Friday, November 22, 2013

Making the Transition from Traditional to Independent Publishing


Anne K. Albert
Welcome to Make Mine Mystery, Anne. Tell us how and why you left traditional publishing to become an independent.

Life is a journey, and so too is the road to becoming an indie author.

 I never imagined I would one day publish my own books. But then, I never imagined ordinary people such as myself wrote books either! Yet, at 45 I decided to give writing my all. I spent the next fifteen years honing my skills. With seven completed manuscripts in hand, I entered contests (won several), attended workshops and conferences, queried agents and submitted my stories to editors.

The rejections piled high until three years ago when a small publisher offered a contract.

At 60 I became a published author! While I knew nothing about the book industry, and even less of social media, I was determined to do my part to promote my books.

And promote I did.

For two solid years I spent every waking hour online. I blogged. Took part in blog tours. Tweeted. Established a presence on Facebook. I also read how-to books, posts and articles that promised success if the author did this or did that as advised by the experts.

So, how did that translate into royalties? Sadly, it did not. Payments always arrived late (as in months, not weeks). Statements were nonexistent, while excuses from my publisher were so plentiful I lost count.

When my husband pointed out I’d earned more at ONE Saturday morning yard sale than I had during my two-year writing career I fell into a funk. I stopped writing. I stopped promoting. I stopped blogging. I ignored Facebook. And I was totally and utterly miserable.
Worse, I suspected my publisher was partially to blame. But how was that possible? Was I being paranoid? Delusional? Unable to decide I terminated my contract in May 2013. Within hours my books were withdrawn from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. I was stunned. I had no idea my publisher could move so fast!

I expected to feel relief, and that did happen. But what surprised me was the depth of sadness that washed over me now that my books were no longer available to readers.

I spent the summer in a writer’s purgatory. Towards the end of July I received the rights back to my books, and also discovered 14 other authors had recently ended their association with my ex-publisher. The reason? Fraud and breach of contract. One writer was swindled out of $5000.00 in royalties.

Misery changed to anger, and that’s when I made the decision to go indie. I realized no one cares more about my writing career (or the proceeds I would make from it) than me. So, I set up my own publishing company. Because I’m Canadian I applied for my EIN (US Employer Identification Number). Next, I set up an account with Amazon’s KDP, and in early August re-released DEFENDING GLORY, book one of the Piedmont Island Romantic Suspense series, in ebook format. FRANK, INCENSE, AND MURIEL hit the shelves this month.

These may be small victories in the grand scheme of things, but they’re huge in my world.

Was it scary? Yes. Did I make mistakes? Oh, yeah! Would I do it again? Absolutely. In a heartbeat.

If you’re considering going indie, my advice is go for it. It’s a fantastic time to be a writer. It’s an even greater time to be self-employed and queen of your universe!

Here are a few tips to help you get started.

(1)  Read everything you can get your hands on about self-publishing. Start with these sources:

http://www.thebookdesigner.com/

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/





(2)  Once you have a better understanding of what is required, decide how much of the process you’ll do yourself. Will you edit and format your books, design the covers, or hire someone to do it for you?

I chose to do it all myself. (I do have beta readers, however, that are worth their weight in gold. They believe in my stories as much as I do, and for that I am eternally grateful.)

 Money was also a factor, but the experience with my ex-publisher also left me with some trust issues. I wasn’t prepared to hand over my books to a stranger. Besides, with a degree from an art college (I graduated in the Stone Age!) and my past work experience at a daily newspaper, as well as a stint as editor for a weaving magazine, I felt confident I could do this. Plus, I love being in total control. If I succeed or fail, I have no one but myself to blame. J At this point in my life, that’s important.

(3)  Start your indie career by publishing something small such as novella or small non-fiction book. The task will not seem as overwhelming, and it will allow you to get a feel for the process. Each time you publish a book it will get easier.

At the moment my books are only available as ebooks. To be honest, when I set out on this journey I could not cope with the enormity of formatting in both versions. So, I took it one step at a time. Sure, it may have cost me a few sales, but my blood pressure is normal! I am determined to offer my books in print in 2014.

(4)  Embrace your mistakes because you will make ‘em! The joy of self-publishing is you can fix them lickety-split. It costs nothing to upload new content, and those mistakes are golden opportunities to look at something differently or tackle a task from another angle.

(5)  Dreams can come true. It can happen to you! If a 60-something woman who first saw a computer in her forties can be an indie author, so can you.
***
About the Author:Anne K. Albert has taught high school art, sold display advertising for a weekly newspaper, and worked for a national brand water company, but now writes full time.When not at the keyboard, the award winning author enjoys traveling and housesitting with her high school sweetheart husband (22 countries to date), visiting friends and family, and of course, reading using "Threegio" her cherished and much beloved Kindle.
She writes the Muriel Reeves Mystery series and the Piedmont Island Romantic Suspense series. Her books are available on Amazon. Visit her blog. She is also on Facebook and Twitter @AnneKAlbert.

Thanks, Anne.

7 comments:

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I was with a couple of crooked publishers early on. Most discouraging.

Barry Knister said...

Anne--
My route to indie publishing was brought about by two factors. First, I was originally published commercially, but then lost my agent. Two later agents in succession--representing separate books--failed to get me deals. Number 2: checking myself in the mirror and seeing turkey wattles at the neck, I concluded I was too long in the tooth to continue schmoozing and stroking those in the world of traditional publishing. End of story.

Anne K Albert said...

It is or rather was discouraging, Marilyn, but being an eternal optimist I view it overall as a positive experience. I'm back. I'm stronger. I'm more knowledgeable about what's involved, and what works for me and my career. Really, I have so much to be grateful for...including those series of road bumps life throws our way!

Anne K Albert said...

Hi Barry, I hear you about those turkey wattles! I've got a few of those myself.

On a serious note, I agree with you. At this stage in my life I don't feel as if I have the luxury of time to once again wade through all the requirements of a traditional publishing career. I'm enjoying being in charge, and I'm happy with the results so far.

Wishing you every success, Barry! (Gobble, gobble!) ;)

Anne K Albert said...

Jean, hope you're feeling better. Bill, THANK YOU! :)

Morgan Mandel said...

Great Advice, Anne!
I'm also a proud and happy indie.
And, a huge factor was the fact I'm not getting any younger and don't have the time to wait around at the whims of a traditional publisher.

Morgan Mandel
http://www.morganmandel.com

Anne K Albert said...

I'm with you, Morgan. And like you, I'm enjoying the freedom to do it my way!