Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Ups and Sucks of an Indie Writer - Part 2

Taking the Step

I’m not considered old, but I’m not that young, either. I remember the 96k modem (Or something to that number) When you went to a page, made a sandwich, and came back to see it was still loading.
            I remember when Yahoo! was the shit and ebay was still an infant. The days when you couldn’t go on to the internet without everyone in the house hearing the dial up squeal and being on a plan that limited your time not data usage.
            When ebooks were the dream of tomorrow and Rocket Book tried their hardest to break through and everyone said, ‘no’.
            So when a writer friend asked if I was ever going to try to put some stuff on Kindle, I acted cool and said, “Yeah, probably.”
            In my mind, what was this Kindle thing? Surely, it wouldn’t work. Little did I realize it was working and I was far behind the eight ball.
            I had fallen so far into the ‘I’m only gonna write and not publish’ trap, I wasn’t getting out. I stopped caring if I was published. I had reached that point. I wrote because I loved it.
            But the daily messages from Trev reminding me of Kindle and Smashwords got me to the point where I said, “Okay, fine, gees, I’ll do it” and I posted a book
            I fell off the wagon.
            3 years of wishful publishing sobriety was out the window.
The hours preparing queries became hours of going on forums and boards to learn what I needed to do. This wasn’t the case of trying to get a signing at a bookstore, this was a whole new playing field.
And, ah, yes,  the days when I’d run to the mailbox and nervously check if any of my SASE envelopes were returned were replaced with daily check ins to the Amazon dashboard to see if I sold a book.
            And of course, you know, I didn’t.
            Why? Because it wasn’t that simple. Or rather as simple as I believed.
            It’s a learning process and trust me, no amount of research is going to teach you what you learn as you go along. My mistakes taught me more than I ever read.
            Covers? They better look good.
            Interior of the book. Smashwords taught me that if you upload that pretty little WORD document 'as is', chances are you’ll have misaligned paragraphs, missing sections breaks, slash marks, giant words and other eyes sores.
            We’re not even getting into editing on this one. Lessons learned on that are a whole other blog.
            And promoting, getting your work out there and known. Sure you can upload it to Amazon, but who is going to know? I once uploaded a book to Smashwords and was number 6,754 in line for processing. Are you freaking serious? That many books in one day? Good Lord the competition.
            When my starry eyed writer mind would dream of getting published, big or small, I believed that was it. They’d do all the work and I’d sit back in the glory of being that published writer.
            Truth is, unless you win the luck of the “We are going to make you famous” draw at one of the big houses, you have to do all the footwork yourself. You heard of the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes, right? Well, it’s similar to that at the big boys. Eenie Meeni Miny Moe. Yeah, we’re gonna promote the hell out of you. Oh, who cares if you can’t write, we’ll say you can. Who cares if your books doesn’t have punctuation or real paragraphs, we’ll say it’s art. Who cares if your prose is just plain bad, we’ll tell them it’s brilliancy. And the public will buy it because we’re shoving it on the front table of every bookstore.
            A lot of the public doesn’t buy it, it is evident via reviews, but those reviews get buried.
            But if you’re not one of the mega promoted authors, you spend your time doing so much work promoting. For what? 10%.
            At least with Indie publishing you keep 35 – 70%.
            But you have to sell a book to get that percentage, and for most of us, it’s a lot of work. A lot of time spent getting people to listen. And there’s a fine line between humble self promotion and being an annoying, self absorbed jerk off.
            A good book will eventually sell, it takes time (For the most part) it may not sell a lot, but it will.
            And once it does … you open the door to another avenue and that avenue can be a very hard, painful road to take.

Tomorrow Part 3 – Visions of Indies and Bad Reviews.


  1. Damn, Jackie. You expressed a lot of my own frustrations exactly. Before I was published, a famous writer once told me to enjoy writing now, because once I made it into print writing would be a luxury since all my time would be spent pimping myself.

  2. I have to laugh (sadly) at your description of clicking, going downstairs to eat, then coming back to see if the page has uploaded yet. Why? Lightning took out our two-year-old $140 wireless router, so we had to buy a new one. This one was $50, supposed to be lightning-fast, can handle having three or more computers linked to it. HA. It's taking several minutes to load a page. Facebook loads, but it shows no photos. It takes five minutes to load an Amazon page.


  3. I feel your router pain. Ever since my router went out in a storm and we fixed it, I can't watch youtube videos until after 2 am. As far as facebook goes .... two words.

    Google Chrome. For some reason it's so basic it loads everything fast.