Going Indie on a Shoestring

Until July 29, 2015, I was a traditionally published author only, but things have changed. On that July day, my first independently published novel went on sale, making me a hybrid author.
About six months ago, I received my rights back from the publisher for Thyme for Love (TFL} and its sequel, Love Will Find a Way. The only choice I had to keep the book in the marketplace was to poke my toe into the waters of independent publishing, bettern known as “going indie.”
By going indie and publishing your book yourself, you become not only the author, but also the publisher, editor, cover designer, and publicist. Here is a rough breakdown of the steps I took, all the while striving to keep my expenses down:
1.  A professional edit is normally required, but since TFL was already edited by a professional editor when it was first published, I did not hire an editor. I tweaked the writing in some places and updated the technology, but the content remained the same.
2.  I don’t have the ability to produce a professional looking cover (at least not yet).  The average cost of a good cover design runs around $400, but I was fortunate to win a cover design through an online auction and paid substantially less than the norm.
3. The systems for Kindle, print, and other ebook sellers do not accept a Word document. I considered formatting my manuscript myself with the help of written instruction, but in the end, decided to pay a professional formatter. I’ve never regretted it. When I uploaded the formatted manuscripts, they both passed on the first try. Well worth the nominal expense.
One of my memes.
4. A few days after submitting my manuscript to Amazon’s Create Space for print copies, I was able to order author copies at a very reasonable price. Within a week, they arrived at my door, every bit the quality printing I have received from traditional publishing houses. 
5. There are a few different packages you can use to upload to Kindle. I chose Kindle Direct for the first 90 days Thyme for Love is on the market. This program gives Amazon an exclusive, and the agreement can be renewed every 90 days. Several benefits come with this program, including promo packages and advertising. 
You can check out the Amazon page by clicking here!
6. Marketing is the last, and probably the most important, step. Unless you can afford to hire a publicist, you are the publicist. Word of mouth is always the best way to get results, but to get the buzz going you need to get your book title out there. There are services that maintain huge mailing lists that you can use to send Twitter notices about your book. I bought 10 links from Ask David at www.askdavid.com. For $15 you receive a Supporter Pack which includes 10-12 Twitter announcements that you write up yourself.  

I’ve become quite adept at designing memes and posting them in various places like Twitter and reading groups on FaceBook.I use both Photoshop Elements and Swift Publisher, a publishing program for Mac. There’s a fine line between posting enough to make your book known, but not so much people stop following you. But once you hit a good balance you should see steady growth in sales. 

One of the best benefits of indie publishing is there’s no waiting for a royalty statement from my publisher. The Amazon site not only tells me how many books have sold, but also the total amount of royalties I have coming. For a while I became obsessive in checking my sales, and anxious! More about that in my next post.
Does this mean I’m not planning to have my stories published by traditional publishers in the future. Absolutely not. I’m working on pitches right now for my editor appointments at the ACFW conference next month. The  landscape of publishing has changed and is continuing to change at a rapid rate.  At first, the thought scared me quite a bit, but now that I’ve gone indie on TFL and will soon do the same for its sequel, I’m embracing the changes and finding the process quite enjoyable.
Have you published indie yet? Are you planning to? Please share your own experiences and tips in how to market your indie books in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

A native
of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago
with her two rescue cats. Her novels include Thyme for Love, and Love
Will Find a Way, contemporary romantic mysteries, and her 1933
historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. When she
isn’t at her laptop writing her latest novel, she can often be found nosing around
Wisconsin and other midwestern spots for new story ideas.