3 S.R. Johannes: The Schizophrenic Indie Pubber

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Schizophrenic Indie Pubber

Today I wanted to talk to you about all the roles I feel like I'm playing as an indie pubber - just to give you an idea of what you will have to do if you take this journey.

Because 1/2 of it - I never thought about. I kinda thought I would upload a book and then market it.
  1. Writer - this one is a given :)
  2. Editor - in order to not spend thousands of dollars - you need to be even better at editing. use your money wisely so your copyeditor is faster.
  3. Budgeter - you could keep spending money so you have to come up with a budget and prioritize your funds (if you even have any :). But there is no way to do this free.
  4. Cover designer - you need to know what looks good and what doesn't. Placement, fonts, and copy. Whether you pay someone or not - you need to know what concept you want and how to define quality. If you know photoshop, you are golden. Learn it if you can. It will save you time and money.
  5. Jacket copyeditor - you need to know how to write good jacket copy.
  6. Formatter - unless you want to pay someone to format.  You will have to format in several different ways, depending on what ebook format you need (epub, mobi, pdf, paperback etc). I think I did four for Untraceable.
  7. Researcher - you need to be able to get online and find answers to your own questions as well as find questions you should be asking yourself. There is not a detailed guide. You also need to be keeping up with the ebook/digital market.
  8. Account manager - you need to manage all your author accounts online. Right now with paperbacks and ebook formats - I probably manage and check five different sites a day including B&N, Amazon (2 different ones for PB and ebook), Smashwords, as well as all the places Smashwords delivers to (kobo, ibooks etc) - you need to know what your book is doing and check the information. 
  9. Inventory - You need to know what you are selling and keep track for your numbers to reconcile records.
  10. Accountant - you need to be able to figure out what you should be getting paid from each place. This requires spreadsheets and daily counts.
  11. Lawyer - You need to follow up with pirates who are posting your book for free downloads and send letters.
  12. Marketer - You need to know how to get the word out about your book, have the time to do it, and follow up.
  13. Assertive without being aggressive - you need to know how to ask for blurbs and reviews and interviews without annoying people.
  14. Social Networker - you need to keep managing all your social networks and stay out in front of people (without being obnoxious.) blogs, twitters, facebook. etc
  15. Interviewee - you need to be able to fill out tons of requests for interviews, reviews, and more.
  16. Advertiser - you need to know what ads you can pay for, what ads are free, and which ones are most effective. This requires looking at free sites and searching for site.
  17. Supporter - you need to support others in their journeys. It is not all about you.
  18. Typer - I wish I could type faster, If you are a "pecker" (keep it clean) then take lessons.
  19. Swagger - You need to know where to go to get swag for your signings
  20. PR rep - you need to call and set up signings or other PR related activities. You need to write and drop press releases. And contact media for articles/features/ and interviews. Create your own press kits.
  21. Agent - if you want to get your book picked up by agents or film agents etc - you still have to send queries etc.
  22. Problem Solver - Problems come up daily whether it is your numbers disappearing at amazon, or a blogger who forgot to post an interview, or a price discrepancy. They come up every day.
  23. Self Believer - Indies get rejection too. And it hurts. You have to move on and find those who support you instead of chasing the ones who don't.
  24. Thanker - you need to thank those who support you.
  25. Multi-tasker - I shift all day long between these roles. It's exhausting.
  26. Panicker - you gotta be able to work while you panic. Crying is allowed but your fingers must never leave the keyboard. ;)
  27. Night owl - it is when you catch up.
  28. Project manager - when you have cover designs and editors - you have to manage to a budget and a timeline.
  29. Sales - you have to be out there selling without being cheesy about it.
  30. Psychologist - i have to talk myself down off a ledge every now and then. Of course I do live in a one story so not too bad. :)
All this along with mother, friend, wife, cleaner, laundry doer, cooker, dog walker, appointment maker.

Last on the list - To find a way to only sleep 6 hours a night and not be a total bear (still working on this one)

Basically, indie pubbing is like running your own business - all by yourself. So all the things a business would do - you would do. It's Entrepreneurial Authoring.

I think that is it. But I'm too brain dead to remember.

What do you think?/ Do any of these surprise you?

If you can think of another one, please add it to the comments. :)


Julie Hedlund said...

It doesn't surprise me, but it sure does sound daunting. It IS a business. I hope everyone who plans to self-publish finds this post so they know what they're getting themselves into.

One question: Do you have any time left to write? Or do you plan to keep up at these tasks for a while and then take step back on marketing/PR, etc. That's one concern I have is how would you ever have time to write another book?

