Friday, June 21, 2013

Indie Publishing: Are You Willing to Do What It Takes?

I’ve promised to do more posts on indie publishing, so here’s another! Let’s call this one a reality check.

These days I can’t go a day without someone e mailing me or stopping me at whatever event I’m at, wanting me to tell them everything I know about indie publishing. This is on the surface good news for me, because it means I’ve made enough of a success at it that people want to know what I know.

But it’s also starting to piss me off.

Because what most of these people are asking for is a magic formula. They want a silver bullet, an easy answer to a vastly complicated question.

The fact is, I studied indie publishing methods for over a YEAR before I put out my indie bestseller, Thriller Award-nominated Huntress Moon.

Last week I did an indie publishing seminar at the West Texas Writers Academy. I spoke for an hour and a half. I think I communicated some of the pros and cons, made some new authors aware of some different choices writers have these days, and pointed people to some good resources to start with.

But did I sum up everything I learned in my year plus of research?

Not even close. Not even a scratch.

You don’t get that kind of knowledge by listening to a speaker for an hour and a half, or reading a couple of blog posts on the subject. You have to get your hands dirty.

Have most of the people who ask me how to indie publish even read Huntress Moon? Even to the extent of downloading a free sample of it? (although if you can’t pay $3.99 for a book by an author whose methods you’re studying, do you really expect anyone to pay for YOUR books when the time comes? Think about it. )

Have they even looked at the book’s Amazon page to see how I put together the book description, the reviews, the categories I’ve chosen to place the book in? Have they read the Amazon reviews to see how readers respond to the book? Have they looked at the pricing? Or the rank the book is in different genres and subgenres, and overall in the Amazon store?  

Have they gone further and looked at the same information for the sequel, Blood Moon?

Those are all things that I did myself in that year of self-teaching, that I trained myself to do by studying authors and books whose success I wanted to emulate. I did that kind of research extensively. That was just to start with. I then followed those authors and read what they had read, used the resources they had used. I never asked an author for advice unless I’d done all of that with their books first.

Indie publishing is a business, and you have to learn the business. There’s no magic formula. You have to have a basis of knowledge to work from so you can make informed decisions as they come up. It’s a huge investment of time and energy. But so is anything worth doing.

So ask yourself today - Am I willing to do what it takes? Or am I just looking for a silver bullet?

Be honest, because that's the first step. And if you are willing, then commit. Start the real research now.

- Alex

For further research, here is more on my indie publishing decision:

Here are some interesting recent blog posts by others in the field:

- An ITW Thriller Award Nominee for Best Original E Book Novel
- A Suspense Magazine Pick for Best Thriller of 2012

"This interstate manhunt has plenty of thrills... Sokoloff's choice to present both Roarke's and the killer's perspectives helps keep the drama taut and the pages flying."   -- Kirkus Reviews

$3.99 on Amazon

Amazon US 
Amazon UK   
Amazon DE

FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke is closing in on a bust of a major criminal organization in San Francisco when he witnesses an undercover member of his team killed right in front of him on a busy street, an accident Roarke can't believe is coincidental. His suspicions put him on the trail of a mysterious young woman who appears to have been present at each scene of a years-long string of "accidents" and murders, and who may well be that most rare of killers: a female serial.

Roarke's hunt for her takes him across three states...while in a small coastal town, a young father and his five-year old son, both wounded from a recent divorce, encounter a lost and compelling young woman on the beach and strike up an unlikely friendship without realizing how deadly she may be.

As Roarke uncovers the shocking truth of her background, he realizes she is on a mission of her own, and must race to capture her before more blood is shed.

(I know, I'm sorry, exclusive to Amazon for the first three months.  It's the financial reality of it.  But you  know me - if it's a Nook or Kobo version you need, just e mail me at alex at alexandrasokoloff DOT com and I will get either or both books to you!).

For a limited time, Book II in the Huntress/FBI series, Blood Moon, is just 99 cents.

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon DE

Twenty-five years have passed since a savage killer terrorized California, massacring three ordinary families before disappearing without a trace.

The haunted child who was the only surviving victim of his rampage is now wanted by the FBI  for brutal crimes of her own, and Special Agent Matthew Roarke is on an interstate manhunt for her, despite his conflicted sympathies for her history and motives.

But when his search for her unearths evidence of new family slayings, the dangerous woman Roarke seeks - and wants - may be his only hope of preventing another bloodbath.


Melanie Macek said...

Exactly Alex. There is no magic formula, what worked for you may not work for someone else. Also, you can tell which ones are serious and who just wants you to regurgitate the info for them so they don't have to do the work. I researched for over a year, looked at others books and asked questions. Not until I actually published my first book did other indie authors take me seriously and start giving me the nitty gritty.

Thanks for putting up with our questions and putting some of the information out there. But, at least in my opinion, if you're serious about being an indie published writer, time in the trenches is the best way to go. Research, research, write, research some more. Show others your serious and they will start to share.

Thanks Alex.

Melanie Macek

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Melanie, you're right - you really can tell who's serious, and of course people are more willing to share with people who are serious. And no one who is just asking for regurgitation is ever going to GET it the way they need to get it to DO it. Congratulations on the book!

Unknown said...

Bravo! Well said Alexandra. I couldn't agree more.

And it's not for everyone. I think the one question each author has to ask, "is it for me?"


Gayle Carline said...

Thank you. I've got six books out there, all self-published. I'm sure I'm not selling as much as you, but I'm in there shouting as loud as I can.

Here's the thing: I've been doing all this work reading about self-pubbing, listening to authors who've done it, and basically immersing myself in how to do it right, AND IT'S NOT HARD TO DO. The research is there, waiting for me to Google and discover. So why are writers still coming up to me asking what the difference between Createspace and KDP is? I'm happy to give them an answer, but I'm agog that they see me as some Magical Guru who can explain it all to them.

Maybe it's like one-stop shopping...

toni said...

Well said, and so true.

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Hi, Efthalia!! You are so right. "is it for me?" is THE question!

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Gayle, I know, it's surreal. Al the information IS there and it's just like researching anything else that a writer has to research. You get a broad range of information and weed out the chaff by seeing what advice comes up over and over and over again. I start to wonder how good a writer can be who DOESN'T do that kind of research...

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Thanks, Tori!

Lynn C. Willis said...

You're dead on, Alex. IMHO, if you don't have the drive to research on your own and are just looking for an expert to give you a step-by-step bullet point list, then you should probably stick with traditional publishing. Isn't the whole idea of indie publishing DIY?

Alexandra Sokoloff said...

Lynn, absolutely. But what people don't understand is - you have to do JUST as much research and promotional work as a traditionally published author. My bestselling traditionally published friends work harder than anyone I know at promotion. If you want to be an author and you think your publisher is going to it for you, you are in for a huge shock. The difference with indie publishing is that you don't have your publisher BLOCKING your efforts, if you're trying to do more than they think you're worth.

Laurie Evans said...

Yup. I'm not published yet, but people know I've done a crap-ton of research on self-publishing, and they expect a 5 minute explanation.

Same thing happens to me with blogging. I spent over 4 years researching how to blog, how to get followers, how to write articles that get shared, etc. I've finally built up a decent blog following, and people email me asking "How do I blog?" and/or "How do I get a lot of blog followers?" Again, not something that can be answered in five minutes.