If you’re filthy rich, you can skip reading this post…
I often wonder if people really really really know what goes into being an indie author, what it takes to be self-published. I suspect that in many cases, aspiring writers don`t fully understand just how much more there is to do than just writing the book. In fact, writing the book is probably the easiest part.
Some of the additional tasks are obvious, such as editing and proofreading, but those tasks are just a couple of steps in a very big, very long process.
What people sometimes miss is that it is not of case of spending the time doing a given task, it’s a case of how much time you have to invest in LEARNING how to do a task before you can do that task proficiently. If you’ve got some cash, maybe you can just hire freelancers to do things for you. But if you don’t have a bucket of cash…
Ugh. I bought some software and thought I could do this. I was wrong. I spent about a day and a half trying to learn it. By that I mean just learning the basics. I’m not even talking about learning it to a high standard. I suppose I could have figured it out if I had tons of time, but why? Why not let a professional do it?
Can you design it yourself? Really? Is it worth spending the time trying to do so?
Okay, maybe you’ll just pay someone. What if you put out a call to a few designers and three of them respond by sending three samples each. That’s nine covers. How do you choose? And don’t just pick the one you like best. Consider what readers may think of it. The cover for my first book was chosen by my publisher. It was a good cover, but not for what was inside. Some of the responses from readers regarding the cover were quite negative, but negative in a way that none of the people involved in the design had anticipated.
As the release of my first book approached, the topic of making a book trailer came up. Once again, the how-to and technical side of things was a skill set I did not (and still do not) have. So there is that side of things – figuring out how to fade one image into another, how to add text or sound, etc. But beyond that, what about the actual content? I had no idea what to try to show in a two minute video. Should it be informative? Funny? Should I be in it?
Okay, you already know that you need to have a social presence. Yup, that’s a given. But again, where and how will take some time to figure out. Every new author marketing dot.com or every new author support site promises to be the best, to have the most pageviews, to have the most subscribers… I think I have now become a member of/created a profile for/registered in no less than 9,300,289 sites all promising that THIS is where I’ll connect with readers.
As to the where: Yikes, that’s hard. There are a million, no wait, a zillion blogs, chatrooms, discussion boards, aggregator sites, curator sites, share sites, retail sites, review sites and so on and on and on… Which ones are most effective for you? For your genre?
As to the how: You need to spend time learning the rules and conventions of each online place. By this, I do not mean general etiquette for Twitter or Facebook. I’m talking a little more specifically. I once innocently/stupidly posted on a discussion board about an upcoming promotion for one of my books. DOH! I should have read the guidelines (pages and pages, or I guess I should say screens and screens) more carefully. Turns out I had violated a rule and other members raked me over the coals for it.
Okay, so yes, you say you’re willing to spend a few bucks to advertise your book. Great! Maybe you’ll make a banner ad. Great! Do you know how to? What should it say? What will inspire people to click on the ad? What kind of image might you use (if not the book cover)? I once spent 8 hours (yes, really, 8 hours!) trying to get an ad image to work. In hindsight, I wish I had simply paid someone to design it for me, and spent those 8 hours doing something else.
You don’t need me to tell you that you have to have a website. And there are lots of ways you can do this yourself. You can do it very cheaply, if not for free. But if creating a website were as easy as tying your shoelaces, then colleges wouldn’t offer diplomas in web design. Workopolis and Monster wouldn’t have lots of job postings for web designers.
If you think about the points I’ve just discussed (and there are many others ro be considered as well), you’ll realize that many of the skill sets an author needs are quite far removed from telling a story. Yes, there is a certain amount of creativity in all of them. Yes, many people are multi-talented. But but but… It wouldn’t make much sense to expect the graphic artist who created your ad, or the web designer who developed your site to sit down next week and write a novel would it? Maybe when it comes to indie publishing, you shouldn’t try to be a Jack of all trades.
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