About the Author: KARA SWANSON spent her first sixteen years overseas in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, as the daughter of missionaries. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the Fantasy genre and was soon penning stories herself.
Hello, there! It’s such a pleasure to be a part of this online Writers’ Conference.
My name is Kara Swanson—I’m the author of YA Fantasy novels, and last year at twenty years old I independently released the INSPY Award Finalist novella, The Girl Who Could See. I sold hundreds of copies in the first two months alone, and signed with an agent shortly after the release partly due to the success of my novella. It has since won several cover awards, and consistently sells well and brings in reviews.
So, I know a little about this Indie Publishing journey. 🙂 I thought I would share my top five tips for what you need to know in order to release a book successfully.
Really? Let’s get to it—
1. First off—let’s talk about what Independent Publishing even is.
Independently Publishing basically means that you are releasing a novel yourself, independently (shocker, right? 😉 ), without the help of a Traditional Publishing House (companies that pay you an advance and a royalty sum in order to publish your book and do all of the editing and cover design and some of the marketing in house). This also excludes using Vanity Presses (companies that you pay to release your book) and Small Presses (Companies that help you release your novel, but often times without a very large advance—if any—and not always with the best quality). Indie Publishing means that you become your own publishing company. You find the editors, hire a cover designer, do your own marketing, upload to Amazon or wherever else you plan on selling copies, etc. You do it all, like the boss you are :)
2. Secondly—let’s talk about what may be the single most important step besides writing the book: editing.
You can have a fantastic cover, sell your book online and in brick and mortar bookstores, you can market it like a pro and get endorsements from dozens of NYT Best-Selling authors…but if you don’t take the time to edit it well, and you don’t put out a quality product, your book is not going to do well. Having a well written, well edited, professional-level manuscript is one of the few things that will set your book apart from the billions of other novels popping up on Amazon. A good book makes an impact. If your book is not polished and well edited, no matter how wonderful of a writer you are, readers are going to put it down because they struggled to get through. Maybe there were errors, plot holes, it was hard to digest, or a host of other problems that can occur without an editor. Putting in the time and effort to hire a good editor (or several!) is an investment that will have a hugely positive impact on the rest of your publishing journey.
3. Third on our list—I want to remind you of the importance of planning out every step of your Indie Publishing journey well.
This is far more important than you’d think. If you are not careful about how much time and effort you invest into the process, you can end up hurting your release more than helping it.
Picture this—you decide to put your book through six rounds of edits, and then set it up to release in three months. But, what happens when it comes to the night before the launch and you are still working through those last few rounds of edits? And barely manage to get the correct copy uploaded to Amazon on time? Or not at all?
Being certain to plan out how much time each step of the process will take is such an important facet of the Indie Publishing journey. And when it comes to planning out the publishing process, be sure to include the behind-the-scenes aspects of getting your book set up online or for print. For example, when formatting your book for uploading to Amazon or any of the other mediums, it is good to consider if you have the time to teach yourself how to format, or if it is worth it to hire someone who can quickly get your book formatted for release. You want to be able to take the time to do every aspect of the Indie process well.
4. Alright, next, I want to touch on what I think is the most fun part of the Independent Publishing process—the book cover.
Book covers sell books. They truly do—and one of the best ways to market your book is to have a fantastic cover. Professional-looking covers will capture attention and hold it, as well as make your marketing that much easier. Great book covers will cause buzz, they’ll win awards, they’ll beg to be picked up off a shelf—and then will make your book memorable. Finding a really quality book cover designer can be expensive, but it is definitely worth the cost. There are many cover designers (Mine, for example. Seedlings Design Studio) that are more affordable and still do an incredible job. Be sure to do your research, ask around, study other covers in your genre, and decide on the best candidate. A great book cover will sell books and capture readers long after they reach ‘the end’.
5. For our final point, let’s talk about the aspect of publishing that connects your book to its readers—Marketing.
Now, the term marketing can be a bit scary to a lot of aspiring Indies, but it’s all a part of the process. At its core, marketing is simply the process of forming connections with potential readers and showing them why your story resonates with their needs. It’s seeing someone else’s desires and preferences and hopes so that you can communicate why you are able to fill their need. Marketing can look like building up a social media presence so you can connect with other readers who enjoy your genre. It may mean getting to know other authors or attending Writers’ Conferences. It can entail running ads and being intentional in how you word posts and spread the news about your novel. It can include planning a fun Facebook Party to celebrate the launch of your novel, doing giveaways and featuring guest authors in order to draw in a crossover of readers. It is not just seeing book sales as a number—but as friends and fans and hearts. Marketing is about making connections with a whole world of readers who will be touched by the story you’ve been given to tell.
Well, there you have it! A brief summary of what I think are some of the most important things to keep in mind as you pursue Independently Publishing your novel, and releasing your words and passions into the world.
Was this post helpful to you? Any questions? Please feel free to comment below! I will do my best to respond to every comment. If you want to connect with me further, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and on my Website! See you there, storytellers changing the world with your words!
All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?
Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.
Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.
You can order The Girl Who Could See here! 😀