Thursday, January 28, 2010

Welcome to Indie Publishing on the Cheap!

Should I indie publish my novel?

I’d like to start this blog by saying that if I have one piece of advice to any man, woman, or child who is thinking about indie publishing fiction (the rules are a little different for non-fiction), my first piece of advice is: DON’T!!!

That may seem surprising to those who know that I indie published my debut novel. It is because I’ve done it that I can feel good in my attempt to scare you away. Why? Because indie publishing fiction—if you want to get it in the hands of readers and make something resembling a profit—is hard, hard, hard, hard work. Writing the book is the easy part. Getting that book to market and making sales - that’s where the real work begins.
As indie author, I’ll admit that I can do many of the things that traditionally published authors can do—but, for what may take one phone call from the traditionally published author or their publicist (I should be so lucky!), for me, may take a phone call, a letter, a personal visit, lots of begging, another phone call, more begging, pleading, and an occasional death threat.

Sadly, that is not an exaggeration.

No, I suggest that you try and try real hard to go the traditional route first! Find an agent to represent your work and let that agent find a home for your novel with a major publishing house that has the resources and personnel to get your book into the hands of as a many readers as possible as fast as possible. If you are running into walls finding an agent, then hire your own editor and get a manuscript evaluation, fix your novel, and then try querying again. If after all that fails and you still want to publish your novel independently, THEN follow the advice that will provide over the coming weeks.

Seriously…keep trying. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

My publishing story…

On October 6, 2009, I officially released my debut novel, The Bum Magnet. Indie published by yours truly. I’d never had any experience in publishing before…none whatsoever. Yet, with a lot of research—and by the grace of God—I was able to write and publish my novel—on my own—inside of one year, with a custom cover and an editorial review from a former editor at a Simon & Schuster, for just about $1200. Yep. That’s about right. You can keep a tally of the costs but I’m somewhere in that neighborhood.

Although I’ve worked as an analyst for the government for nearly 20 years—and I now work as an analytical editor for a military organization—I didn’t have any “creative” writing experience whatsoever. My writing is mostly confined to journals. Despite my lack of creative writing and publishing experience (about 1 year total to be exact), I’m proud to say that my book is getting great reviews (including a Reviewer’s Choice selection by the Midwest Book Review), pretty well edited, slowly getting word-of-mouth notoriety AND—most importantly—already on the shelves of major bookstores, like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

“Well, how did you do it?” you ask.

That’s what this blog is all about. I’m going to walk you step by step through every aspect of indie publishing that I took to reach my final destination. The topics will include:

• Editing
o Levels of Editing
o Determining What Level You Need
o How to get it for cheap!
• Book Design
o Cover design
o Interior design
o Software recommendations
• Print-on-Demand
o For less than $200
• Distribution
o Getting into major bookstores
• Marketing
o Marketing Plan
o Getting Reviews
o Websites and Widgets

And everything on the CHEAP! By the time, you finish reading this blog, you will be able to produce and sell your own book for about a fraction of what POD publisher like iUniverse and AuthorHouse charge. A mere fraction!

Why am I giving out all of this free advice? Well, I believe in paying my blessings forward. I'd like to help some of you folks avoid spending thousands and thousands of dollars to do what you can do for yourself...and probably do a WHOLE lot better!

And I’m going to tell you what even most published books on self-publishing won’t tell you.

Perhaps when one of you gets picked up by a major publisher, you will remember little old me, and throw a dog a bone—by mentioning my fab chick lit books (there are more to come). Really, it’d be great if you do that even if you don’t get picked up by a major publisher…but definitely do it if you do!

Or, if you’re really feeling grateful, you can pick up a copy of my Kindle version or the paperback on Amazon. All this free advice for $12 bucks? You can’t beat it. And if you don't like chick lit, buy and give it to someone who does, donate it to a library, host a giveaway on your own blog, or use it as a bookend.

If you have questions on any specific issues, then email them to me at karla (at)klbradywrites (dot) com and I’ll try to help if I can. If it’s something I think others can benefit from, then I’ll post it so others can read it as well (unless, of course, you ask me not to).

Keep it real—and keep it real cheap!


  1. So glad that you're doing this. I have a little experience in indie publishing, and I shall be looking over this blog at fairly frequent intervals. If I can help folks here with indie publishing problems, I shall be happy to do so.

  2. Great post, Karla! I've been trying to balance on the traditional/indie fence and have been completely confused as to how to proceed. You've cleared up a lot for me in this one post. I'll be sure to follow this blog! ~Cat~

  3. Great idea here. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!


    from the desk of a writer

  4. What a great first post! It tickled me pink, but I understood the heart of your message. It is hard work to do this all on your own.

    My two novels were published by two small, independent book publishing houses. One does solely ebook sales, the other both print and ebook. I am thankful that I didn't have to shell out any cash in the production of my book, but to get the word out and build my reputation as a REPUTABLE author is A LOT of work.

    So I guess we'll have to agree to meet here and share our experiences.

  5. Hi EA,

    In my humble opinion, I would NEVER go through a publishing house to e-publish my book, especially now that I know the process. I also would NEVER go through a publishing house that didn't put my book on bookstore shelves and provide me with marketing. If they aren't doing that for you, then they aren't doing anything for you that you couldn't do for yourself AND maintain all of your royalties instead of splitting them. In the meantime, you market like crazy and they benefit from your marketing without having to pay you a penny. In my humble opinion, if they can't do that for you, then it's not worth it. To e-publish your book is FREE...even to them. To publish your book (with the exception of the cover), can cost less than $100. And you keep all the royalties. Why share when you don't have to.

    If I sign with a publisher, those are three things I will always ask. Can you put my book on the shelves of major retailers across the country? and How much marketing will you do for me? (even sending out review copies is a big help).


    K.L. Brady

  6. Karla, I published non-fiction and I will also say, don't do it! Lol. People don't even want to read non-fiction except you are already a celebrity so there's a whole new world of obstacles right there. At a point, I almost wished I had written my book as fiction but with the same message!!! But God is good regardless and I am thankful I am making progress...
    I have hit a brick wall with kindle. Maybe I have not paid enough attention because I am so busy marketing but it just seemed compliacted getting my book on kindle I gave up. Can you help me with that? I do intend to do the ebook through Lightning Source though so will that cover Kindle as well?