Breathe New Life into Your Dead Manuscript Through E-Publishing

The boney hands of a skeleton type on a computer keyboardSo your manuscript has made the rounds at traditional publishing houses and has been rejected. You’re ready to give up, call it quits with this one, bury it in your hard drive never to see the light of day. It’s dead. What other choice do you have?

You can breathe new life into your dead manuscript through e-publishing. Actually, writers today have more choices in publishing than in the past. Though in days gone by, self publishing has been considered a four letter word, today’s Indie authors, as they are now called, are earning respect as a group of talented writers who’ve studied the craft, polished their manuscripts, and either can’t find a home for their work or have chosen to self publish first.

While Indie publishing is an option for authors who aren’t going the traditional publishing route, it is not the only option. Instead of Indie publishing, many authors are choosing to sign with smaller epublishers which can help an author establish themselves in the market place and make a name for themselves. That is the route I chose with Digging Up Death published by StoneHouse Ink. But before you decide either way, here are some things you should know and questions you should ask yourself before you make your decision.

Anyone can Indie Publish, Not Everyone Should

It’s true. There are authors who haven’t studied the craft enough and become impatient to get their books on Amazon. And they do. Before long, the bad reviews come pouring in. Poorly written, no plot, stupid main character, you get the idea. And they fizzle out with not enough books sales for their efforts damaging their reputation as an author in the process. So before you throw you novel up on Amazon, here’s a check list to see if you’re a candidate for Indie Publishing.

  • Study the Craft and Write the Best Book you Can (Okay, that’s a given)
  • Get your Novel Professionally Edited and Hire Someone to do the Cover Art
    This doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does require cash. Make sure your editor covers content and line edits and that your cover artist is not your uncle Jimmy who took graphic art in community college and can’t hold a job. You get the idea!
  • Build your Platform and Market your Book
    No one is going to sell your book for you, so be prepared to market your book 24/7. Yes, it is possible via social media and you might need to for the first three books of your career to build a following of loyal readers.
  • Be Patient
    All those authors who were impatient to go through traditional publishing channels before they Indie published are in for a rude awakening. Indie publishing is a slow way to build a business. It takes constant work. A lot of work. But it does work.

Discouraged yet? Don’t be! There is good news for Indie authors and many support groups who can help you navigate the process and offer encouragement. Let’s take a look at why you might choose to Indie publish over an epublisher.

Indie Authors Have Full Control

Having full control of your novel can be a good and bad thing. Here’s why:

  • No Editorial or Marketing Team

This means you are responsible for everything. The manuscript, the edits, the formatting, the cover art, loading it on Amazon, B & N, Smashwords, marketing, and doing the accounting. No one tells you what to do, but no one helps, either. But remember things might not always be easier with an e-publisher. No two e-publishers are alike. Some may offer content edits, others might only do basic proof, so do your homework and ask lots of questions before you sign a contract. Moreover, I’ve been told, while formatting for Amazon might require a high school education, for Smashwords you need a PhD, so hiring the formatting out might be your best option.

  • More Money In Your Pocket

Going the DIY route, also means more money in your pocket, but it doesn’t mean selling more books. Sometimes partnering with an e-publisher can give you more exposure and help you sell more books than you can on your own. You also get to set your own price for your book, which affects your profits. But you need to spend more of that money on promotion, edits, book covers, etc. Is it worth it? That’s for each individual author to decide.

  • Access to Sales and Profit Information

The e-publisher I work with sets the price for my book, issues a sales statement twice a year, as does most traditional publishers, and does my sales accounting, which I’m grateful for. This means I have no idea how many books I’m selling or how much money I’m making, but I’m freed up not to worry about the business end of thing so I can write more books. (At least in theory!) With Indie publishing, you set the price, see the sales, and do the accounting.

So what do I like about my e-publisher and why would I choose that route over Indie publishing?

  • I like having a team that is invested in me and my book

They have a stake in whether my book succeeds or not and have helped me through the entire process. All I really had to worry about was edits, backcover copy, and approving cover art. They take care of the rest and are always available for a quick email or more in depth conference call.

  • I’m working with an established e-publisher who knows the business

There are a lot of things that goes on behind the scenes that I know nothing about, and that’s comforting because it frees me up to concentrate on writing that next book. I don’t have to worry about all the details, and I have more credibility as an author with a publisher backing me and my work.

  • I didn’t have the money or time

Would I have liked to keep more of my money by Indie publishing? Sure, but my writing account was tapped and when it came down to it, I couldn’t afford to Indie publish. So I sacrificed a percentage of sales and dove in without an advance. And I’m still waiting to see that sales sheet! But that’s okay, I know I’m selling books from my reviews and Amazon sales ranking.

Whether you choose Indie or go with an e-publisher, one thing is certain, it’s going to take a lot of work and you should always do your homework before you decide. But the good news is if your novel has been rejected by traditional publishing houses,  you don’t have to bury your book. You can breathe new life into your manuscript through e-publishing.

Gina Conroy is founder of Writer…Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. Represented by Chip MacGregor, she finds time to write fun, quirky mysteries in between carpooling and ballroom dancing . Her first mystery Cherry Blossom Capers, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012, and Digging Up Death is available now.