Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Indie Experience (So Far...) by Elle Bright

copyright 2013, Elle Bright

I am a new, independently published author. My first book, FALL OF DARKNESS, was released in e-book format via Kindle Direct Publishing earlier this month. The paperback will be available in the near future on Amazon and Createspace, as well as other distributors. I am often asked why I chose independent publishing over traditional. Though I remain unsure whether it was the right decision for me, there were several reasons why I pursued the independent route.

First, I wanted complete control over my book. It’s my story and I wanted to tell it my way, without interference from a third party. I wanted to break the rules and take chances. Second, my other writing friends were doing it, with remarkable results. They made it sound so easy. Well, I’ve learned a thing or two since then. Third, honestly, I was terrified of rejection. I’d heard the horror stories regarding the pursuit of a traditional publisher and I wanted no part of it. I thought I could buffer myself against the pain of rejection, if I put my work out there for the right audience to find it. Little did I know, the greatest challenge would be actually getting people to read it.

So, what do I know now that I wish I’d known then? The answer is, a lot. First off, independent publishing sounds easy. Go ahead and write a book, load it up, and send it out to the waiting masses. Yeah, right. If only it worked that way.  Here in the real world, self publishing is a lot of work. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. As with exercise, if it’s not hard, you’re probably not doing it right.

First off, formatting is a beast. I still haven’t mastered the format for the digital copy of my first e-book. There’s a steep learning curve, but there’s also a wonderful support system in the online forums. I will conquer the e-book. Once you’ve managed the e-book format, you have to create a separate one for the physical copy. Gutters are my worst nightmare. Even if you follow the instructions given, you will probably go through several proofs before your book is print-ready. Sure, you can pay someone else to format it for you, but most of us who are just starting out don’t have the budget.

I really enjoyed creating my cover. I have a basic knowledge of Photoshop and already had a specific design in mind. What I didn’t enjoy was the constant revamping and tweaking that followed. A word of advice, just because it looks gorgeous on your screen, doesn’t mean it will look good everywhere else. Color and light vary from screen to screen and can appear totally different in print. Get a physical copy before you publish.

Editing is one of the challenges that most writers tend to underestimate. I know I did. I have read my book so many times that I’m sick of it. I have edited and edited the thing to death. Yet, when I handed it over to my reviewers, it was still far from perfect. I made another round of edits based on their feedback, but my copy editor friend still found several corrections. All too often, we put our work out there without giving it proper review. Polish your words until they shine, then get more eyes to look at them. Readers often lose patience with a poorly edited story.

Marketing is another major hurdle for independent authors. I assumed that if I wrote a good story, people would find it and buy it. Little did I know, marketing requires quite a bit of time and effort. I used to consider Facebook a guilty pleasure and a major waste of time, now I consider it the marketing time vortex. I can sit in front of my computer for hours, interacting with readers and other writers, all the while promoting my work. There are so many amazing people in the writing community. I have reaped many benefits from the virtual support system and the wealth of knowledge out there. My marketing plan is still in progress, but I have noticed one particularly useful tool. Bloggers.

Make friends with bloggers who follow your genre. Guest posts, reviews, and promos on multiple blogs help to spread your reach over a larger readership, granting more exposure. Provide your bloggers with advanced reader copies (ARC’s) in exchange for honest reviews. It’s a great way to get your name out there. Reviews sell books. The more objective reviews you have, the more desirable your book will appear. Personally, I selected people I didn’t know to read and review my ARC’s, because I feared my family and friends might struggle with remaining objective. I feel this lends more credibility to my reviews. Words can’t express how amazing it feels to hear back from a perfect stranger who loved your work. They have no reason to sugar-coat it, so their praise is all the more valuable.

The independent publishing route is not for everyone. There are those who have found success, but many have not. I’m anxious to see which direction my writing takes. Regardless, I am proud to have my work out there. I have held a book that I wrote in my hands. I’ve basked in the warmth of glowing reviews. For me, there is no greater reward. Best of luck and warm regards.

- Elle Bright

Born and raised in Utah, Elle has since moved around with her husband's military career. She currently lives in San Diego, CA with her husband, three children, and their part human border collie.

She received her BSN from Grand Canyon University in Arizona. As a practicing Registered Nurse, she specializes in Pediatrics, Neonatal Intensive Care, and Emergency Medicine. When not working, writing, or parenting, she enjoys reading, running, singing, dancing, traveling, shopping, photography, Zumba, and digital scrapbooking. She is a proud member of the Romance Writers of America.

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Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Welcome, Elle! It's a pleasure to have you here today. Your experience is one many young/new authors debate about - I'm sure they will learn from your post. Thanks for being on Murderby4 and best wishes with your new book!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

P.S. I absolutely love your cover art, and that photo of you is very striking. Your artistic nature shines through!

Unknown said...

Thank you, Aaron. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to guest post and am flattered by the positive reponses my writing has received so far.