Sunday, June 26, 2011

Guest Post: Amber Scott

Me Want Food welcomes Amber Scott! If you want to guest blog, just drop a line at kspatwriter at yahoo.

Before New Authors Self-Publish: 5 Considerations
By Amber Scott © 2010

With all the changes happening in publishing, many authors, both new and established, are considering Independent Publishing as an alternative to traditional houses who buy conservatively and take few risks. I recently published my romantic comedy, Play Fling, on Smashwords and Scribd as an experiment to compare and contrast this avenue with my epublishing experiences. As my journey culminates, here are five considerations I think every author should make before committing their work to this new trend.

Public Domain: The great thing about Independent presses like Smashwords is the author maintains all rights and can remove their product at any time without penalty or difficulty. But, once you publish your book, whether by traditional or non-traditional means, it has become public domain. Once a work is public domain, traditional houses will not be interested in contracting it. Unless you have out of the ordinary success, turning a self-published novel into a contracted novel will be next to impossible.

Quality: We are often too close to our work to properly judge it. One of the reasons self-publishing has had less respect in the past is the quality of the writing. It used to be self-publishing product revealed the author wasn’t at a traditional publishing level of quality. No more. With bestselling authors taking charge of their backlist and going it alone, the standard has been raised. So, ask yourself, is the quality of your work the very best it can ever possibly be? How do you know? How many manuscripts have you completed, revised, submitted? How much publishing experience do you currently have? Have more than one person and at least one professional, non-biased person, edited your manuscript?

Promotion: Though presses like Smashwords are getting great distribution potential by affiliating with Amazon and Barnes and Noble, the responsibility of promotion will rest squarely on the author’s shoulders. This means ads, blogs, book trailers and other inventive ways to build name recognition and thereby sales. It means getting your work to reviewers, making strong and sincere industry connections, and making promotion as important as the work itself.

Distribution: With Smashwords, in order to qualify for Premium Distribution to Sony, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc., the manuscript has to be properly formatted. This means you will need to follow instructions and invest the time to, again, submit a quality product. It took me no more than minutes to format Play Fling and it got approved quickly, in days. But, I consider myself technically proficient and have heard horror stories of formatting taking hours. Good distribution will vastly improve your chances at good sales numbers. But, in the best of scenarios, it will take time. Patience will be crucial.

Expectations: If you go in it, hoping, even the tiniest part of you, that your book will fly off the shelf, stop. Unless you already have a substantial following with hundreds to thousands of devoted fans, immediate, large sales volume is unlikely. Which is fine. Building a career, be it through traditional, non-traditional or both, takes time. If you enter into this avenue for the money, you risk serious disappointment unless you are already a midlist author such as JA Konrath who very generously and candidly shares his sales numbers on his blog. Be in it to build.

Overall, the most important lesson self-publishing taught me is that there is no magical formula, no fast fix, no loopholes. Success is a consequence, not a goal. I write because I love to. I publish because sharing my world with others is more fulfilling than words can express. Building a career takes time, patience, imagination and a lot of luck. Hopefully, being informed will make these choices easier and, thereby, will make your journey more fun.

Off the fence and in the indie field? Be sure to check out “Dollars & Sense: The Definitive Guide to Self-publishing Success” by Carolyn McCray, Amber Scott and Rachel Thompson. June 29th it’s just 99 cents for Bestseller For a Day!!

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