Getting Published: Independent
Now, here is where I am currently with my writing. Becoming an independent publisher is astonishingly easy. But, there are two very different pathways to follow. Technically, one pathway is not necessarily that of an independent publisher although you would be acting in that capacity. The second pathway requires you to establish yourself as an independent publisher. And, it’s not that hard!
First, I set up an LLC many years ago. This is not that expensive and it gives you protection from lawsuits. Your LLC can be sued but your personal assets cannot be touched, in theory. I recommend this first step to protect yourself. You can find out how to do this at multiple sites on the internet.
Second, I had to decided which one of those two directions to take. You can publish directly through Amazon and their publishing program. You can read all about it on Amazon. It is relatively simple process once you understand it. The downside is your book will be ebook format only unless you choose to pay extra for producing print copies.
The other format is Ingramspark (https://www.ingramspark.com). Ingram is the largest book distributor in the world. Setting yourself up as an independent publisher with this entity is simple. Just go to their site and watch their tutorial. It costs nothing to set yourself up. The cost comes when uploading a book. Also, you can make your books returnable, which means a book store can order your print books and if they don’t sell, return them for their cost. As the publisher, you are given the choice of having those books then shipped to you at your cost or destroyed (at a cost). Either way, returnable books can be placed in brick and mortar stores if they choose. These stores will NEVER take a POD, strictly, print on demand, book that becomes THEIRS once it is printed. The Ingramspark model is still POD, but the books can be returned. No warehouse fees involved!
CAVEAT: ISBN numbers. They are essential for your books. Amazon will offer to supply you with an ISBN for a cost. Ingramspark will ask you to get these numbers before uploading a book for distribution. Go to myidentifiers.com to purchase ISBN numbers (I recommend in bulk as you will need a separate ISBN for your ebook and your print book).
Now, don’t worry about getting lost in the weeds. Go to https://www.thecreativepenn.com for all the necessary information to get started. Joanna Penn is a Christian author with some of the best and most vital information on publishing your own book. Go there. Watch the videos. Buy some of her ebooks. Look through her tool section. This is absolutely the most useful and most trustworthy site I have found. I learned about book layout with Vellum from her. I learned about my book designer, ebooklaunch.com through her.
And, she has curated some of the more reliable “self publishing” companies that work with you as an independent publisher. They have programs that combine the necessary services you need but they also have these services a la carte.
Also, consider joining an independent author or publisher organization. I am a member of IBPA, Independent Book Publishers Association, (https://www.ibpa-online.org/default.aspx). Being a member costs an annual fee but you get several excellent discounts from all kinds of services, including Ingramspark, that will save you money.
Here is my timeline:
Write the book. This will take a few months.
Do the final edit and final rewrite on the manuscript. This usually takes me about a month. Note that in the book layout you will have more than just the manuscript: Dedication page, Foreward, Introduction, Copyright page, Manuscript, Afterword, About the Author, Lists of other books you’ve written, etc. You will need all of this when laying out the book. Look at other books to see how to lay out the Copyright page, for instance.
Go to myidentifiers.com and assign ISBN for both ebook and print format. There is a lot of information you will have to supply on their website such as name, author name, format, book description (the “blurb”). Author biography. Genre, etc.
Purchase Vellum software (Mac only, sorry!) and import manuscript and produce book layout.
Vellum (and there are other services available to do this for you listed online at Joanna Penn’s website) will generate the final book formats for all ebook formats and a print format. Note you will have to decided on the size of your book.
Once your print book has been generated, you will have a formal page count which is essential for the final print book cover design.
Contact ebooklaunch.com and begin process of cover design. For both print and ebook cover is $595. This is a bargain but there are other websites Joanna Penn recommends that might be cheaper. Just bear in mind you get what you pay for.
Work with book designer on:
Your logo (imprint, publishing name)
Bar Code with price (optional) and ISBN
Once the cover has been designed and approved — takes about two weeks — you are ready to upload everything to Ingramspark.
Sign in to Ingramspark and begin process of creating a new title. Again, you will need lots of information for your book as you did for the ISBN including meta data (genre and subgenre) keywords for internet search, and final pricing.
Once books are uploaded (with both an ebook cover and a separate print cover) it will take a couple of days for Ingramspark to make sure all files will work and then you will receive a “galley” proof to approve.
Once proof is approved, your book will be available on the publishing date you chose when setting up the title.
Begin the real work of promoting your book. The work does not end with the book being available. That is when the real work begins to promote and market your book.
If all of this seems overwhelming, just stick to what you can learn from the sites through their help files and tutorials. Again, Joanna Penn has all of this information covered to help you out. Just don’t call me! I’m too busy, as you can see in the list above, working on my own book to walk you through the steps. There is plenty of that kind of information on the websites I’ve mentioned. And don’t hesitate to look for your own step by step help by searching the internet. Just be careful before spending money on anything without doing a search for an INDEPENDENT review of that service!
Traditional Publishing: Very difficult to break into for a beginning writer.
Self Publishing Companies: Do your homework and review a company before you spend thousands on your book.
Independent Publisher: Amazon Kindle versus Ingramspark. You can do this yourself.
Know the essential ingredients:
Finished, edited manuscript
Back of the book “blurb”
Market analysis: What is the genre? What are the keywords? Who is your audience?
Idea about the cover (check out other covers of other similar books)
LLC: To form one or not
ISBN if you decide to publish by yourself
Other book elements: Dedication, Copyright material, About the Author, Author photo, Foreward and Afterword, Introduction, etc.
Price of your book for both print and ebook. As you will learn ALL books will be discounted on any platform so keep that in mind before you establish a price. Check out similar books.