Indie publishing

  • How IndieCat Editorial can help you

    How IndieCat Editorial can help you

    Does this sound familiar?

    You try so hard to write a kick-ass novel that will wow readers and get everyone talking.

    Then you go around in circles tweaking and rewriting. Because you need to get it just perfect!

    And for a while, your book genuinely seems to be getting better.

    Then you lose a subplot or a character falls out stage left.

    Now you’re demoralised and stressed out. Your manuscript has turned into a monster, complete with tentacles. (Where did all these loose bits come from?)

    You’ve struggled to find reliable beta readers.

    Maybe you’ve tried online writing groups only to feel intimidated or frustrated because some of the advice just seemed plain wrong or contradictory.

    Unfortunately, serious indie authors and those hoping to submit to agents will always struggle with polishing their work.

    Everyone does, including seasoned professionals.

    Indie writers don’t have a publisher to help

    When you have an agent and a publishing house, you have a team working to support you and your book. You can take confidence in trained experts making your book the best it can be.

    But when you’re publishing yourself or just starting out, you don’t have these things. Then, you’re often dependent on the conflicting advice of writing groups and beta readers.

    Worse, they’re not trained to spot underlying problems, let alone anticipate the way different fixes impact one another in a manuscript.

    Because when you change one thing it can have a knock-on effect on everything else.

    Other writers or beta readers can also base their advice on how they would have written the book if it was theirs.

    That’s not the kind of advice you want.

    Because it’s not their book, it’s yours.

    You need someone who will respect your author voice and intentions.

    How developmental editing helps you

    That’s where developmental editing comes in.

    Developmental editing, also known as structural editing or substantive editing, is the first round of editing.

    This is where a professional assesses the big picture issues in your manuscript. They look for plot holes, structural problems, slow pacing, weak characterisation, and more.

    Think about it – how often have you given up on a novel you were reading because the story didn’t seem to be going anywhere or the characters were two-dimensional?

    A developmental edit highlights issues like this and allows you to fix them. Developmental editing takes your work to a whole new level.

    If you want to try out a developmental edit or manuscript, I offer a free 2,000-word sample edit. You can contact me at karen@indiecateditorial.com or check out my services page.

    You can also opt for a mini version of the developmental edit in the form of a detailed dive into the first 10,000 words of your novel or memoir. I offer this opening chapters developmental edit for the flat fee of £150. If you want a different word count, you can contact me for a quote.

    In the meantime, you can check out this service below. It includes an analysis of your synopsis and if you return for another edit of your manuscript, including the whole manuscript, you are entitled to a discount on the second edit.

    Opening chapters developmental edit of your novel or memoir.

  • Why your book cover design matters

    Why your book design matters

    If you’re an indie author and you want to attract readers, your book cover design really matters. It’s one of your most important marketing tactics.

    Why?

    Have you ever gone into a bookshop and felt overwhelmed by all the books to choose from?

    What motivates you to pick up an unknown book?

    Snappy or intriguing title? Or were you attracted by the cover image? Did it call to you to investigate further and check out the back cover blurb?

    Cover design is the magnet that draws the eye and piques curiosity. It can draw attention even from the other side of a bookshop. Even from a distance, when you can’t yet read the author’s name or the book’s title.

    And that’s why your book cover design matters.

    Of course, book covers accomplish other things too. They indicate genre, age group, connect to existing trends, even hint at the story’s atmosphere (creepy, suspenseful, erotic).

    Cover art speaks to emotions – and this is important in marketing.

    There are genres where speaking to emotions is particularly important – romance being the primary example. But you might be in the mood for something suspenseful or creepy. Horror and thriller covers also speak to a potential reader’s emotions.

    The style of the cover might connect to a particular subgenre or resemble the cover art on a more famous book. This is a way for publishers to indicate fast that if you like those other books in this category, you’ll probably like this one too.

    With so many books to choose from, a design department has to come up with ways to make it easy for the right readers to find their book. The cover art offers visual clues. The book’s title might also offer clues.

    Your book needs to stand out from the crowd. In a saturated market – and this is particularly true on Amazon – you need people to see that your book exists. And that it looks professional, intriguing, exciting.

    If the cover is plain and offers no hints about the genre, someone browsing on Amazon is likely to ignore it.

    Book buyers are accustomed to helpful cover design – covers that act as filters for what they do and don’t like.

    The cover design should attract the right readers. It should never trick people into thinking the book is something it isn’t.

    For example, you wouldn’t put a historical couple embracing on the cover of a modern horror novel. If a reader buys the book on the basis of the cover alone, they are going to feel cheated.

    Also, if the cover art and design are subpar, it will be difficult to stand out from the crowd.

    Furthermore, if the design is poor, potential readers will likely draw conclusions about the overall quality of the book, including the story, characterisation, formatting, etc.

