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Tough Love Tips for Indie Authors on how to…

Indie authors are people who publish books at their own expense, and generally sell less than 100 copies for their trouble. You’d think a group like this would be small in number, but quite the opposite.

In its report, “Self-Publishing in the United States, 2013-2018: Print and E-books,” the total number of self published titles in 2018 was 1.68 million.

I added to that tally with three of my own flops. Here’s what I wish I’d known before I self-published. 

Good books adhere to an outline: The majority of self-published authors are pantsers. This means they fly by the seat of their pants, losing control of the plot. People want to read a story that’s well-put together, makes sense and is satisfying from beginning to end. I recommend the Snowflake method for your outline.

Story craft matters No matter how good a writer you are, no one’s born knowing how to climb to 100,000 words with the perfect amount of suspense. Save the Cat! taught me how to structure a story like a movie, and I never looked back.

Beta readers should be strangers: Your friends will probably never get around to reading your book. Only your mother will, and she might feel uncomfortable seeing raw, racy prose. Find a book club, cheap review service, or grad student to read your manuscript. Ask them to be brutally honest!

Do TWO edits: one comprehensive, one grammar check: The editor is going to rip your book a new a*#hole. When you go in yourself to implement all her/his changes, you’re going to miss a lot. Pay her again to do a far less expensive 2nd run-through.

It’s best to build a social media following first: It’s all here in this article about what the author of 50 Shades did before she sold a million copies of her book. It’s not my favorite, but, hey, she has a bestseller and I don’t so hat’s off.

Amazing elevator pitch: Could you tell a person in an elevator going from ground floor to the top of the building what your book is about, and keep them engaged? If you can’t, you should probably table the project until you’ve thought about it some more.

Secure pre-sale book reviews: Email me! I’ll hook you up!

Buy a batch on Bawker: You can buy 10 ISBNs for a couple hundred bucks, and if you want to be taken as seriously as any well-known writer, even if you’re just an Indie, you’ll need to use them all up.

Send your book to Swallow Publishing: my better half, Nawab Rafiq, designed 3 wonderful covers for me and decided he didn’t want to watch me struggle anymore. He offered to handle the technical end of our business, and here we are today. 

Swallow Publishing will cover all costs associated with publishing and marketing your book, taking a 20 percent cut. You get the rest, which means “the rest” is up to you!

Our message to the indie authors of the world

Don’t go at it alone, and if you do insist on self-publishing your book, at the very least, turn to a small house like ours for a la carte services, like editing, design, beta readers and posted reviews.

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