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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

T is for Taking the Risk




I’ve been writing fiction professionally for seventeen years and nonfiction since 1988. During all that time, I only once thought of publishing my own books, and those were nonfictional volumes. There is something comfortable about the concept of someone else being ultimately responsible for packaging your finished product and introducing it to the world. I have to admit that maybe it’s more convenience than comfort. Whatever the case, after sixteen years, I’ve learned a few things about turning over my work to a publisher:


1. All publishers are not created equal. I have written a blog about finding a good publisher at RT Book Reviews. You can find it here: RT Book Reviews

2. Publishers can take advantage of the naïve author. Make sure you know what you’re signing before you sign a contract. If you don’t know, get help or you may be sorry later.

3. You aren’t going to become a millionaire publishing with small press, at least not at the present time. Just know that it helps to be a small press author because it gets your name out there, builds your reputation and gives you credibility. In time, it can be very profitable, but don’t go signing a mortgage based on anticipated earnings.

4. Your chances of becoming a millionaire in large press are diminishing by the hour. If you don’t believe me, read Brenda Hiatt’s Show Me the Money column and see what average authors are making. Authors are making far less than they did in the past. Yes, of course, there are exceptions—I’m talking about the average author.

5. Just because a publisher has your work does not absolve you from advertising and promoting your work to the public. You will spend more time in promotion tham writing the book—sad, but true. My best words of advice are to forge friendships with readers and authors early on and take your cheering squad with you along the journey.


Because my eyes are open regarding both small and large press publishers, I decided that, though I will always keep my toes in the waters of small press, I owed it to myself explore the new world of indie publishing. There is no denying that indie publishing is a risky prospect. It is fraught with a new vocabulary, different conventions and techniques and the need for skills most authors have never learned.


There are many books written on this subject and it could never be covered in a blog, but here are things to consider if you want to explore this new frontier:


1. Do your homework. Don’t think you can just go follow the instructions on Amazon and Smashwords and whammo-bammo put up your work one Saturday afternoon. “Homework” consists of lots of reading on how to properly indie publish. This would include the Smashwords guide (free for download, and yes, even if you don’t plan to publish it here). It also includes talking to many writers who have already published several books to more than one main venue, such as Kindle, Smashwords, Pubit and Allromance Ebooks, just to name a few.

2. Thoroughly edit your work. That means getting someone, other than you, to line edit and a separate person to Beta-read. You’re better off with multiple people doing each. At the end, you need to go back through the work at least one last time.
3. Explore ways to convert your files so you can have multiple formats. That way, you don’t have to always rely on Smashwords and its “Meatgrinder.”

4. Spring for a professional cover. One you do yourself is more than likely not going to draw readers to your book. Get someone who makes a living by doing this to design one that looks like it came from a New York publisher. There are some out there who only charge $50 per e-book cover (some less). If you can’t afford that, wait until you can.


There is so much more you need to know, but I believe it pays to take the risk.

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Bobbye Terry is the muti-published writer of romantic comedy, suspense and fantasy. Her most recent indie novella release is Rose, a contemporary romantic comedy. She is currently indie publishing a cyberpunk novella series. Millicent, the prequel, Frozen Assets, Book 1 and of Full Moon Rising, Book 2 of The Cash Chronicles, are available under her Daryn Cross pen name. Her mystery novella series, Briny Bay, is out, including Buried in Briny Bay and The Marriage Murders plus the August release, The Shadow Knows. The series and much more under both names are available through Turquoise Morning Press. For more information, check out her online headquarters: www.BobbyeTerryRomance.com, www.BobbyeTerry-MysteryHappens.com and www.DarynCross.com.

5 comments:

R. Ann Siracusa said...

This blog gives great advice for someone trying to navigate the rapidly-changing world of publishing. Today there are so many options for authors (which is really wonderful) that planning a writing career has become much more difficult than it was just five years ago. Great post.

Tina Donahue said...

Awesome advice and so true. Thanks for sharing.

Suzanne Johnson said...

Great advice--I think we're going to see more and more authors with a combination of traditional and indie-published works. Diversification is a good thing!

Sandy said...

Thank you for the words of wisdom.

jean hart stewart said...

Kinda scary to even watch how things are changing...Great post.

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