My husband sent me an email link one-day with a link to Createspace.com (which is now owned by Amazon.com). I could create my own book and have it available from Amazon.com. This felt too good to be true. But as I researched the process an idea took shape. It might really be possible to indie publish, without needing thousands of dollars up front and I could still sell my book available on Amazon.com. No, I wouldn’t be able to get big bookstores to stock my book, but I could get my e-reader versions available on their websites (Barnes & Noble’s Nook, for example). It was already well into the fall so I had to move fast if I wanted my book out in time to use for the 2012 advent season. Fortunately I have a gifted husband who helped me with formatting for both the e-reader and paperback versions, though there are online tutorials that can help you through the process. He is also a gifted graphic artist (though he’ll deny it if you ask) and was able to design the covers to both of our books. We managed to make the deadline, but just barely. My e-book version became available before Thanksgiving and the paperback just a few days before advent started.
I didn’t have a huge book launch and my marketing was mostly limited to social networking. At first I was discouraged. I wasn’t going to be a best seller this year. But one of the wonderful features of being an indie author is that you control when and how your book is available. This wasn’t the end. I could begin making plans for 2013. I made lists of local independent and religious bookstores that might stock my book next year and perhaps even let me hold a local author book signing or reading event. I started planning how many copies I should order to sell through my church or other local churches that might be interested.
In the mean time I also grew to love and appreciate e-readers. (I share my husband’s Kindle) While it will never replace a book for me, I like having so many books with me when I’m traveling or waiting somewhere. I never know what I’ll be in the mood for so it’s nice to have a selection. It’s also easier for me to use when nursing my son (or letting him sleep on me) because I only need one hand to hold it and one finger to turn the pages. It will never replace my well-worn copies of His Majesty’s Dragon or The Courtship of the Vicar’s Daughter; or produce the same joy as buying my mom a new copy of The Shell Seekers after her second (or was it third copy) literally feel apart in my hands when I borrowing it for the second time. I will never stop loving books, but I can see the benefits of e-readers and I do enjoy ours on occasion. I want to see more people reading more places and if e-readers help to do than I am all for it.
So I can finally call myself a published author. I find myself dreaming about how I will go about marketing my novel, though it isn’t quite halfway finished. I see my husband struggling to find time to market his own book while still working a full-time job and being a involved husband and father. No one ever said this process would be easy. We both struggle daily with balancing our commitment to marketing our books as well as working on the next ones and the rest of our lives. But it is amazing to realize that the very changes in technology that I sometime resent are what have made this dream possible for us.
If you had told me five years ago that I was going to be an indie author I would have said you were crazy. In fact, I don’t think I even knew the term indie author. I had heard of self-published authors (an industry previously referred to rather unattractively as vanity press), and I knew it was expensive. I was a stay at home mom from a single income family. We certainly didn’t have several thousand dollars to publish a book. So early on in my life I put the idea of becoming a self-published author out of my head. I decided that the merits of my work would speak for themselves and somewhere out there was a publisher who would be willing to give me a chance. I had finished a family advent devotional as gift to my mother and it took me two years to even try querying it with publishers. No luck. I continued to try on and off for several years, still no interest. One publisher was kind enough to refer me to their self-publishing division, but I knew I didn’t have the money it would require to get going so I didn’t follow it up. Then something happened. My husband wrote his first novel. At the same time I had been slaving away at my own novel between working, pregnancy, delivering, breastfeeding and otherwise caring for our new daughter full time. I hadn’t made much progress.
Suddenly this man that I loved and admired who, while very talented, hadn’t written much since high school was 50,000 words towards finishing his first novel. After a period of deep depression, he wanted to do something new, take a risk, so he decided to attempt National Novel Writing Month. He set daily writing goals, designed a tracking spreadsheet, created an outline and on November 1, 2010 off he went and at the end of the month he had an amazing 50,000 manuscript that was only half finished. This full edited and revised manuscript was just published in e-book format just a few months ago, nearly two years later. During the whole process I tried to be encouraging, but provide realistic assessment. He might have to spend a long time querying publishers and putting together proposals. He might need an agent. But I was sure he could do it if he worked hard enough at it. But when the time came to start looking at publishers, he shocked me. He wasn’t even going to attempt traditional publishing. He had decided to indie publish his book for e-reader.
I didn’t understand. Why not at least attempt getting the interest of a regular publisher? He realized that his odds weren’t good and he had done his research well. As a new author who wasn’t already a celebrity he wasn’t likely to get a ton of marketing help from a major publisher, even if they agreed to publish his book. They would set the price and control most of the details like cover and format. The royalty percentages offered would likely be abysmal. Then he told me about Amazon.com and Smashwords. I thought it was a long shot. But indie publishing was a new trend and e-books were a prospering new niche of the literary industry. He wanted to be part of it.
As a life long bibliophile, I still deeply resented e-readers, especially Kindles, which I initially felt were snobby with their proprietary format and lack of lending abilities. I liked the feel of the book in my hand and the idea that this copy was mine. Part of me feared that e-readers were just another gadget that would ultimately lead to people doing less reading just spending more in front of yet another screen. The idea of paying for access to a document just didn’t feel the same. My husband tried to encourage me that my book might also do well if I indie published. But I said that while I was open to using an e-reader format eventually, I wouldn’t publish until I could get a paperback copy to hold in my hand.
To be continued tomorrow in Part II
If you didn’t get to celebrate Advent the way you would have liked this year, or you are looking for a good deal on a new devotional for next year, now is your chance. Until January 1, As We Wait: A Family Advent Devotional will be available for just $.99 on Kindle and $4.99 in paperback from Createspace.
Right now my life is consumed with holiday preparations but I wanted to share an exciting new development. I got my first review on Amazon.com! Hopefully there will be more to come. If any of my readers are out there enjoying my book right now, I encourage you to submit a review. Let other people know how my book is impacting your life so they can give it a chance to impact their’s.
As We Wait: A Family Advent Devotional is now available from CreateSpace in paperback! Advent starts this weekend so order your copy right away.
As We Wait: A Family Advent Devotional is now also available for Nook. Check it out at Barnes & Noble online.