Coat of many colours

January 17, 2015

Or should I say, wearing many hats? Because that's what an indie author has to do.
You'd think writing the novel would be the end of things; that's how I always imagined it. You wrote a manuscript, you sent it to an agent (probably many, until one of them accepted you), then you sat back and let the agent and the publishing house do all the rest. You just carried on with the next novel.
Oh, I know the publisher's editor would require amendments here and there, but nothing drastic, otherwise they wouldn't have agreed to take your manuscript on. Right? The inaccuracy of this particular point is a whole other blog, but in my naivety that's what I thought would happen.
Self-publishing is so far away from this idea, it could be on the moon.
For indie authors the hard work actually starts after you hope you have a completed draft. Once you think your baby doesn't need any further tweaking you send it out to an editor (if you can afford this) or a selection of beta readers (if you can't), and hope they are able to and are willing to help you knock your manuscript into shape. At this point I would like to thank my beta readers - I don't know what I'd do without you, and I wish I knew such people existed before I put my first novel out there.
Then comes the re-writes, after you've already done numerous rewrites off your own back. Then once that last round of tweaking is completed, it needs to be edited, or beta read, again. Even if you can afford an editor, it's still useful to discover what readers think of your work, so after the final edit, off to a beta reader or three.
Then when everyone's happy with the meat of the thing, it needs to be proof read, by at least two million people (not exaggerating, nope).
Finally your baby is ready to be released into the big wide world, and if you haven't already done so, you need a book cover. It took me over a year and three self-published novels to discover that there are wonderful people out there who will do this for you. Either pre-made or commissioned. Wish I'd known that earlier: it would have saved me much time and effort playing about with FotoFlexer and powerpoint, and I would have gotten a much more eye-catching, relevant and professional cover. At least I can always redo the cover and this is something I'm working on at the moment - well, not me: I'm going to pay someone to do it. Properly. Because I don't have the skills.
Ok, next the blurb.It's not as easy as it seems. I spent a long time trying to see what works for other novelists ie, would their blurb make me want to read their book and why, and looking at blurbs that give away everything about the story, so there's no point in reading it all all. I'm still not sure if my blurb works.
A newby author may not realise just how important cover and blurb are: I didn't, although it looks like common sense to me now. You may have written the best novel on the planet, but if it ain't got kerb appeal no one's gonna buy it.
All ready to go, but what about the format. Do you publish as a ebook? Do you get it printed in hard copy? Then you find out about Smashwords, Wattpad, Kindle Direct Publishing and Create Space and realise you can have both digital and actual versions. And you discover, to your immense joy, that the formatting is totally and utterly different for all of them and you have to spend another decade or two glued to your computer, not writing but tweaking (still not exaggerating!).
Right, so now you've got the damned thing out there, and by this point you may very well be happy to never set eyes on the damned thing again, but you'll find you need to put another hat on. A marketing and advertising hat. Facebook, tumblr, twitter, blog, and don't forget a webpage and probably a whole host of things I don't know about. Author interviews (though how you get those, I haven't figured out yet), tours (?), workshops, and so on.
Big sigh. Flower arranging or pottery has never looked so good...




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