A few readers have asked me why I opted to independently publish my photography book, My Morning View. There are two main reasons. First, I wanted to try something different. Second, photography books are difficult to get traditionally published. I decided to forgo the rejection letters and independently publish my new book. Today, I’m going to share what I’ve learned from indie publishing. Please keep in mind, many books have been written about this topic. In this article you will find tips, a brief FAQ, and additional resources.
Let’s get started!
Make the decision to begin. Starting a book can be the hardest step. For example, I didn't plan on creating a book when I began the My Morning View photography series. My intent was to start the day with a creative activity. By the end of 2013, an outline of the book began to form in my mind. The idea emerged organically, and it didn’t feel forced or rushed. I love when that happens!
“Going it alone” is a myth. Whether you independently or traditionally publish a book, there is no such thing as “going it alone.” To create a beautiful book, you need a community that will support you. Your community can help you with editing, cover design, lay-out, marketing, and more.
Hire a team to help you. I'm grateful that I was able to traditionally publish You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s Cheap). My publisher — New World Library — was wonderful! They helped me create a lovely book that I could not have created without their support. My experience with traditional publishing made me appreciate how much work goes into creating a book. Writing a book is the first step, but there is a lot more to the process.
Pursuing the indie route meant I needed help with the book-making process. For example, I knew I could organize the book into a first draft. However, I needed help with editing, cover design, interior layout, font choices, and converting the book into a digital format.
My friend Chris O'Byrne has edited my e-books, e-courses, and other material in the past. Now, he runs JETLAUNCH; a company that helps authors publish their books. They provide editing, design, and marketing services. I trust Chris, and I wanted the JETLAUNCH team to help me edit, design, and publish My Morning View.
Edit your work and ask for help. I learned about the power of editing during my undergraduate and graduate education. I'm thankful that my professors marked up my papers, essays, and other written words with a BIG red pen. Receiving feedback taught me to accept criticism, not to take myself seriously, and to ask for help. For instance, before I sent my manuscript to the JETLAUNCH team, I asked a few people to read my first draft. They caught errors and made awesome content suggestions. Asking for help is very important!
Find a promotion strategy that works for you. Over the last few years, I’ve learned to listen to my instinct and to do what feels right when I promote my books. That might sound woo-woo, but it works for me. When I promote my books, I share information on this website, on social media sites, and via guest posts or interviews. You don’t have to spam people to get your message out into the world.
Publishing books is tricky. I never know if a book will sell or if it will bomb. Covering my editing and design costs is ideal; however, it’s not guaranteed. I don’t let those facts deter me, though. I had fun creating My Morning View, and I hope it will help and inspire readers. If I can do that, the book will be a success.
My experience with traditional and indie publishing has been fantastic. I believe either option is viable for authors. Before you decide to publish a book, do your research, understand your options, and think about how you are going to help readers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Last week, I asked folks on Twitter and Facebook if they had questions about the indie publishing process. I included a few of those questions below.
What processes do you recommend I pay for (editing, cover art, conversion)? And how much should I expect to pay? At a minimum, pay for a good editor. In addition, make sure you understand the difference between content edits and copyedits. If you want help with content and copyediting, your editing costs will increase.
I can’t tell you how much you should expect to pay. It depends on how much work your book needs. As I mentioned before, I don’t have copyediting skills or a design eye. I needed help with editing, cover design, interior layout, and converting my book to the Kindle. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses as an author is very important.
How do you work out free-for-limited-time deals, and how do you get your work listed as a Daily Deal offer on Amazon? I don't think it's possible to get yourself listed on Amazon’s Daily Deals. Amazon has a specific formula for Daily Deals, and I don’t know what it is. KDP Select is a great resource for free and limited time deals, including their Countdown Deals program.
What about the stigma of indie publishing versus the traditional route? The landscape of publishing is changing, and I don’t see a stigma attached to indie publishing anymore. As a reader, I don’t care if a book is independently or traditionally published. I want to read books that are thoughtful, well edited, and well designed. Authors can easily do that with a traditional publisher, or they can go the indie route. Before publishing your book, educate yourself about the book-making process and your options.
In addition, my friend Courtney made an excellent point about the publishing world. She said, “Just because you are rejected by traditional publishers doesn't mean you have a bad book idea. There are so many reasons for rejection (audience size, market saturation, publisher niche, intern reviewing proposal is having a bad day). In other words, don't let the rejection prevent you from exploring and even executing the idea."
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Also, check out JETLAUNCH’s services!