    A good cover shows the writer has taken a professional approach to their work. But it also allows the writer to better compete with traditionally published authors.

    If your book looks like a traditionally published book, it’s more likely to draw readers.

    As well as using high-quality cover art, you should ensure your covers look good as thumbnails because this is how they will appear on sites like Amazon.

    Equally, you need to make sure your fonts match your genre and cover design, and that the text is clear and readable both at full size and in thumbnail.

    Most people cannot produce great cover art or choose the right fonts for their own books.

    Even people with design skills can do a bad job because cover art and what works for the market are not their specialities.

    Also, cover art should be chosen on the basis of what appeals to readers rather than what a writer might want. This might seem annoying, but if you want to attract sales, you have to put yourself in the place of readers.

    It’s worth doing quite a lot of research on your genre, particularly in relation to the newest styles and what the traditional publishing industry is producing.

    Design departments in publishing houses have experts who know what they’re doing. If they’re following a particular trend, you can jump on board.

    Indie authors who want high-quality book covers have a number of options. You can hire designers for bespoke covers, or you can visit a site that is selling pre-made cover art. In the case of the latter, the fonts are already in place. You just need to change the title, author name, etc.

    Some pre-made cover art sells for hundreds of dollars, but there are decent covers for well under $100. If you only want an ebook cover, the price is lower. If you want a back cover for a print edition, you’ll have to pay more.

    Likewise, if you want to add in banner advertising, and ads for specific social media sites, that pushes the price up further.

    However, a streamlined set of marketing images to use on multiple platforms is a great professional look that will help you stand out from the crowd.

    Sites providing pre-made covers

    Please note – I have not tried any of these services, so I cannot recommend them. They are just examples of the kinds of sites out there.

    Pre-made Ebook Covers

    Book Cover Zone

    Probook Pre-made Covers

    The Book Cover Designer

    The Artful Cover

    Self Pub Book Covers

    Kingwood Creations

    Other IndieCat blogs you might like

    How to order the stories in a collection

    Wasting your money on a copyedit or proofread?

    Don’t make this mistake on your author website

    So indie authors aren’t real authors?

    When dialogue ruins your scenes

    Boost your writing with the Pomodoro Technique

  • So indie authors aren’t real authors?

    So indie authors aren’t real authors?

    Some months ago, I was following the chat thread in an online authors’ group where someone made it clear they did not respect indie writers.

    True, they seemed a little confused about what self-publishing was, often veering into arguments more applicable to vanity presses.

    They talked about the bragging rights that come from being a traditionally published writer. They spoke about the waste of money hiring editors and cover designers and implied such service providers were scamming writers.

    Funnily enough, this same writer had hired an editor herself so she could send her manuscript to a publisher or agent.

    Just to be clear, it’s not necessary to hire an editor if you’re submitting to an agent, etc.

    The indie authors on the thread were understandably upset at the ignorance and disrespect. They had worked hard on their books. Yet she seemed to take great pleasure in putting them down.

    Her criticisms and claims about self-publishers

    Here is a list of her claims.

    It’s not real publishing and there are no bragging rights because anyone with a few dollars can do it.

    It’s like being a child and making your own little newspaper and selling it to your mother for a penny.

    You are not sending your work to anyone to be critiqued, so why bother?

    It’s just a matter of printing out copies of your own work.

    Indie authors hiring editors are being scammed.

    Why would you hire an editor if you’re not submitting to publishers?

    Apparently, you are just publishing your own ‘SHIT’ and then boasting about it.

    It became clear very quickly that this would-be author did not understand how indie writing actually works. She seemed to be confusing indie publishing with vanity publishing in some of her arguments.

    When the indie authors explained to her that they functioned as publishers and subcontracted work to experts – editors and cover artists – she claimed they were being scammed. She also didn’t see the point, presumably thinking these writers would never be read.

    An example of an indie success: The Martian

    I posted an example of a successful indie author – Andy Weir. There are many others, but Weir was the one who came to mind first. His self-published book became a Hollywood blockbuster.

    If that’s not a success, what is?

    He also managed to sell the print rights to his book for a decent amount of money.

    Weir originally published The Martian as a serial on his own website and had a lot of fans who followed the instalments. The book was repackaged as one volume and sold 35,000 copies in the first three months.

    Funnily enough, the writer who sneered at indie publishing had nothing to say about Weir’s indie career.

    What can you say?

    That he published his own shit?

    That he was putting together his own little newspaper to sell to his mother?

    That he was little better than an eight-year-old child?

    Indie publishing has evolved since the early years

    Yes, some writers have uploaded unedited files and published them online. The freedom of the indie marketplace means that you have the choice to publish unedited if you want.

    Some people just want to get their book out and possibly don’t even mind if it doesn’t sell. Publishing a book might have been on their bucket list. They’ve done it and moved on.

