The Indie Publishing Checklist

Let’s assume you’ve already written your book and now you’re keen to get on with the business of independent publishing. No matter what kind of book you’ve written, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, for adults or children, academic or not, there are certain processes and things that you’ll need to do to get it ready for publication.

With this in mind, let’s have a look at the indie pre-publishing checklist – let me know if you think there’s any I’ve forgotten!

  • Editing and proofreading. Specifically, make sure that you (or someone else) do it, and do it properly.
  • Your audience. You can never precisely predict who will read your book, but it helps to have some sort of engagement strategy. Think about the kind of people your book is likely to appeal to, and keep this in mind when going through the rest of the process.
  • Pre-publication marketing. Book written but it’s not yet quite ready for publication? This is the perfect time to start building awareness and interest in your book – as long as you know it’s going to be published sometime soon and you have an idea of when that might be, you can start enticing people to find out more.
  • The design. Think about what the actual book is going to look like. Consider things like the cover, the blurb and any author info and/or acknowledgements you want to include.
  • E-books. If you’re planning to publish independently, you’re more than likely going to need e-books. These need to be formatted properly for Amazon and other styles of document (.MOBI and .ePub are the big ones).
  • Physical books. If you want to get a print run, make sure you get a test copy before committing to an order so you know what the finished product will look like and you can make changes if necessary. Consider small runs so that you don’t end up with lots of leftovers or, if possible, a print-on-demand service.
  • The practicalities. You’ll need an ISBN and possibly a barcode, depending on how your book will be sold.
  • Distributing and pricing. It always makes sense to price your book competitively and get it into as many good distribution channels as possible. Doing your research well in advance of publication will make sure you’ve got all the bases covered.

Digital Sales Boost Amazon’s Profits

Amazon has posted its quarterly results and it turns out that the company is doing better than it was expected to – and it’s thanks in no small part to digital content. Its profits were given as $130 million, which works out to be about £80 million.

In the UK, the Kindle was the best-selling Amazon product for the first quarter of the year, which is great news for all of us independent publishers with e-books out! Also, six of the top ten bestsellers for Amazon were e-books for the Kindle, which shows just how popular they have become.

This means that revenues for Amazon are up 34% for the first quarter of the year, and while the Kindle is not responsible for the whole rise in profits, it and the rise of e-books have certainly helped. The Kindle Fire, which isn’t available in the UK yet, has also been making waves in the US and is a major player in the US Android tablet market.

Amazon is a hugely important company for independent publishers, since the Kindle plays host to so many of our books and we use its publishing system to get our work out there – so it’s great to see so much growth coming from the Kindle and e-books.

The company’s shares were up 14% on the morning of Friday 27th April as a result of the news, but what do you make of Amazon’s latest results?

Kobo is moving into Self-Publishing

Here is an interesting bit of news for anyone who is involved with independent publishing. Kobo, which offers e-reading applications as well as its own e-readers, looks as though it is set to make the move into self-publishing this year.

Currently, it is thought that somewhere near 10% of the books that are sold through Kobo are written by independent authors, and at last week’s London Book Fair, the company spoke to The Bookseller about its plans to launch its self-publishing platform. This is an interesting development as it shows that even though Amazon is dominant both within the e-book market and in independent publishing, there is still room for competition – and for independent authors looking to get their books out on as many platforms as possible, this arguably helps to create more opportunities.

Kobo’s position has also been strengthened recently thanks to its purchase by Japanese company Rakuten. In the UK, Kobo only launched last year. Its main retail partner is WH Smith and it suggests that since it has entered the UK market, it now has a double-digit market share.

Another of Kobo’s aims is to make reading more social, with apps that allow readers to make comments on books as they are reading, which can then be shared with others to generate conversation and interest in books – something that independent publishers could well find useful. They’re also planning to move into a range of new countries soon, suggesting that they’re fairly confident of success.

