The (overwhelming) truth about releasing an indie book

The (Overwhelming) Truth About Releasing an Indie Book

It’s been a wild 9 days.

Wow. Only 9 days?!

After dipping my toes into the self-publishing world, I released my first full-length novel on January 15th. There were a few differences this time, like that I chose wide distribution (making my book available at many retailers) instead of just Amazon.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. Mistakes will be made.

There will never be enough time for last minute read-throughs (and there will be last minute read-throughs). Typos will sneak in, details will be overlooked, and if you’re lucky, you’ll notice them before it’s too late. But guess what? It still won’t be perfect.

Authors with proofreaders, editors, beta-readers and every other professional tool still have mistakes in their books. Traditionally published books have them, too. Take a deep breath, accept it and make a note for your next update. As an indie author, you can change anything you need to.

2. Formatting will be your biggest Challenge.

Accept that the version of your manuscript you format for Amazon KDP will look different than files from other programs (if you use Amazon’s preferred Kindle Create program). Other booksellers may not allow set fonts for chapter titles and other special touches.

This is why I have different editions noted in my copyright page, depending on the bookseller. I list the differently formatted edition as Kindle Edition, Smashwords Edition and a generic digital edition for others without special formatting (Smashwords actually requires the formatting and the language both). I had to do it this way, in the end. Trying to keep my tidy chapter headings and title page only led to frustration and some emails back and forth with customer service.

File converters are not perfect. My chapter headers in particular looked weird when put through the file format converters, and in some cases had unsightly (unprofessional) indents. The end result was not at all like my KDP file. I was ultimately referred to a professional formatter by one site (not in the budget just yet, but looking more appealing all the time!).

Not simple but necessary: File converters can result in unexpected complications—and headaches.

Some file converters offer more options and instructions, though. If you choose a distributor like Smashwords, you will need to save some time to format to their style guide because of it. There is a literal style guide available for download, and while reading it (and obeying it) is very necessary, it’s not as bad as it looks on the outset.

Bonus: when I had formatting issues with another distributor, uploading a version of my file that had received the Smashwords treatment helped resolve some of the formatting issues.

3. It will take longer than you think…and you’ll Wish you could go back to just writing

Okay. Take another deep breath. I am currently in this stage myself. It will all be okay. Soon enough, you’ll be back to endless rounds of editing and trying to remember that perfect word you need, which may or may not actually exist.

The advice from, oh, everywhere, is that practically no writer gets excited about working on their platform. We’re writers. Writing is what we want to do.

Book releases are like platform-building on overdrive.

While I’m still stuck playing catch-up on the promotional whatnot of my book release, I know I’ll be writing again soon. Lack of patience is my biggest weakness as a writer. I suspect that’s true of a lot of creative people, not just writers. If you’re excited about what you do, new ideas and working on what’s next, the last thing you want bogging you down is a W9 and ads that just don’t pop.

For some strange reason, all of that is part of the job, though. And a lot of it will be an ongoing project, just like the books you write.

So take one more deep breath, think of all the skills you’ve acquired in your years of writing, and remind yourself that these are just a few more.

Cheers! And good luck to all you writers out there.


P.S.: As proof that indie writers have more flexibility, my book has a new cover! Stay tuned for the cover reveal for the sequel to Girl of Shadow and Glass, Girl of Glass and Fury.