Indie Author Tools – Part 3 – Wearing Many Hats!
(check out the vlog version of this blog over on my YouTube channel – Indie Author Tools – Wearing Many Hats)
If you want to go indie, being an authorpreneur is pretty much part of the deal. Unless you have money to pay people to do all the extra things that need to be done, you’ll be doing those things yourself. Even if you do have the money, you still have to know what needs to be done. Knowing what needs to be done is key. Most of us don’t know when we start. We learn through lots of trial and error. I’m still learning!
So how many hats does an authorpreneur wear? Lots.
Writer – Of course, we’re all writers. That’s the reason we’re doing this in the first place. But writing is only one ingredient.
Marketer – We have to know how to market our books. Writing the book is essential, but who cares if nobody knows your book exists. If you want to be successful, marketing is as important as writing. Yep. I said it. You have to get the word out, be it through BookBub, Bargain Booksy, ads on review sites, blog tours, book signings, book readings, Facebook ads, Goodreads ads, content marketing (this blog is content marketing, by the way) via a blog, vlog, or social media posts. There are many avenues, which can make it all seem a bit overwhelming. Take heart, though. You don’t have to do everything, you just have to do something. Your choice. Typically, you’ll have to test out a few things before you find what works for you. And what works for one author won’t necessarily work for another author.
Book Cover Designer – This may seem misleading. Let me explain. Most writers don’t create their book covers; they hire someone to do it. The design part comes because you need to know what your book cover should look like. This could fall under marketing because you’re not just trying to get a book cover that’s pretty; you need to have a book cover that sells your book and fits your brand. This means you have to research your genre. Get on Amazon and see what books sell in your genre. Make a list of the best selling books and see what they have in common.
For more on cover design, check out this Chris Fox video.
Book Formatting – This is another job you can hire out, but many indies do it themselves. Book formatting is what you have to do to prep your book for publication. Every detail of how your book looks when it’s published is decided at this stage. You have to make sure you have your front matter and back matter in place, your chapter headings are there, and your chapters are separated. Your cover art has to be the right size for whatever retailer you’re uploading to (yes, retailers require a different size). If you’re doing print, your book’s formatting will be completely different from the eBook design. Also, your cover art will need to be a cover flat. Do you have a cover flat? Do you know what one is? FYI – Many cover artists charge extra to do cover flats.
Here’s the cover flat for my book, Zoey Matthews, the Undead Ghost, and the Demon. As you can see, a cover flat is the front cover, back cover, and spine of a print book if it was laid, face down on a flat surface. All print books have to have a cover flat.
There are sites (like Draft to Digital and Smashwords) where you can upload your book, and they’ll upload it to the other retailers. This is great, but the downside is that you won’t see individual sales on the retail sites the way you would if you uploaded directly to the retailer. You also cannot participate in special promotions that retail sites site up for authors who publish directly with them. This may not be a big deal to you, but it’s something to consider.
I like seeing my sales real time. This allows me to make marketing pivots if I need to, so I upload books to many retailers myself.
Here’s how my publication currently looks:
- Direct Upload – Amazon, Kobo (Kobo publishes to Walmart online)
- Draft to Digital – Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Overdrive, Baker & Taylor
Accountant – Even if you hire someone once a year to do your taxes, you need to know what’s going on with your money. You need to keep records of your business expenses. You need to know what’s deductible. Believe me, come tax time, it matters. You need to keep good records!
Networker – This can be difficult for writers because many of us are introverts, but this is important. Networking isn’t something that only happens at book events, it also happens when you’re out and about in your everyday world. At the grocery store, having drinks with friends, at an art lecture. You never know who you may meet (who can help you or who you can help). In my small town, I’ve met cover artists, promoters (who helped promote my books), singers, business people. All from just talking with people. And my goal isn’t usually to sell books, it’s usually just because I like to meet new people.
Networking happens online, too. I’ve made many friends in the book business while on Facebook and Instagram.
Business Manager – You have to manage all facets of your business. You have to know when to put on your networking hat, when to put on your marketing hat, when you need to focus on writing.
If you’re thinking about going indie, these are important aspects of indie authoring to consider. Your success as an authorpreneur depends on it.
Until next time…Happy Reading & Writing!