In France, Kobo is actually considerably more popular than Amazon in terms of sales of both e-books and devices. Independent publishers should definitely take note. This could be one to watch, particularly as the company starts to do more work on its self-publishing platform. It will be interesting to watch its progress.

Why self-doubt is good for writers

Even Gods experience self-doubt

You know those days when you can’t write? You know the ones. You sit down at your computer/notepad/elaborate scroll of parchment and just completely fail to be any good. Every single word on the page could, at best, be described as a mess. Collectively, your ensemble of sentences is reminiscent of someone spilling a large container of those brightly-coloured fridge magnets across the screen/desk.

Those days are awful, aren’t they? Except I would also argue that they’re good for us too. Feeling bad about our work reminds us just how much we care about it. Okay, so reading back your day’s work and realising most of it is probably going to get deleted before long can be immensely frustrating, but it also means you know how to be self-critical. It means you know what’s good, and you can tell when you’re writing below standard.

If you find yourself casting your eye back over a page and thinking “that’s terrible, that word choice is wrong, that sounds just plain weird”, you’re probably well on your way to knowing just how to edit your work to make it immeasurably better. Maybe it will take a few more goes to get it exactly how you want it, but it’s often that first bit that’s the hardest.

I reckon that self-doubt is a very good thing for writers to have, because it means we’re constantly checking ourselves, revising our work and always trying to be better than we currently are. If we all just stopped after writing the first draft of a book, undoubtedly we would not be fulfilling our potential. Noticing what’s wrong and learning how to fix it is one of the hardest lessons for a writer to learn, but it’s also one of the most important.

This is arguably even more important for independent publishers than most, particularly if you are undertaking most or even all of the editing process yourself. Learning how to take a step back and view your book through the eyes of a critical reader is definitely a challenge, but once you’ve mastered it, your writing will hopefully improve enormously.

Besides, as I mentioned above, doubting your work shows that you care about it. It shows that you want it to be good, to be better, to be the best. It shows that you have a vision in mind and even though getting there can be something of a slog, if you’re still willing to sit there day after day and write even though you’re fairly certain a good percentage of what you’re writing is terrible, it shows just how much you want it.

Of course, simply wanting it won’t make you a better writer. There’s a lot of work to be done there along the way, but that passion and drive is a good start. And it’s also good for morale, when you feel that self-doubt start to creep in and you wonder whether it might just be easier to abandon your work before you’ve really even started. Well. It might be easier, but it won’t be as rewarding. Just remind yourself that your self-doubt is there for a reason, and the day you scan down your newly-edited page and realise it’s actually pretty good is the day it all becomes worth it.

New Kindle Ships a Week Early

For many (if not most) of us independent publishers, the Kindle is a key source of our revenue. This is why it’s always so exciting when there is a new Kindle available to buy, as it helps to further raise the profile and capabilities of e-readers, and (we hope!) will encourage more readers to buy one.

So it’s good news today as Amazon has announced that it is shipping out its new Kindle device to UK customers a week early. This is the Kindle Touch 3G, which has already been available for a while in America but it’s just making its debut over here in Britain as well as many other countries.

Amazon says that orders for this new Kindle have exceeded its expectations, so it looks like it is already pretty popular. It’s worth mentioning that the early shipping seems to only apply to the 3G version of the updated device, so if you’ve ordered the basic Wi-Fi model it should hopefully be with you in around a week.

As you’d expect, the Kindle Touch boasts the same great features that have made the devices so popular with readers already: the e-ink that lets you read even in bright light is still there, for instance. However, as the name suggests, the new device also incorporates innovative touch technology so you can turn pages and search for books more easily than ever before.

There has been a slight bit of controversy over the pricing of the Kindle Touch in the UK as it’s somewhat more expensive than it is in the US. One of the reasons for this, though, is that on the US version of the device, sponsor advertising pops up when you turn it off, which isn’t the case on the UK version.

Now we just need to get the Kindle Fire available to buy over here! It comes with full colour and loads more great features, so independent publishers should keep their fingers crossed that it makes the jump across the pond soon.