Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Indie Publishing Secrets Revealed- #20 Editing

Indie Publishing Secrets Revealed- #20 Editing

Okay, time for confessions on EDITING. Boring right?

After reading my story, you'll think twice.

I don't like to edit. I think it's a drag.

If you are an indie author, you will probably be tempted to skip the professional editing part of publishing. Why? Because it can be expensive and who has $300-$1000 bucks to give out? Right?  And besides, every book you've ever read has errors in it. Yes, I know. Even the big six published books have errors. Yep.

You also are probably thinking that so many people have gone over your manuscript, there is no way there could be many errors. You have a critique group, beta readers, friends who edit and all of them have read your book. You've done your due diligence.

That's what I thought.

From the inception of my book to its publication, it took a little over 4 years. That is a long time for someone who doesn't have a very long attention span....

When I started writing Watched, I knew nothing about writing a novel. That being said, I did win a lot of awards for my writing in college. I should've taken the hint back then. Instead, it took me years of teaching awesome teenagers and a dream to kick my butt in gear. I was top of my class in all my English courses, too.

I did all the right things. I went to writer's conferences, joined a few critique groups and edited my manuscript like crazy. I had a lot of beta-readers read it and took a lot of their advice. I edited and edited.  So many people had looked at my manuscript and heck, I'd looked at a milllion times. How could there possibly be any errors?

Truth be told. I think something happens to an author's eyes when they look at their work for the millionth time. At least for me, I couldn't see anything wrong with it anymore. Maybe it had something to do with being in the middle of writing the sequel...who knows. My eyes could no longer detect any errors. 

 It was ready. Finally. I was ecstatic and impatient.

I set my release date with Barnes and Noble and started spreading the word.

On June 6th, 2011, I gave birth to my baby, right there in Barnes and Noble. I was so proud.

At the end of June, a couple of my cute friends pointed out a few silly punctuation errors. I quickly fixed them for the ebook version and made the changes for the print version. The next printing would be perfect, I told myself. I love my friends.

Then, in August, another awesome friend of mine that has an affinity for English, helped me do an in-depth edit of Watched. 

Wait, you're saying. I thought it was already released. Yep. It was. 1500 strong..and that's just the print books...

She was amazing. You will not believe how many errors she found in my perfectly critiqued and edited book. Yikes. She found missing quotations, missing commas, missspellings, words that should have been capitalized, incorrect punctuation and other general awkwardness.

Don't let this happen with your book.

After several plot/content edits, when you think your book is perfect, have someone line edit it. Make the changes and have someone else line edit it, just to be safe.(I guess twice is over-kill if you hire a professional...)

What was I thinking? I wasn't.

So, my book has been out now for three months and I finally have a polished book. I can't tell you how good that feels. Don't leave it to chance. Do it right the first time. Then you won't be like me, wishing you could give all 1500 of those people a new polished book.

Maybe when I'm rich and famous.  :)


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Indie-Publishing Secrets Revealed #19 Your Book Pre-Launch

#19 Your Book Pre-Launch

Everything is coming along smoothly for you now. Your book is at the printer and your distributor is ready to distribute it. (This could be a POD doing both of these things) Unless of course, you've decided to only ebook it. If so, just disregard the things I write about print books.  

It's time to prepare for your launch.

Ebook launch.

  • Hopefully, you've been out there pounding the blogosphere for a variety of people to support you during your launch. You should have people sending out little teasers on their blogs, on twitter, goodreads and on facebook, including your book facebook page, all directing people to your blog where you are talking about launching your book. You are getting people talking. Start a buzz.

  • I already talked about reviews and you should be following up on those.

  • Set up a few blog tours.

  • One could be a blast, where you hold a contest on your blog and have 10-15 bloggers direct people there on the same day.

  • Another could be a longer tour, for a week or so, where people are giving away your book and doing author interviews. Always have them direct traffic to your blog somehow.

  • Another might be a review blog tour, where people review your book, directing people to your blog and to purchase links.

  • Collect prizes you can give away on these tours.

Be creative. Look outside the box.

Print and Ebook launch

Do all of the above and...

  • Get posters made. Use Photoshop or some other photo manipulating program to create a poster that highlights your book launch. Make it simple. Only use necessary words. Less is more. I printed mine at Costco. A bargain for $3.50 If you don't have the skill for this. Use a service like Zazzle.com to create your poster. You will pay for their expertise, but it's better than not having any posters. They will run you around 10 bucks a piece. Less, if you order more. If you are launching from a store, ask the manager what you need on posters for the store. Sometimes, they let you hang your own if you have the store's name on it. Other times, they don't allow it at all. Sometimes, they make posters for you. You may not like them, but at least they tried.

  • If you are YA, get the poster hung in schools on their news boards. Give some flyers with the same info to teachers. All students take English classes every year. Make a flyer the teacher can put up on or by their door. Not all schools will let you, but try.

  • Hang flyers on community bulletin boards like the ones you see in grocery stores. Be bold. Ask businesses to help you spread the word.

