- DRM – Digital Rights Management is something you can chose to enable when publishing digitally. It helps prevent the duplication of copyrighted material — in this case, your book. This can also backfire and prevent you from backing up your own finished work. I’ve never chosen to enable it when publishing my work. The reason? I want everyone to read my book, not just those who can afford it. There are many people in this world who can’t afford their next meal, rent, education, let alone a luxury like a new book. They still deserve to read. If that means they log onto PirateBay and download a book for free, then I’m all for it, and think they should be able to. Maybe they’ll be my next biggest fan.
Much of my work involve diverse characters, and LGBT, non-white youth make up a huge part of marginalized (read: impoverished) people. Maybe downloading a book that has someone who looks like them in it would make their day. I’d rather they feel better about themselves than make money.
- Review Copy Resale — So when our books first come out we often send out copies for review, or as prizes during events. It drums up interest and garners more readers. Apparently some authors have issues with their review copies being resold, even going as far as stamping the first page with “Review Copy: Not for Resale.”
I think this is bad business. Maybe they’ve never had to scrounge through their change jar to afford a book to read, but I have, and many readers do, too. Selling review copies to a used book store might not get the author a few bucks, but it allows someone who isn’t able to afford that shiny new paperback to buy their next book. Reviewers read hundred, maybe even thousands of books a year. It’s ludicrous to expect them to save every single book they ever read. I’d rather my book end up in a new reader’s hands than in the dump because I’d stamped it with scarlet letters.
- Be Smart — Many pirating sites have viruses and other horrid things accompanying their downloads. If you’re downloading a book, be smart. Use a trusted site. If you have the money then buy the book from a site that actually gives the author a royalty — Smashwords and D2D give the author the most. But if not, be smart. I don’t agree with pirate sites charging money for my work, but I don’t care if they offer free downloads.
Amphibian Authors in no way condones or promotes the sale of stolen material. This post is directed at authors whose work might be pirated.
Indie Doesn’t Mean "Alone"
Writers and readers both have the reputation of being solitary creatures. We may find big, noisy parties or other social events to be draining or stressful. Some of us find it difficult to be in the spotlight at signing events or public speaking engagements. I have an extensive background in theatre and teaching (which are more related than you might think), so those things come naturally to me, I’m happy to report. Even so, I had long embraced the true meaning of the word “independent,” from which “indie” is derived, since I began writing and publishing back in 2012. However, in December, I met with a local social media guru who encouraged me to start a Facebook group to help launch my self-publishing consulting business, Mountains Wanted Publishing. It may be some time before my business gets off the ground, but I did take her advice to start the group.
I can’t tell you what a difference the group has made to me both professionally and personally. I guess I should have realized there were dozens of other indie authors out there facing the same challenges I face, but I didn’t expect them to be so open and supportive of me and each other. I post a Question of the Day to stimulate conversation, but members feel comfortable jumping in to post their own inquiries as well. It’s not a group for blatant self-promotion, and everyone respects that. I’ve only had to remove a few people for violating that rule. I know drama tends to rear its ugly head in some groups, and let’s face it, some of us are in direct competition for readers in the same genres, but so far I have seen nothing but love in our group. Though still relatively new, it seems to be growing and flourishing. And I can honestly say that through my peers in the group, I learn something new about writing and publishing every single day.
Even though I’m a social person, and I’ve grown accustomed to working in a collaborative environment in my other careers, I had shied away from establishing a support network of indie peers. For some reason, I thought I had to do everything on my own. I am so glad I got over that and took the leap. If you’re looking for a group where you can pose questions, join in discussions, make friends, and engage with other indie writers about both your proud moments and perils, I welcome you to join us.
Krista Venero of Mountains Wanted Publishing also writes women’s fiction as K.L. Montgomery and erotic romance as Phoebe Alexander. Krista has written since she was a young girl, but credits her husband with convincing her to self-publish. She lives near the beach and has three sons, three cats, and three “day” jobs in addition to her writing career. Needless to say, Krista is often seen drinking coffee and lamenting about there not being enough hours in the day.
Find K.L. Montgomery on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram if you are looking for Women’s Fiction.
Find Phoebe Alexander on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram if you are looking for steamy erotic romance!
And Check out Mountains Wanted Publishing on their Facebook Page.
Exclusivity, Why You Shouldn’t
The first name that comes into most new author’s minds is Amazon. Amazon is a wonderful place for readers and authors alike, but they are also tricky. You, in theory, can gain traction by joining Kindle Unlimited but with that little white box of possible downloads, comes an exclusivity clause. You may not sell a digital copy of your book anywhere else but on Amazon.
On the plus side, you can always give it a try for three months. This is recommended for new authors but in my personal experience it hasn’t made a huge difference. How much it pays off seems to depend on genre, so do your homework to see if it’s worth it.
Here are the 5 main reasons you should look into other options:
- Changes in the game/rules: Amazon is a business and above all, they want to make money. They love to mess with algorithms and even who can or cannot review your book. When they make changes to royalties or when it pays you, you have no other option but to deal with it.
- You are running a business: You are. Being an author, whether traditional, hybrid or indie, is a business. You need to think with your business hat on. If you opened a flower store would you only sell to mothers? No, you would sell to everyone. Choosing to be exclusive to Amazon or any other retailer shuts out other readers. Not all devices can read a .mobi file (The file type used for Kindle) in fact, most eReaders take an .ePub file. As a business, you don’t want to alienate readers and you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.
- It’s not as difficult as it might seem: There are two truly amazing choices in distributors out there for eBooks, we will talk about hard copy distribution in another post. So, for eBooks there is Smashwords (SW) and Draft2Digital(D2D). I chose SW really only because D2D is a younger company and they didn’t have quite as much reach. They are quickly growing though and you don’t have to worry about formatting your book. D2D will do it for you which saves time and money. These two also pay higher royalties to authors. I have recently made a switch from buying on Amazon to buying on SW because I know the author sees more of that money.
- There’s a great big world out there: Though it’s called the world-wide-web, that doesn’t mean the same websites are common or even accessible everywhere. Though Amazon is big in the U. S., Kobo is much more popular in Canada. Do some research via other authors in your community who might live, or sell, in different countries. Be prepared to act as a middleman if someone shows an interest but can’t access your distributor — and don’t forget to ask them how you can make it easier for other readers in their region!
- There is no magic trick to sell books: You need time. Time to market your books, time for your book to circulate. Exclusivity makes this more difficult. Imagine you were planting a garden. If you plant your seeds and leave them alone. Some might grow, but others will get strangled by weeds and eaten by animals. Weeding, watering, marketing. They take time and effort to achieve the desired goals.
Marissa Frosch is the head of marketing at Amphibian Press and also writes under the pseudonym Cameron J Quinn. The first of her Starsboro Series is due out on January 16th. She can found onFacebook, Twitter, Goodreads, her blog and her website.