Publishers Who Prey, Part Three: How I Do It

The term, “self-publishing,” says how I do it. I am the publisher, which means I have total control of my work, which means I go through many of the same steps traditional publishers do.

My Nine Steps to Self-publishing

Step One       

I buy my International Standard Book Number (ISBN) from bowker.com. ISBNs are your book’s unique identifying number. They help buyers identify you as the author and enable places such as libraries to order your book. Bowker is the only legitimate company in the United States where these important numbers can be purchased.                        

Some self-publishers, such as Amazon KDP, will provide an ISBN for you for free. However, if Amazon provides the number, authors aren’t allowed to have their own imprint, but Amazon does give authors the option to use their own ISBN and imprint when they publish their books.   

Step Two

I write my book and revise and revise and revise till I’m happy with it. In other words, I strive to write the best book I can.

Step Three

I submit my work to beta readers, those readers who read objectively and offer sound advice. I’ve written a blog about beta readers that discusses how to find the right one. Visit it at: https://wordpress.com/post/theauthorscove.com/2050

Step Four

I hire a professional freelance editor to review my book and offer suggestions for improvement. Because each genre has its own rules, it’s important to find one who is knowledgeable about your genre and era. In historical fiction, for example, lots of narrative exposition is more acceptable than in other genres, such as thrillers.

Photo by Shamia Casiano on Pexels.com

Step Five

Taking the editor’s advice into consideration and using what’s helpful, I make more changes. Since we’re all human, it’s easy to overlook things such as punctuation and spelling errors, so I proofread again.

Step Six

I hire a good cover designer. Some of the companies I mentioned in my previous post do cover designs, but I hire my own because covers are hugely important. They’re the reader’s first impression of your book. A good cover encourages readers to look inside your book and perhaps even buy it.

I also hire a professional to format my book. A short while back, I did something I’ve never done before. I took a book I’d purchased back to the bookstore for a refund. I bought it because it dealt with a subject I had an interest in. I returned it because the formatting was bad, which led me to believe the author was an amateur. The writing wasn’t that great either.

For any who may be interested, my cover designer and the one who formats my books can be found at this website: www.teddiblack.com. I have used Teddi and Megan for many years.

Step Seven

Once step six is done, I proofread again, make suggestions for changes to my formatter and when  I’m happy with the result, I upload my book on Amazon  KDP.

Step Eight

After the book is published, I record it in my Bowker account beside the ISBN number I’d purchased.      

Step Nine

I send two copies of my book to the Copyright Office. Why? Because it’s the law. The Copyright Office gives authors three months to do this.

Although it’s not required, I register my book with the Copyright Office. According to copyright law, once a work is in fixed form it’s automatically copyrighted. Registration just gives the work a little more legal protection and more money if the author sues someone who plagiarized him.

Well, folks, this is how I do it. Till next week, y’all.

Indie versus Traditional Publishing: My Thoughts on the Subject

Books

cat and booksMany years ago, what I often call those “typewriter days,” I taught a writing class where I often warned my students about subsidy publishers. I always advised going the traditional route. What is a subsidy publisher? It’s a company that promises huge royalties (such as seventy percent of the retail price) and makes its authors pay thousands of dollars to be published. It’s not illegal, because these companies do follow-through with their publishing commitments.

However, no bookstores stock their books, which explains why they can promise huge royalties. Why don’t bookstores carry their titles? Because, so long as authors pay them, they publish every manuscript submitted to them regardless of the book’s literary quality. These publishers make money off the author, not off the few customers who buy their books.

As for traditional publishers, their royalty payments usually start at ten percent of a book’s retail price. Also, they don’t accept every manuscript that crosses their editors’ desks. Always on the lookout for well-written, marketable books, nowadays these publishers also consider the size of an author’s platform.

For some traditional publishers an author’s platform is the first thing they consider, something I recently learned at a writers’ conference. During the typewriter days, these publishers usually looked at an author’s literary background and bylines first. Oh, how things have changed!

Balanced Publishing

Fast forward to the “internet days.” Along came Amazon, Book Baby, Lulu, and similar self-publishers. Now anyone can have their work published. Because I’ve been published both ways, traditional and indie, I see advantages and disadvantages to each approach. So, why not go both routes? I would, and I do. Let some books find a traditional publisher, and let others be indie-published. This is a good balance between the two, I think.

What I love most about being indie published, though, is its freedom. Freedom to write what I want, and freedom from worry about query letters, synopses, outlines, searching for agents, etc. I know my book will be published…by me! Thus, I can focus even more on the quality of my writing. And herein lies the main problem I see with numerous indie books—so many are poorly written.

It’s imperative that we indie authors produce quality material written at a professional level. Amateur writing not only reflects badly on us, it also reflects badly on the self-publishing industry, and it hinders our chances that customers will purchase our future books.

Read the next section for tips on how to be a good indie author.

How to be a Good Indie Author

1. Study hard. Just because it’s become easier to get published doesn’t mean everyone    should do it. Study the craft, practice the craft. Take writing classes, subscribe to writing magazines, read websites that discuss writing. We must learn everything we can about it.

2. Work hard. Revision holds the key to literary excellence but unless we know what things to look for, which comes through study, we won’t know what to change. Never be satisfied with a first, second, or even a third draft. Once we’ve finished our work, put it aside for a few weeks then return to it. It always surprises me how many things I catch that need fixing when I do this. Input from those in writers’ groups also helps.

3. Get bylines. What’s a byline? It’s the author’s name on a published work. When we reach the point where we can sell our work to traditional magazines and such, we know we’re starting to write at a professional level. It is then that we should consider going indie. This, of course, is my own opinion.

4. Find professionals. Once we’ve honed our manuscript to the best of our ability,  hire these three professionals for the final touches: (1) Freelance editors, (2) cover designers, and (3) interior formatters.

Freelance Editors–If spelling and grammatical errors riddle our prose, our book   shouts “amateur” at the top of its lungs. Another benefit of good freelance  editors?  They’ll offer us honest feedback that will help us improve our work.

Cover Designers–Don’t underestimate a book cover’s importance. Good covers prompt potential readers to open our book and consider purchasing it.

Interior Formatters–Finally, if the book’s interior formatting is shoddy, “amateur” once again sounds loud and clear.

Where’s a good place to find these professionals? I recommend upwork.com.

Well, much more could be said on this subject. I may have more to say in future posts. Meanwhile, what are your thoughts on this subject?

Till next time, folks. Have a great week!