  • Take small flyers around your neighborhood. People want to support you, help them. Do this a few days before the launch. I did 1/4 sheets of paper.

  • Work with the store that is launching your book. By the way, you should be in contact with them months in advance. They like to advertise in newsletters and need time to do that. Also, it takes them a minimum of 2 weeks to get your (and other authors'--if you invite others) books in the store.  Get the store to give out flyers about 2 weeks in advance. Have them hang posters in the windows and make sure employees know who you are and when the launch is happening. Be nice and encourage them to promote you.

  • Get your book into libraries- donate a few. As people start requesting them, they will order more.

  • I like the party atmosphere, so I invited 10 other local authors to join me and we had contests and prize drawings.  I had each author bring a prize to give away and told them to advertise, too. It was a party for sure! I was the third highest selling author at a signing at that Barnes and Noble, ever.

  • Some like to do launches out of their home. That is perfectly acceptable, but you still should do everything I suggested here.

  • If you are POD. Order however many books you think you will need. I got 200 and had a some left over. Most authors, however, do not sell that many. Most, according to B&N only sell around 30. It's a judgement call you'll have to make. How reliable are the people you invited? How much advertising did you do? Can you do more? Don't over-estimate, but I think under-estimating is a worse crime.

  • Get food at your launch. It doesn't need to be big. Bite size treats are always a winner.

  • Line up the people who will help with the launch. Friendly, fun people who like events like this. No one likes a grouchy-pants. Make sure they've read your book and can talk to customers about it. If you are in a store other than a bookstore, you need to have a cashier on top of the following list: someone handing out the books or at least getting you more books when you need them, people to help with treats, people to help with contests and drawings, people to just come and support you.(Lots of people milling about creates a buzz). I was surprised at how many people I needed to help me and I was at a bookstore.

  • Make sure you have several good pens. I like pilots. They flow easily so that you don't get hand cramps. By the way, what are you going to write? How will you sign your name? Decide these things before you go.

  • Some people print book marks to give away. These will run you 6-7 cents a piece if you order a lot. I like to hand out double sided cards instead. These only cost a bit over a penny each if you use Uprinting and order a lot. Either way, they better look professional. You decide. I did not give away either on launch night because people were already coming for me and I wasn't advertising. When I'm at Costco signing books, I give out a ton of cards because I'm peaking their interest.
You have to get word out, or you will be alone at your launch. Get people excited. Do what it takes and you won't be sorry. Marketing is huge. You will get a big taste of it prior to your launch. Have fun!

Happy Pre-launching!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Indie-Publishing Secrets Revealed #18 Publishing Mistakes and More Mistakes

#18 My world of indie-publishing :) A comedy of errors.

When I decided to indie-publish, I was pretty much on my own. Sure, there was a ton of "vague" or "theoryish" information out there, but nothing hands on. I had to muddle my way through it.

I freely admit that I tend to be a bit compulsive. What can I say? I'm an optimist through and through. I couldn't imagine anything going wrong with my hasty plans. How hard could it be?

I was about to find out.
Mistakes, Mistakes, Mistakes as well as some Problems
Don't make the same mistakes I made. (Links to solutions are in the titles of each section)

I was intending to find an agent. In fact, I had several requests for the first three chapters waiting for me to send them. I just couldn't and I don't know why.
Because of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, I had a free proof waiting for me at Createspace.

I went for it and created a book. When my proof came, I couldn't help but show everyone I knew and guess what? Those people all wanted to buy a book. Students in the schools I taught wanted the book. My neighbors wanted the book. 

I'd been working on it for a good 3 years and had a hard time accepting that if an agent picked me up, and if a publisher bought it, it would be at least two years before it would be on shelves.

So, I went for it.