    There are also others who perhaps have had little contact with writers’ groups and don’t understand the amount of work they still have to do before publishing. I think fear of being judged by an editor might also be a factor.

    However, some people are just plain adamant that their work should go out as it is.

    All of this aside, many indie authors take their work seriously enough to shell out money for various rounds of editing, decent cover art, and marketing. They are taking control of their own careers and not dependent on industry gatekeepers or the whims of acquisition trends.

    And the indie market has grown over the years. In 2018, the number of self-published books jumped by 40%. In fact, the actual figure is much higher since only ISBNs were counted, which leaves out authors using Amazon’s identifier system.

    Indie authors have courage too

    One of the most disparaging remarks made by this critic of indie authors was that it takes a lot of courage to send a manuscript off to a publisher.

    But doesn’t it also take courage to invest in your work, research the right editors and designers, believe in yourself, and go out there and chase success? Especially since there are plenty of people happy to diss the work of others in reviews.

    The point of this post is to say that indie authors are real authors. And the gatekeepers of the publishing industry take on the financial risk with traditional authors, which means they can be picky about what types of books they want to accept.

    Books that are badly written or that don’t quite make the grade aren’t the only ones rejected. Great books that are difficult to categorise, that deal with difficult topics, or which might be seen to appeal to very small demographics are also turned down.

    Traditional publishing is a commercial field. But writing is not just about commerce.

    And taking control of your writing career and becoming an author entrepreneur can be the most courageous choice of all.

    And that’s before we get into something that is often missed about the power of indie publishing. Some writers are content to produce the words alone, while others have a bigger vision which includes the cover art, audible narrator choices, and the freedom that comes from marketing the book their own way.

    One choice is not more valid or braver than the other.

    Different writers just have different priorities, aspirations, and motivations. And some are working in less commercial niches. There are still readers out there looking for those books, even if the traditional publishers are not fulfilling their needs.

    If you’re looking for feedback on your novel or memoir, you can check out my services page. I offer beta critiques, manuscript critiques, opening chapters developmental edits, and full developmental edits. Feel free to contact me for a sample edit and pricing.

     

  • Wasting your money on a copyedit or proofread?

    Wasting money on a copyedit or proofread?

    There’s a problem I’ve encountered with a number of my developmental editing clients.

    They paid for a copyedit or proofread of their novel or memoir and only then sent their manuscript to me.

    Why?

    I think there are a number of reasons:

    • Writers don’t always know the correct order of editing (which I deal with below)
    • They got a copyedit/proofread but it was later suggested they needed a critique too. Ouch! Money wasted
    • They published the book (without a critique) and then needed to pull it to improve it
    • The copyeditor/proofreader wasn’t honest about the type of editing that was needed
    • The copyeditor/proofreader was honest but the client ignored it for any number of reasons

    I’ve also noticed that some clients are sending me formatted books that are still early on in their development.

    This can sometimes make the editing a little more difficult.

    It’s best to send manuscripts with double-spaced text, but some people are sending single-spaced documents that already look like ebooks. Not so much space to leave margin comments.


    Are you wasting your money on a copyedit or proofread?

    Developmental editing requires rewriting parts of the book.

    You might have to restructure the book, change parts of the plot, delete scenes or chapters.

    If you have the book copyedited first, you’ve totally wasted your money because you’re going to have to have the book edited again, once the developmental editing is complete.

    Here is the editorial timeline:

    • Critique partners/writing groups/alpha readers
    • Developmental editor – either a critique or a full developmental edit
    • Line editor/copyeditor
    • Proofreading is the final stage to check everything is correct and spelling and formatting are consistent, etc
    • Beta readers can be used in the later stages, after developmental editing

    You don’t have to go through every layer of editing here. You could choose the following:

    • Writing group/critique partners
    • Manuscript critique
    • Proof-edit

    This would be cheaper though it wouldn’t be as detailed. Still, if you’re on a budget, it’s worth bearing in mind.

    There is absolutely no point in paying for copyediting and proofreading when you’re still working on the plot and bigger picture issues.

    Seriously folks, don’t do this.

    Some of my writers have completely wasted time and money on copyeditors and/or proofreaders. Indie publishing already has costs. Don’t make it more expensive than is necessary.

    You want the best book you can deliver to readers, but you also don’t want to get ripped off in the process.


    Want to try a free sample developmental edit?

    I’m currently offering a free sample developmental edit of 2000 words. This will include an editorial report and track commenting in the margins of your manuscript. If you’re interested, you can contact me at: karen@indiecateditorial.com

    The manuscript should be in Word or a compatible Word format.


    Other IndieCat posts you might find useful

    Social media blockers

    Don’t make this mistake on your author website

    Boost your writing with the Pomodoro Technique

    How to order the stories in a collection

    Why your book cover design matters