What is Indie publishing?
What is Indie publishing? In the past there were two main routes to publishing - through a traditional publisher or through a vanity press. With the advent on e-books, print-on-demand, and online sales, it's become more and more viable for authors to become their own publishers. This means much more than finishing a book and then banging it up with a cover and no editing or proofing on somewhere like Amazon (though that can happen). A serious Indie publisher is committed to producing a quality book with professional covers, with well edited and structured content that will connect with readers.
Like most authors, my aim was to be traditionally published. I became involved in Indie publishing through writing short stories and anthologies, first with some hands on involvement with the publication of the Tied in Pink anthology (which included my story, The Herbalist's Daughter) in 2014 and then publishing two anthologies in December 2015 - Let the Sea Roar (editor Madeline Calcutt) and Glimpses of Light (editors Jeanette O'Hagan and Nola Passmore). In 2016 I decided to publish a couple of the short stories and then a novella - Heart of the Mountain. The rest, as they say, is history.
Interview - Pros and Cons of Indie Publishing:At the recent Omega Writers Toowoomba Retreat I was invited to be on the three-woman panel (along with Anne Hamilton and Ruth Bonetti) about Indie Publishing. Nola Passmore asked us a number of questions and it was great to get three different perspectives as well as to answer questions from the audience. I've reproduced my answers I'd prepared to the questions below.
‘The Road to Self-Publishing’ Panel
Sat 8 June 2019
Nola: Very briefly, tell us what you have self-published and the genre/s.
Jeanette: Of my own books
The five novella series Under the Mountain. The first book Heart of the Mountain published in 2016 & the last book, Caverns of the Deep released last month.
Akrad’s Children – first novel in the Akrad’s Legacy series
And a collection of short stories Ruhanna’s Flight and Other Stories
I’ve also been involved as either editor, proof-reader, & /or publisher of a number of anthologies
Glimpses of Light - editor (with Nola Passmore) & also publisher
Let the Sea Roar – editor Madeleine Calcutt, I assisted & also published the book
& I helped Victoria Carnell publish her first edition of The Call of the Wattle Bird.
Nola: What led you to take the self-publishing route?
Jeanette: I have a few reasons:
The opportunities to be noticed and accepted by a traditional publisher are extremely limited
I like having creative control and while a Indie publisher takes on the brunt of financial commitments up front, they also receive a greater percentage of royalties in the long run, and are not restricted to the publishers timetable and/or change in direction or focus.
Nola: What tasks did you do yourself in the production of the book/s and what tasks did you outsource? Can you provide tips (or lessons learned) from your involvement in any of those tasks? Any useful resources?
Jeanette: The tasks I do are:
- Write the book & Initial edits
- Get ISBNs, & register with Library Catalogue, Goodreads etc.
- Format both e-book & the print book
- Cover (in most cases)
- Uploading the book to Amazon, Draft2Digital, Ingram Spark
- Send legal copies to National Library of Australia (NLA) & State Library
- Launch, promotion, special offers
- I also want to work on distribution - to schools, libraries and bookshops.
And I outsource:
- Editing & Proofreading
- Cover (in one case)
I will say that it's important to outsource at least some of the editing and proofing as it's important to get other eyes on the manuscript.
Nola: What costs were involved in producing the book? How did you fund the project?
Jeanette: For me the main costs are:
- Pay for professional editing, proof-reading (this is the biggest cost but important not to skimp)
- Paying for ISBNs
- Set-up costs with Ingram Spark (a Print on Demand publisher with a printer in Australia)
- Software costs
- Cost of giveaways – especially print books for reviews or promotional opportunities or giveaways (most will take ebooks),
- Admin /Promotion costs – such as POBox subscription, domain name, website hosting, Book Funnel subscription, etc.
- Also for events & fairs – Table hire costs, Insurance (Duck for Cover), travel & accommodation for book tables at conventions like Supernova or the Omega Writers Book Fair – and a kind gift from one good friend.
- Advertising – I’ve done a small amount of Facebook Ads but haven’t had the time or budget to invest in this as yet.
To cover these costs, I’ve invested my own available spending money, cashed some shares, also I’ve done some occasional paid editing & formatting. And I do get some royalties from online sales, one anthology & conventions.
It helps if you have some upfront resources to invest, though there are ways to bypass or reduce some of the costs without skimping on quality - but it generally means more time commitment and slower progress. Of course, with God all things are possible.
Nola Passmore: According to Jane Friedman, an author platform is ‘an ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach’. What is the most useful or effective thing you’ve done to build your platform and/or market your book/s?
If I discount the early anthologies (Glimpses of Light & Let the Sea Roar) – then it’s a tie between early online Facebook launches & Conventions – like Supernova and Oz Comic Con.
Nola: You’re all Christian authors, though not all of you were publishing material that was explicitly Christian. What role did your faith play in your publishing journey?
I felt a clear lead from God that this was what he wanted me to do. While my books are aimed for the general market (and I’ve had many non-Christians read and appreciate my books), I write intentionally from a Christian framework and themes. Faith also keeps me going when I feel discouraged.
Nola: What can readers and other writers do to support Indie authors?
Glad you asked :)
Much the same as any author.
- Pray & encourage them
- Beta read if requested or critique groups
- Buy – or borrow their books (& if not in local library or bookstore or school, ask if they can be ordered) & read them :) (Okay, so my to-read piles are huge - but I enjoy reading other Indie and Small Press authors).
- Maybe buy their books for friends and family as gifts.
- Recommend their books to friends, family, other readers – both in person and online
- Review and/or blog about their books.
- Subscribe to their newsletter or patreon
- Like their FB pages, Twitter or Instagram – like, comment, share or retweet their posts. Follow them on Amazon Central, Bookbub, Goodreads. Add their books to appropriate Goodreads lists and/or ask questions.
- Attend and participate in launches.
Thanks Nola for some great questions and the opportunity to share a little of the Indie journey which can be exhilarating, moving, lots of fun, discouraging and exhausting but always worthwhile. We walk by faith, not by sight. So as someone blessed me today by saying 'Jenny, keep writing' so I say 'Keep writing.'
Jeanette O'Hagan spun tales in the world of Nardva from the age of eight. She enjoys writing fantasy, sci-fi, poetry, and editing. Her Nardvan stories span continents, millennia and cultures. Some involve shapeshifters and magic. Others include space stations, plasma rifles and cyborgs.
Her stories and poems have also been published in over twenty anthologies - including The Quantum Soul, Challenge Accepted and Tales of Magic and Destiny in 2019, as well as her Under the Mountain series and Akrad's Children, the first book in the Akrad's Legacy series.
Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.
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