Indie Publishing Lessons Learned

Whew, the release date of my second book has come and shortly gone. I’m not such a newbie now when it comes to writing and publishing. I can honestly say, I’m stronger, better and have a totally different view of being an author and one of an Indie or Small Press publishing company. Over a year ago, my husband had the idea of starting Phenomenal One Press. A small press or indie publishing company to publish not just my books but books of other YA authors that fit in his vision for the press. I was to be his test subject. Let me tell you, this journey has been rewarding for us both and have taught us the value of a thick skin and a positive attitude of learning.

STARTING THE PRESS

My husband researched and researched before he came up with his business plan. He’d always had a business of some sort and went to school for marketing so he was excited to have a new endeavor. He set up the publishing company, got his LLC and started scoping out organizations with resources that would help him. He set up an account with Bookmasters that supports small presses in sales and distribution as well as printing. He just didn’t want to spend too much time on the semantics as much as on the selling aspects of the business.

BEING THE WRITER

While he was diligently working on finding a support system, an editor, a proof reader and learning the publishing business, I set out to finish my books. He and I worked on a book marketing plan, then whittled it down to what we could afford to accomplish. I was his first guinea pig author.

THE HARD LESSONS

With the business plan done, the support of bookmasters, IBPA and MWA secured we started to network. I pursued getting book reviews, he pursued getting the books into the stores. He was having great success simply because he was a sales person that didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer but found creative ways to get a ‘yes’ out of venues and bookstores.

The hard lessons came mostly from book reviewers, book review sources and authors who had prejudices against small press/self-published or indie authors/publishers. He’d get frustrated with some of the email responses we received concerning this and would respond that we were like any small business trying to get off the ground. He the publisher worked to provide a quality product which would be edited then packaged, promote and sell it. My job was as a writer who would write the best tale I could write. Would everyone like what we had to offer ? No, but that was okay as long as they gave us a chance to present our product.

PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF

Now with the release of book 3 in the making, the persistence and re-inventing the way we did things in the past have helped greatly. Now we’ve learned the correct way our print runs should go. We’ve improved our editing process which has improved the quality of our product. Previously we only had one editor do one pass, now we have an editor, a proofreader, and a second editor to review the work. We now know how much of a budget to set aside and how to pre-sell most of our initial runs the first time around. We also know what’s worked, what doesn’t work for us and have garnered the support of naysayers that were first prejudice against our small status. Additionally, we try something new with each release. We’ve hired interns that have a background in writing, business and marketing to teach them what we’ve learned and to benefit from their fresh perspective.

IN THE END – A DREAM FULFILLED

If you are a writer and decide on this path without the support of others, separate the writer from the business. The publishing part of the equation has to be sales oriented, thick-skinned, and tenacious. Getting the product beta read, edited (edit it well because this is the first thing that is assumed is a problem with small press or indie pubbed books), create a marketing plan for each book, a reasonable price point for each book, and pace yourself.

At the end of the day, this journey has been the most rewarding of my life.  It’s given me an avenue to teach my kids that they too can start a business. To share my stories with others and it’s allowed me to mentor young people by giving them a basis to build their dreams their own way. Also, it’s been a catalyst of discovery that through each stumble I make I turn it into a learning opportunity to better myself and to be proud of what I’ve done. Why? Because like I always say, “You only ever get one life.” Why wait for someone else to give you your dream, create the pathway for it yourself. Worse case? You tried and failed, but have learned from the experience of it all. Best case? You succeed beyond your imagination and enjoy the dips and turns along the way.

LM Preston is the author of The Pack and Explorer X-Alpha, http://lmpreston.blogspot.com