I am pleased to start week three of Indie Author April with Author Sarah Scheele. Sarah and I have been sharing our writing experiences with each for so long sometimes I feel we’ve walked a lot of the publishing journey together. She has always been so helpful to me and I am glad she was able to take part in this month.
She has also offered a great addition to this week’s giveaway.
First tell us a little about your book(s).
Well, I have two collections of novellas out right now. Most of the stories were published separately at various times, but are now anthologized together as I move past phase one of my career.
Facets of Fantasy is speculative, mostly sci-fi and a little futuristic. The Valley Stories is a transition to historical, a set of three retellings in an imaginary world very similar to 18th century Europe—Italy, Austria, and Spain. Naturally following from that, I’ve written a couple of historical novels that should be published soon. There’s a newsletter on my website, and subscribers will receive The Valley Stories Omnibus free for signing up.
What formats of Indie Publishing have you used? (ex: Self-publishing House, Kindle, Smashwords, Create Space)
I started out in CreateSpace, but switched to Kindle. CreateSpace is good for setting up a basic paperback book, but the ebook market offers much better sales. Outlets like Google Play (which will get your book to the huge Asian market that Kindle doesn’t reach) and Nook are also good options for a serious indie publisher. The only downside to ebooks is that the market is even more flooded than in the physical book world. Competition is intense—a good cover always helps!
Ebooks, ebooks, ebooks. They are cost-efficient, period. Easier to set up and cheaper to buy. Book people have been moaning for years about the “demise” of real solid books with crackly, real paper—but as a person who usually couldn’t afford expensive new books, I can promise you ebooks are expanding the book market. It’s easier for people on a tight budget to invest a dollar or two, whereas they might be more wary about putting down twenty-five dollars.
Is there a reason you chose the independent route?
Basically it was a matter of practicality. I needed to publish at that time for social reasons, so that people would understand I was working and developing my writing. But my work wasn’t focused enough on an identified market for me to approach agents. So I poked along for about 5 or 6 years, steadily learning and climbing the ranks. That’s how it is for a lot of the authors in indie.
Do you do your own editing, cover design, and promoting as well?
Promoting, yes—editing and cover design I gave to other people. I’d recommend finding some friends who can help you out inexpensively. You don’t have to pay $300 for a cover design! And DO get it edited. Not that the editing Nazis really care about those little mistakes. They would easily ignore them if those same things appeared in work from a big publisher. But since you are independent—do yourself a favor.
Any technical issues?
Kindle formatting was a struggle at first, I will say that! Especially for Facets of Fantasy, I had five stories, each with several separate chapter headings, so making the TOC was a challenge until I learned the tricks. Creating the paperback was more time-consuming overall, though, because of all the details of a physical copy. So ebooks are still easier, though the formatting can be quirky sometimes.
What did you not expect when you came into the Indie world?
How narrow minded most book readers are. I’m very open-minded and enjoy a variety of genres, so this wasn’t intuitive to me. But for most readers, demographic is everything. A book can be treated miserably in one sector, have its label switched, and suddenly do very well in another zone. Especially in some genres, such as young adult, the readers are snotty, pouty piranhas with a very definite, specialized taste. Agents and publicists can be a big help in navigating the bratty little book cliques. If you don’t have an agent, walk softly, carry a big stick, and be prepared for some bumps.
Are you considering traditional publishing any time in the future?
Certainly. I always viewed indie publishing as a place to get started. I view my past body of work as a platform I can eventually carry towards more mainstream publishing.
Any last words of advice for fellow Indie Authors?
Expect to struggle. Not only are there a horde of vanity hobbyists distracting attention from the real authors, but even the really sincere writers in indie have typically not found their focus yet. Eventually you’ll find your feet and learn where you belong or whether you belong at all. It’s a roller coaster. Expect a ride.
Finally, since this business is all about word of mouth, do you have any Indie Writers you enjoy?
Surprisingly, most of the indie authors I’ve enjoyed have been rare and charming gifts off the beaten path, such as The Frog Who Would Be Prince by Norm DaPloom. But among higher profile indies, I admire the savvy marketing of historical author Roseanna White, who started a company to publish her Biblical novel and now has a strong business that includes 13 other authors. And Serena Chase, who is gaining quite a little foothold in the YA market with her fantasy series The Eyes of E’veria, is another striking new author.
Thank you so much, Sarah, for joining me and sharing some great information! Sarah has also generously offered two copies of her book Facets of Fantasy in addition to the $5 Amazon gift card I am giving out every week. To enter to win please leave a comment with your email address. Additional points are granted for following Sarah on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.