Today’s post is by Geoffrey Breedon who wrote the fabulous ‘Wizard of Time’, a book I recommend for all YA fantasy fans. It’s a great book for both boys and girls and for readers both younger and older than teens. Read my review here.
Take it away Geoffrey.
After having three novels rejected by every agent who worked with YA fantasy and every YA fantasy publisher that would accept unagented submissions, I decided to follow the indie route and publish my novels myself.
There were some key best practices I picked up as I researched indie publishing and as I tried to implement them, I learned some lessons of my own:
Business: Treat indie publishing your novel like a business – because it is. I have been coordinating corporate events for the last 15 years, so thankfully, I knew how to create a production schedule and stick to it.
- Research: Do your research early on, so you know what the whole process will be like, what to expect, and what you will need to do at each stage. I found “Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author” by Zoe Winters to be a great outline of the whole indie publishing process.
- Goals: Define what your goals are and create a business plan to outline the steps you’ll need to take to realize them.
- Story: Make sure the story is as well told as possible – plot, characters, etc. I try to do most of the hard work of writing in the pre-writing stage. I plot the novel then replot the novel and then plot the novel again.
- Editing: Make sure the writing is as strong as possible. Editing and re-editing is essential. From what I have read, real editing is hard to come by in even traditional publishing these days. I highly recommend “Self Editing for Fiction Writers” by Dave King and Renni Browne.
- Proofing: Proof the text repeatedly and then pay someone else to proof the text. I had two editors to check my writing a proof the manuscript. One a friend and one I paid. If I could have afforded it, I would have hired a third just to check it again after I had done the final read.
- Cover: The cover should be eye catching, relate to the story in some way, and look good as a thumbnail on websites. I’m lucky to have some Photoshop skills and a wife with a good eye for design. If I didn’t, I’d have had to pay someone to design a cover. And it would have been money well spent.
- Product Description: Write a short, clear, engaging description of the story for the product description. I rewrote my description a number of times, trying to get it to convey the story, the main character and some excitement and mystery, without getting into too much detail.
- Formatting: Correct formatting is important – you want your novel to look good when people read it, so make sure it is formatted correctly. I hate formatting, but I’m too cheap to pay someone else and it helps to catch mistakes.
- Branding: Create a website to function as Brand Central for you, your novel, and all you future writing. I used WordPress and adjusted a template to create something clean and simple.
- Blogging/Twittering: Create a blog/Twitter page and find something you enjoy blogging/tweeting about that will attract potential readers. Then blog/tweet regularly. I write sci-fi and fantasy novels, so I blog/tweet about sci-fi and fantasy and anything that might attract readers of those genres.
- Social media: Get to networking. Create a Facebook page, participate at Goodreads, Shelfari, Librarything, the Amazon Kindleboards. Don’t try to advertise. Be yourself and discuss the books you like – because those books probably resemble the ones you write. The hardest part for me is that this essential social media activity takes precious time away from the very necessary work of writing and editing.
- Book bloggers: There are people who like to read novels and write reviews about them. They are like angels for writers. Write them a polite email and ask of they would like to review your novel. They will even let post guest blogs on their sites. Talk to the angels.
- Product line: The best way to sell a lot of novels is to have a lot of novels to sell. Write, edit, publish, repeat. I’ll be publishing the first novel in another YA fantasy series called The Young Sorcerer’s Guild soon, I’ve written a sequel to it, and I’m starting on the sequel to The Wizard of Time.
- Pace Yourself: Indie publishing is a lot of work. Far more than I imagined, and I was imaging it to be a ton. Don’t push too hard. Be patient. I make myself take breaks to recharge my productive and creative batteries. I keep reminding myself that I have a five-year plan and that everything that needs to get done will – just not all at once.
Thanks Geoffrey, for that great advice. I hope my readers will support you and your family by buying your book and spreading the word. The book deserves to do well.
After a childhood spent whizzing through the galaxy in super sleek starships and defeating treacherously evil monsters in long forgotten kingdoms, I grew up to write science fiction and fantasy novels. I live with my wife in Brooklyn, NY.