I bought into the Createspace expanded distribution channel hype and talked to Barnes and Noble about launching my book. What I didn't know was that the expanded distribution channel did not put my books on bookshelves and bookstores would not order it even though it was in the Ingram catalogue. Sure, they CAN order it, but they won't. Never in a million years. I called Createspace and complained. I told them how misleading the expanded distribution channel was.  Funny, they've since changed the wording for this distribution.
Profits anyone?
Also, if anyone bought my book from B&N.com or other sources other than Amazon.com, I would only make .67 cents or so from each book. Yeah. .67 cents.
ISBN and Barcode Mania
Then I discovered the problem with the ISBN and barcode. The ISBN belonged to Createspace and the barcode was coded with 9000 and no price. The barcode is what stores scan into the computer when you buy it. The 9000 code gives no pricing info. Stores hate that. Most bookstores require the price to be encoded in the barcode and the price printed on the book. Createspace does not do that. I had to quickly add both of those things to the book for my launch and get it all re-approved through Createspace. What a pain.
Money, money, money
I also had to order and pay for all the books for the launch. Barnes and Noble wouldn't/couldn't order from a POD. (Print on Demand publisher) I bit the bullet and ordered 200.
Defective Books?
During the launch, after about an hour of signing books, I took a book from a customer to sign and noticed the title page was missing. I set it aside and started paying attention to the books I was signing. As the books came out of the boxes, I discovered all kinds of problems with them: the laminate peeled on some, the cover was only partially printed, bubbles were in the cover, major scratches and smudges were on the covers, pages  were turned or incorrectly added, pages were missing. 
No joke. It was real.
How many books had I signed with problems I hadn't noticed? I tried to stay calm and had my hubby go through the books before he brought them to me. We made it through the night and I had enough books. It was awesome to be the 3rd highest selling author ever at that Barnes and Noble. Yay! Later, after a big hullabaloo, Createspace did make it right-as much as they could, considering people probably got defective books.
LCCN? What's that?
Then I found out about LCCN's. Creatspace hadn't mentioned these. (Yes, I complained and guess what? Their new format does tell you about them) I researched and discovered I wanted one, but I had to get a new ISBN that belonged to me and re-publish in order to get one. Another two week process.
I want my books on bookstore shelves!
I also really wanted my books to be on shelves and had found a distributor who could put them there. I got the books printed and sent them to the distributor, cancelling everything with Createspace. Basically, I retired my book title.
More ISBN problems?
New problems came up. Createspace had somehow attached itself to my ISBN and my new distributor couldn't list the book on Amazon or on Ingram. My book had just been launched and no one could get their hands on it. Createspace kept saying they didn't know what was going on and Amazon was saying they couldn't fix it without Createspace. Createspace truly had claimed my ISBN and "couldn't explain how that happened". Finally, after 3 weeks, problem solved. What a mess.
Barnes and Noble madness
My print book is still not back on Barnes and Noble.com or in its stores because it has to go through another 6-8 week acceptance process, even though it had already been on their site. Crazy, I know. Anytime now.
More ISBN craziness
Also, I had to get my books combined on Amazon and Goodreads because it now had a new ISBN. Amazon won't combine the two, but Goodreads does. So much trouble.
Did I really miss that comma, spell that wrong, leave that out...
I thought I had my book proofed really well. Then, a couple of my good friends got their hands on it. They tore it up. I'm on my third printing now, and hopefully with their amazing help, I actually have a book (ebook and print) that is almost error free. Too bad I hadn't thought to have them fix it before the first printing. That's what happens when you're in too much of a hurry and way overconfident. Be sure your book is edited well before you put it out there. Take all the time you need. I know, you have looked at it a hundred times and can't see any errors anymore. That's why you need fresh eyes-one last time.

I did not write this post to discourage you from indie-publishing. On the contrary. Go for it. But do it with some direction. Sure, you may run upon some problems, some mistakes, but hopefully, they won't be the full-on horrible ones I made. I am doing this series for YOU.  Spare yourself some heartache and learn from me. Good thing I'm not prone to depression, right? I actually look back and laugh.

What a trip.

Happy Indie-Publishing!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Secrets to Indie Publishing #17- Getting your Book Distributed

Indie publishing secret #17 Distribution

Now you have a proof copy of your book. Amazing feeling right? I know you did a happy dance...maybe you even kissed the cover.

What's next?

You need to get a distributor and a printer.

What, you say? I already have that with Createspace.
True, and you could leave it at that, but remember-

Your book will NOT be on store shelves

Bookstores will only take your book if it is returnable for 100 years. Createspace is a POD (Print on demand) publisher and does not accept returns. 

If you are okay with your print book only selling at online retailers, just use Createspace. If you want to be on bookstore shelves, you need to find a printer and a distributor.

Once your proof comes back perfect, order several more (3-4).

Look up distributors in your area. I used the internet. I also asked my indie-published friends. I read about what they had to offer and if they were accepting submissions. I followed the submission guidelines for the one I liked and sent them a copy of the book. Two weeks later, they told me they wanted my book. Yippee! (Happy dance here, too.)

In the meantime, I got with a cool designer at Speedi-pack in Layton to re-create my cover by looking at the one I created on Createspace. It cost me $20 bucks and was perfect. He put the copies on my jump drive. (That was easy)

I also called a bunch of printers in my area and talked to some indie-published authors about who they used. I asked for approximate costs. Once I found ones I liked, I sent them the cover copy and the interior file to get an exact cost. Two days later I received emails with the cost breakdown.

What? You have to pay for books? I know, it's a hard pill to swallow. You can expect to pay around 3 grand for a first run of a thousand books. If you can ante up more moolah, you can reduce the price per book. Why can't you just buy the books from Createspace and give them to your distributor and save all the hassle? Because you will be paying for distribution twice. You won't make any money.

Once I knew I had a distributor, I gave the printer the go ahead and he created a proof that he mailed out to me. 3 days later the proof was in my hot little hands. I called and approved it and they started the print job.

Five days later, my books were ready for pick-up or delivery and I was invested in my new publishing venture 3 grand...but my books were on the fast track to being in stores as well as being available online. I just found out that I made that money back and it's only been 3 months. Pretty amazing if you ask me. (Freaking awesome dance here)

Next week I'll share the mistakes I made during this process. Pitfalls you will be able to avoid. Go ahead, one more time. Give me a good shake.

Happy printing and distributing