These are just some of the few I’ve found helpful, but there are many more out there! Many are genre or topic based, and you can pretty much find a group for anything you’re interested in.
Networking with authors is also a great way to learn more about agents, publishers, and services in the publishing industry. Getting someone’s honest experience with one of these can save you a lot of headaches or steer you in the right direction to find that perfect fit.
Joining a writing group (online or in-person) is a great way to find support along the often-lonely journey of writing and publishing. If you can attend an in-person group, I highly encourage that route, because we all need to get away from our computers and out of our own heads once in a while. Online writing groups can be beneficial as well, especially for getting feedback and asking questions.
The biggest plus of networking with other authors is learning from them and getting help when you need it. Many authors who’ve been in the indie publishing world for a lot of years had to learn it all on their own, because there weren’t many resources ten or fifteen years ago.
Most of these authors know how hard it is to start at square one and are very willing to help newer authors and aspiring writers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice!
Marketing is one of the biggest chores for indie authors. There are so many avenues it can be overwhelming. Breaking it down to the basics can help you get started developing a plan and getting your book in front of readers!
Websites are important, even though readers often tell me the biggest reason to go to an author’s website is to find the order of books in a series.
Readers aren’t always your main target with a website, though. So who is? Media, agents, publishers, and other industry professionals. They go to websites to find a bunch of information all in one place.
Many website services are free or low-cost for a basic setup. Popular sites include WordPress, Wix, and Square Space. Yearly hosting fees for paid websites are usually in the $60-$500 range, depending on how intricate the website is and what special features you want.
Domain name registration is $10-$20 per year and well worth the cost! A .com site looks WAY more professional than a .wix.com or .wordpress.com site.
Custom designed sites are the most expensive options, for the design work and for hosting costs.
Blogs can be a great way to drive traffic to your website on a regular basis, but only if you’re willing to put in the time to blog consistently. If you don’t have time for that, don’t start a blog.
Social media account are vital in today’s marketing world. Not only are they great places to grow your fan base and develop relationships with your readers, an account is required on most platforms to be able to run ads.
This doesn’t mean you have to run out and join every social media site known to man. ONLY sign up for the ones you’re actually going to use consistently. The most popular and effective right now are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Amazon ads.
Most social media platforms are free to set up and running ads can be done even on a very small budget.
Sign up for author profiles and popular book related sites. Unlike social media, you don’t have to actively do anything on these sites. Having a profile allows you to add your books, run ads, and gain followers, though.
Popular book-related sites right now include BookBub, Goodreads (don’t read reviews!), and My Book Cave. Most of these types of sites are free to sign up, but may be a bit pricier to run ads or features on and you have to be approved for features.
There are a million book-related newsletters out there that accept free and paid feature spots. The biggest the list, the higher the price. However, many smaller ads (free or $5) can be very effective. Most writers have a hard time getting features on bigger lists without a lot of reviews.
Making a Plan
There’s a lot of trial and error involved with book marketing. Everyone’s book is different and will speak to readers in different ways.
Start small. Test out multiple avenues and keep track of what does and doesn’t work. As you evaluate the effectiveness of different tactics, you’ll be able to start making a solid plan.
What does it cost to be an indie author? It’s question many new writers want to know. When you take on the production cost of a book, you need to know where those costs will fit into your budget.
***Quick note to say I will be moving my weekly posts to Tuesdays***
The cost of editing depends on what type of editing you need for your project.
Developmental editing is the most involved and the most expensive. A developmental editor will help you work out problems with the story/characters and help improve the flow and style . It will cost you about $0.08/word or $20/page.
Copyediting is less involved and doesn’t dig into story or character problems. It mainly deals with improving sentence structure and readability, as well as generally tightening up the writing. It will cost you about $0.02/word or $5/page.
Proofreading in the least involved and least expensive, but requires the writer (or a previous round of editing) to have cleaned up the manuscript as much as possible. Proofreading aims to catch typos and punctuation errors, not fix major issues. It will cost you about $0.01/word, $3/page.
The cost depends on whether you want an ebook cover only, a full wrap cover for a paperback, or both, as well as whether you want a customer cover (with stock or exclusive photos) or a premade cover.
Premade covers are the least expensive option, but offer the least ability to customize. Most quality premades are in the $30-$50 range. Most premades are only ebook covers, but many designers offer an add on option to turn it into a full wrap if you need it.
Stock photos in a custom cover will be less expensive than using exclusive photos. Custom covers are usually in the $50-$150 range for ebook covers and you can plan to add another $30-$50 to add a full wrap to the package. The range has to do with how many photos are need for the cover. More photos means more cost.
Exclusive images guarantee no one else will have your same cover, but you’ll pay for that privilege. Plan on $500 and up for a custom photo shoot.
Formatting for ebooks and paperbacks can be learned by those with knowledge of Word or the willingness to learn software like Jutoh, Kindle Create, or Calibre. InDesign is a professional level software that has a steep learning curve, but is doable if you’re on a tight budget and willing to put the time in.
If you want to hire out formatting, the cost will depend on the type and difficulty. Images will up the difficulty in any project, as will graphics like charts, table, multiple frames, etc.
For fiction ebook formatting, plan on $150-$250. For print formatting, plan on $200-$300. Most formatters will offer package pricing to do both at once.
Setup and Extra Help
Most authors with basic computer skills will be able to create their accounts and upload their documents without help. Those who run into problems or have limited computer skills or access, having someone tackle this part of the publishing process is available. An average cost is around $20/hour.
Production on a Tight Budget
If you are working with a small budget and want to do as much yourself as possible, be honest with yourself about your skill level in each category.
Learning to format in Word is a great way to cut costs. Designing your own book cover when you have no design experience is not. Start with a premade cover and upgrade when your budget isn’t as tight.
Editing your own book is extremely difficult. If you can’t afford a professional editor yet, trade with another author or see if a local teacher could help out for a lower fee.
The goal is putting out a professional product. Save money where you can, but not at the cost of putting out a subpar book.
Without a traditional publisher, what do indie authors need to handle on their own?
The list may be long, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Breaking everything down can help you decide which tasks to learn to do yourself and which to hire out.
I’ll break these down in the coming weeks, but here’s a broad list of what indie authors devote their time to when not writing:
These costs include editing (developmental, copy editing, proofreading), cover design, formatting, setup, distribution fees. Next week, I’ll break down costs for each of these as well as options for reducing the overall cost of book production.
Marketing includes building a plan and carrying it out, learning about paid advertising and booking ads, setting up and managing social media accounts, participating in online and in-person events, writing and sending out press releases, and much more.
When it comes to networking, it’s important to engage with the author community, join groups and lists, make friends for support, find beta readers or critique partners, and learn from others in the industry.
Collaborations that are popular right now include box sets, worlds, promo groups, etc. These collaborations help authors expand their audience and reach, as well as learn more about marketing and promotion.
Reaching out to media, stores, businesses, etc. is part of marketing, but for many people it’s a different skill than interacting on social media or booking ads. Different types of stores have different requirements for booking an author signing, and bookstores aren’t the only option for signings. Learning how to approach a business, radio station, newspaper, etc. the right way can make a difference in being accepted.
Without an agent or publisher, indie authors are often responsible for organizing their own signings, publicity events, participation in books fairs, speaking engagements, conferences, etc. Learning about what types of events are worth while, how to get involved, or what type of classes to submit to a conference can help you make solid plan.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be discussing each of these topics in more detail. Follow the blog to make sure you don’t miss a topic!