Tasha Seegmiller said...

I figured most of this, and I think it is one of the reasons that I am hoping to find traditional success because I'm currently bread winner (yay economy!) and I just don't think I could keep going with all this as well. However, I'm so so so so impressed with you and others who can do this.

I think you guys (indelibles) need to make capes or something because you are seriously super heroes.

Susan Oloier said...

Most of this is not new. I've been reading a lot about Indie publishing lately, as I am headed down that path. However, lawyer and PR rep (mostly the press kit part) did not occur to me. Excellent post!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

AMAZING list, Shelli! I hear ya, and it is exhausting!

And, well, it's not only an amazing list, but YOU are AMAZING!!!

Unknown said...

I'm really glad I didn't know all of this when I started. :) Baby steps, peeps, baby steps.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Wow. I don't think it surprises me too much, but it does scare me to death. :-)

McKenzie McCann said...

And this is exactly why I admire self-publishers to the ends of the earth and back. It takes some serious devotion to do all of that.

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm with Shannon - more than a little terrified! I think I have the panicky part down pat though! :)

You impress the heck out of me, Shelli! :)

Brent Hartinger said...

I'm increasingly coming to the opinion that it's IMPOSSIBLE to be one's own editor. It's like being your own psychologist -- no one is objective enough. I'd encourage all self-pubbed authors to hire an independent editor AND a different copy editor. You'll end up with a much, much better book.

(Among traditionally published authors, you can always tell the ones who refuse to be edited -- their books start to suck *cough* Anne Rice these days *cough*)

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

I agree Brent. I use copyeditors all the time. They rock and I could never do what they do. BUt as writers we need to also be more diligent in catching things ourselves. Some copyeditors will charge by the hour and the better your is - the better price.

Maureen said...

Hi Shelli,
Yes that is an exhausting list!
I decided to take the plunge with my mid grade that was getting close all the time but no cigar... and launched it as an ebook this week. Along the way I learned about book trailers so add in storyboarding and film directing... choosing music and stock photo's.
On your list I didn't think about lawyers and pirates...luckily I'm married to a copy editor.
The marketing thing is the one that daunts me...
Ah well since the book went live on Tuesday I have sold 6 copies, LOL can't beat friends.
I have been asked by other writers here to tell them how I did it...so I am writing a short series on each part of the project. As I compile a weekly roundup of great publishing tips I'll add your post in this coming week. It is a good wake up call to everyone to know what they are getting themselves into.
Kia Kaha (stay strong, more power to you)
Maureen Crisp
New Zealand

Unknown said...

I'm doing all of this and some! Amazing that I've found time to comment on blogs today, probably just trying to escape for a while. :0)

Unknown said...

Indie authors are jacks of all trades, and we better be masters of most of them :)

roh morgon said...

I'd say that just about covers it.

I self-pubbed my first novel in October (both print and multiple ebook formats)and followed that with two short stories and a novella (ebooks).

It's exhausting. And yes, being your own book designer, publisher, marketer, accountant, etc definitely eats into writing time.

But even if I'd realized all the work involved before attempting this on my own, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

It's much better to venture into unknown waters armed with the knowledge and experience of those who've gone before you.

Thanks again, Shelli, for sharing your adventure into indie pubbing!

Unknown said...

I saw a comment on a post over on another blog yesterday (Christine Nolfi's maybe?) and in it, the commenter compared indie-pubbing to owning your own business. I had never thought about it that way before, but it is so true.

Which makes me think I would not be the best indie-pubber. All my attempts at owning my own business have been flops. lol

Rebekkah Ford said...

How do you find out that pirates are posting your book for free downloads? I'm curious because I'm going to be self publishing hopefully sometime in March, and I'm learning all of this as I go.

Thanks for this post, by the way. :)

LTM said...

This is a great list, Shelli! I thought I'd commented on it already, but I think I commented on somebody who'd copied it--LOL! (giving you credit of course)

You're doing great. Here's wishing you all the best w/your books~ :o) <3

Mandi said...

Don't forget - life long student - of the craft of writing. It seems no matter how much I learn about writing, the list of what I don't know just keeps on growing.

I really love this post, and I hope you don't mind, but I linked to it on my blog (maybemandi.blogspot.com). It's definitely eye-opening, but ultimately, I'd like to think, in a good way.

Unknown said...

I love this post.

I'm at the beginning of the journey with a June 2012 pub date. I knew 65% of what you said. The fact that the other 35% doesn't scare me is a good thing -- I think.

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

This is why we find assistants ;)

Unknown said...

So Glad to know I'm not the only one talking myself off of a ledge : )