I’d been keeping an eye on the growing independent author market—in particular tracking the progress of my friend Joe Konrath—and I realized probably in late 2009/early 2010 it was the future. I was still writing books for my New York publisher at the time, so I wasn’t yet ready to dive in. Once I’d delivered my last book to them, I knew it was time to give the burgeoning ebook market a closer look. My plan was to write one novel my agent could shop around to publishers, and another I would release directly as an independently published ebook. What ended up happening was that I published both as ebooks (mainly because it made the most sense), and I’ve basically not looked back.
Part of the allure of this new avenue for me has been how quickly I can get my work into the hands of readers. Before, it could take a year to a year and half between when I finished a novel and when my publisher would bring it out. Now it is only a matter of weeks. I LOVE that. Plus, I am no longer limited to one novel a year. As someone who is pretty prolific, this is huge. Since April, I’ve released five novels, one novella, and three short stories. I’m planning to put out two more novels by Christmas, and at least four next year. I would never have been able to do that if I hadn’t jumped into the independent world with both feet.
That was actually pretty easy. Amazon.com, of course. That continues to be the place where I have the majority of my sales. They also distribute to Amazon UK and Amazon Germany, which is great. I also release my books directly through Barnesandnoble.com for Nook readers. The last place I use is Smashwords.com, which, in addition to selling my titles on their site, also distribute them to Apple’s iBooks and a few other ebook sites.
Well, if you’re taking the independent route, you have to think of yourself as a small business owner—because that’s exactly what you are—and have now taken on all the duties your publisher, if you had one before, used to do.
First and foremost, though, you need to write the best book you can. If that means rewriting it over and over, then so be it. Next, your book needs to be edited, especially if you’ve never gone through a formal editing process before. I can’t stress this enough: Get someone who understands story and novels to look everything over and give you notes. Listen to those notes and don’t always think you know best. At the same time, you can have a designer working on your cover, which is an extremely important part of the book. A bad cover, even digitally, will kill a book’s chances at success. If you have to, pay a little extra to get someone who knows what they’re doing. After the story editing is done and you’ve made whatever revision you’re going to make, you MUST (must, must, must!) have your book copy edited/proofread. I would advise hiring a professional copy editor/proofreader and not relying on friends or family. While those you love might have a knack for finding missing words, etc., the professionals know what to look for and will go over your manuscript with a fine tooth comb.
Okay, editing done and cover ready, now it’s time to format your book. There are a lot of people out there who you can pay to do this for you (myself included, though I’m not trying to push anyone that way.) Yes, you can format yourself, but there’s a definite learning curve. So if you don’t have the time, hire someone. They will give you a .prc file for Amazon, and an .epub file for Barnes & Noble, oh, and if you’re using Smashwords, a specifically formatted word .doc for that. Once you have the formatted files back, you’re ready to upload and put your books on sale!
The thing is, like any small business, you’re going to have to invest some money.
Everything takes work and time. But it’s not impossible or even super difficult. The hardest part will always be writing the book. The rest you’ll have others who can help you.
What I mentioned above…being able to get the books to readers quickly, and not being confined by the amount of work I can publish at a given year. It is incredibly freeing.
Not really sure. All of it’s better than not publishing at all. I guess it would be great if I didn’t have to do as much of the publicity, but, frankly, even with my traditionally published novels, I had to do a lot of that, so nothing’s changed.
I just love the freedom and the possibilities.
About Brett Battles:
Brett Battles is the Barry Award winning author of eight novels—including THE
CLEANER, THE SILENCED, LITTLE GIRL GONE, SICK, THE PULL OF GRAVITY, and his first novel for younger readers, HERE COMES MR. TROUBLE—one novella, BECOMING QUINN, and several short stories. He is one of the founding members of Killer Year, and a member of International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime.
Little Girl Gone is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords
Becoming Quinn is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords
The Pull of Gravity is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords