Monday, February 18, 2013

The Most Important Tips for Independently Publishing Your Novel

I must apologize for not replying to last week's comments, and further apologize for not doing my usual blog visits.  I'm preparing for a workshop and have been a little stretched for time. 

I may not be able to reply to comments or visit blogs again this week, but I should be back into my normal routine next week!

Because of time constraints, I'm recycling a post today.  Below is an article I wrote for Romantic Friday Writers during a blog tour in the fall. If you missed it then, hope you'll find it useful now!

Now is the best possible time to be a writer!  With the advent of online publishing and e-books, authors can publish their own work.  However, if you’re considering going independent, keep these tips in mind so you can create the most professional product possible:

Write a Great Story – Although your mother and your friends will love your book, make sure other writers have read it and given you an honest opinion.  Join a local or online writers group or find a critique partner if you don’t have one already.  If you need to, Google Online Writing Groups or Critique Groups.  To hone your skills, don’t only read books on craft, read books similar to what you love to write—that’s a great teaching tool in itself.  Some of my favorite craft books include Strunk and White’s The Element’s of Style, Stephen King’s On Writing, Leigh Michaels’s On Writing Romance, Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict and Robert Masello’s Robert’s Rule’s of Writing.

Edit - Once you’ve completed your novel, have it professionally edited.  You cannot edit your own work! Once you’ve worked on a piece for months or years, it’s very easy to overlook left out words, typos and misspellings (been there, done that). An editor will not only catch these mistakes, but he/she can also help fine tune your finished product by re-crafting sentences or cutting unnecessary words to improve the flow of your story. If you don’t know of an editor, Google eBook Editing Services. 

Format - Format your book correctly! Formatting an e-book isn’t difficult, but it is tedious, not to mention a little overwhelming for the non-technical among us—of which I am one! I did my own formatting for the Kindle and Nook versions of my books, so if I can do it anyone can. The Smashwords Style Guide (free) walks you through the formatting process step by step to prepare your manuscript for upload to their site.  The same formatting can be used for Barnes and Noble Pubit.  Amazon guidelines are different, but very easy to follow.  However, if you don’t have time for the task, or you’re more comfortable letting a pro do it, there are many out there who’ll do it for a reasonable price. Just Google eBook Formatting Services.

 Design an Eye-catching Cover – Your cover is the first impression your book makes on the outside world, so it needs to grab your readers’ attention. Even if your story is great, an ugly cover will discourage readers from clicking on it. Hire a professional artist to create an awesome cover for you! Google eBook Cover Design if you need help finding one.

These are just a few tips, but some of the most important.  However, if you’re seriously thinking about going indie, I highly recommend reading some sources that will give you a thorough overview of what to expect before taking the plunge! Jeff Bennington’s The Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe is great.  I finished it recently, and wish I could have read it before I dove in blindfolded!

Just a few last words.  You might have writer friends who are experts in all of the above, but not the money to pay them. Indies are usually on a shoestring budget, so don’t hesitate to barter services.  Can you edit, proofread or be a beta reader? Exchange that service with a writer friend who’s a graphic designer. 

Have you independently published your book? If so, what are some important tips you’d like to share?


shelly said...


Since you're busy here is the link to Secondhand Shoes, the Kindle version will be free tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday.

Hugs and chocolate,

Intangible Hearts said...

Excellent advice and I can never hear this stuff enough.

Norma said...

I took the easy way out on the tech stuff. I let my son do it.

Excellent advice, Maria--for new AND established writers!

Shelly said...

Really great tips- thank you for sharing!

Old Kitty said...

These are classic tips and bears repeating! Thank you Maria! Good luck with your workshop!

Take care

Beth said...

I think these are great tips, but I don't think being indie is an excuse to skimp on professional services. A freelance editor is usually worth the cost, and overtime the quality edit pays for itself. I always use cps and betas before paying the editor, but you really should work out a budget before publishing and know that you will have to make investments just like in any other business.

Romance Book Haven said...

Hi Maria!

Some great advice in this post. And yes, that point you make is valid-you cannot edit your own work-you are definite to miss typos and errors.


Carol Riggs said...

GREAT tips...the most important one being to write a great story, the best you can, in the first place. Then your marketing isn't so hard, because others will help you sell via word of mouth! But yes--editing and a great cover are crucial, too.

William Kendall said...

Great advice, Maria. I've done most of these... now it's a matter of formatting.