Let me start out this guest blog by thanking my benefactor, Carol Marshall. Thank you for putting my words on your page, Carol, that’s a strong gesture from author to author.
I wanted to share a few words on what it means to be an indie author, and how it comes to be. I think many of us start out doing the same grind as anyone else, write the book, create the synopsis ten dozen times in different lengths, agonize over query letters.
I did this. I did it more than once. It always felt like I was right on the edge. I got numerous query letters from agents, many of which got responses. Some were very helpful, such as the one that said 130,000 words was too long for a book from a first time author. I cut the book into intro novel sized parts, creating my first two books from one. Win!
I got another response that said “Your main character isn’t likable.” “She doesn’t show enough compassion, she’s cold.” This was probably the response that pushed me over the edge into indie publishing. Why? Because my main character is a military commander with thousands of lives in her hands. Should she get weepy when she asks her crews to die? How many would follow her if she wailed in agony each time she sacrificed people for victory? Few, I believe. I had every intention of writing a realistic commander, male or female.
I then asked myself, “Would this be the response if my main character was male?” Could I find examples of leaders male leaders like mine in science fiction? Sure I could. Admiral Ackbar. Jean Luc Picard. Kirk.
I could be wrong in thinking there was a bias against a female starship captain. Maybe my characters aren’t ‘quite’ good enough. But the reason my main character is female is because I have three daughters. I teach them every day that they don’t have to play by any standard. They can be what they want, and if they have one more barrier to punch through, then tear that barrier apart like a lioness.
So instead of rewriting the Dark Seas series with a male lead, I decided to self publish it. And I wrote later books with more powerful women. Merik, in book 2, would arguably be the most powerful woman in human history were she real. Hey, it’s fiction, go big or go home.
Has there been a price to pay for my decision to publish indie? Maybe. But I’m approaching a thousand book sales, so maybe not. I can tell you that while my daughters are young and don’t appreciate the stance yet, as they move out into the world, they will. My lionesses.
Tweets like this one helped solidify my stance:
Dec 19, 2016
Your strong female lead. Badass.
When you go indie, go full tilt. I now have six novels on Amazon as well as a novella and a growing list of short stories. I am about to publish my seventh novel, the 5th book in the Dark Seas Series. You will learn things as you go, and it will be your readers that educate you.
Take this 5 star review from my first book, for example:
“The Anvil of Dust and Stars is one of those books that you don’t see coming, not only due to the cover art and summary not doing it any justice, but also because of the way in which the story itself develops.”
What did I learn? I since have a new cover, after joining a stock photo site instead of relying on my own art skills. And, to be honest, I’m still learning how to write the summary for my book’s page on Amazon. As for how the story develops, one of the strengths of Indie writing is that you don’t have to follow the convention. After all, it’s a 5 star review! But learning never ends, does it? I’ll keep working on my covers and summaries.
You’ll need to learn extensively to indie publish. Here is an incomplete list.
· You need to know how to write a good story.
· You need to know how to compile and format your final result.
· You need to determine where you will publish. I am exclusively Amazon, but maybe you’d like to go Kobo, Smashwords, iBooks, etc.
· You need to learn how to select your keywords.
· You have to know your genre and select proper categories on your sales site.
· You need to learn Google Adwords, Amazon Marketing Services, and Facebook Ads. Probably others that I haven’t learned yet.
· You need to see if you can get book signings. Attend conventions. (I’ll be at the Colorado Springs Comic Con in August, come see me.)
· And, in the writing section, you need to have a critique group, a few beta readers, and an editor. I’m lucky, my wife reads extensively, is very well educated, and edits mine for me. That saves me hundreds of dollars per book.
· If you’re going to do your own covers, do them well. I thought Example A was good enough, but after taking the review above to heart, I created Example B which seems to be much more popular. Covers, reportedly, are 70% of the decision to buy a book. I don’t know if that applies to ebooks or not, but I bet the number is high.
As you can see, the knowledge base to be an indie author is extensive, and I’m sure I’ve not covered plenty of it. Am I trying to talk you out of it? No! No! No! I’m simply trying to make sure that if you feel you’re not getting what you need from the traditional route, that you go into the indie route with your eyes open.
Writing is 10% of what you’ll do. The rest is marketing, editing, formatting, etc. Because very few of us are lucky enough to write a book that sells itself. If I ever do, I’ll write a book on how to do it. Then I’ll market that book. Because I don’t think any books sell themselves.
Thank you for reading. If you’re interested in seeing my catalog, please check out the following link.
Damon’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Damon’s blog and website: www.damonalan.com