FROM NOTES TO NOVELS
About five years ago I had 15,000 words written for a novel. I knew where I wanted to take the characters, the plot I wanted to create and follow, and even had a strong idea for the cover. What I didn’t have was a way to publish it. I began researching how to query agents and publishers and read the nightmares of querying for years and a constant flow of rejection letters. I knew I didn’t have the Great American Novel on my hands, but I felt it was something a few people might enjoy reading.
My research led me to the world of independent publishing. It was an already big and still growing cross section of the book world. I knew of vanity press and at first dismissed indie publishing as vanity press as many people did, and still do. Then I kept reading about it. Indie publishing has pushed vanity press into the past and allowed writers to release books without huge amounts of upfront money required to print then still have no way to distribute.
I found a book by Guy Kawasaki, the one-time Apple product evangelist turned social media king. He had a book out called APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. Though Kawasaki already had several books out, he decided to independently publish his book about… independent publishing. I read cover to cover (or screen to screen as it was a Kindle book on my iPad), making notes, going back and rereading sections until I was done and sat back and saw my way forward.
Reinvigorated I tore into my novel and finished it, graced also with the freedom of recently choosing to begin working for myself as a designer and photographer. I finished The South Coast and sent it off to my editor and waited. A revision or three later I had my finished manuscript. I designed the cover, setting up a photo shoot with a friend of a friend for my cover model, then began on the interior for Kindle and print.
As I was releasing The South Coast in September of 2013, a friend who had finished his novel about jazz in New Orleans asked for help getting his work self published. This became the beginning of what is now BookConnectors. I found what I truly love to do, writing and helping writers.
I have my third novel out and it is selling incredibly well (boosted by a new unrelated television show by the same name) and I’m gaining new clients regularly. Independent publishing is coming into its own. Big names are coming from every corner. Hugh Howey is the undisputed king of the indies. Andy Weir wrote a little sci-fi novel called The Martian and self published it. Even E.L. James self published 50 Shades of Grey.
There is nothing about independent publishing that most writers can’t do on their own, as Guy Kawasaki’s book instructs. But there is also that line that writers need to decide if they want to cross. Is it better to keep writing and try to design, layout and claw your way through the publishing process, or just keep writing and hire someone who has now done it over a hundred times and just know it will get done right. Writing is an investment of time and love, and also of money. Nobody should publish any written work without having an experienced editor and this costs money. Unless you are lucky enough to be a designer as I am, you need to hire a professional designer for the cover and likely for the interior layout, more money.
In the end you have a book on Amazon.com. Dreams of becoming as rich and famous as people named Patterson, King, Grisham, and Rowling run around your head. But then you find yourself jumping up at your desk and screaming with excitement when you sell your first book, then staring the at the screen in amazement the first time you sell 10 copies in one day. Most published authors, indie or traditional, never sell more than 200 books in their lifetime. There’s hard work to be done after the book is released to let people know about it (likely meaning more money for marketing), so it all comes down to the writer and how much they want to invest in their book, again with time and money.