ll help you.

Thanks Katharina.

You can visit Katharina’s website, Facebook Page or Amazon Author page

Anyone else game to tell us your Indie Publishing journey?

If so, just leave a comment, including your email (hidden from my blog readers) and I can email you the list of questions and my email address.

Most of all, keep writing and having fun.


4 comments so far

  1. E.K. Carmel on

    I’m finally catching up on my blog reading and I love this series! I’m always fascinated by other writers’ habits, tools, and strategies. Thanks!

    • D J Mills on

      You are welcome. 🙂
      I like to find the easiest (for me) software to use to get the most professional look for my stories in the shortest time.
      Learning how others format and publish their stories helps me with my formatting, even if it is one or two little tweaks. 🙂

  2. […] blogs did Interviews with me, one in German and the other one in English. On DJ Mills’ blog, I return to my starting days and discuss the twisted path I took. The German blog focuses more on […]

  3. […] Blogs haben mich interviewt, einer auf Deutsch, der andere auf Englisch. Auf DJ Mills‘ Blog kehre ich zu meinen Wurzeln zurück und erzähle etwas über den verworrenen Weg, den ich gegangen […]

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