This article, by Kristen Tsetsi, originally appeared on Inside The Writers’ Studio on 2/7/11.
Once looked down on as a path for the untalented, self-publishing (or independent/indie publishing) is becoming an increasingly more respectable way for authors to get their work into the public eye. Some have used it as a stepping stone to a “traditional” publishing deal, while others are content, even happy, to do-it-themselves. Some authors have even found self-publishing to be a viable way to make a living.
April Hamilton and Zoe Winters are two writers who were at the forefront of the “Indie Author” movement. April is the founder of Publetariat, “an online community and news hub built specifically for indie authors and small, independent imprints.” Zoe produces a humorous animated YouTube series called Zoe Who?, which seeks to combat the stigma that still surrounds self-publishing.
In addition to their own works of fiction, April and Zoe have each published informative guides for writers who are considering self-publishing: April’s is called The Indie Author Guide: Self-Publishing Strategies Anyone Can Use and Zoe’s is Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author (click on the pictures for links to purchase). Today, Inside The Writers’ Studio talks to April and Zoe about their books, about the conflict between the traditional and indie publishing worlds, and about what makes a good self-publisher.
PAPER RATS: When did you start writing your book, and how long did it take?
APRIL HAMILTON: The Indie Author Guide began life as a series of free how-to guides I wrote and offered for free on my website. As I kept cranking them out, it wasn’t long before I realized I had more than enough material for a book and decided to collect everything I’d already written, plus a lot of new material, and publish it as a book. All told, it probably took me about five months to author the material and one more month to deal with editing, formatting and publishing.
ZOE WINTERS: I really don’t track that sort of thing. Becoming an Indie Author had been a concept for awhile. Then when I took a break from the Internet in October, I decided to get serious about finishing and editing it. Because it spanned a bit of time and sat unworked on for awhile, I don’t really know how long it took. I’m like that about most books. I don’t clock them. They just take as long as they take. I don’t even know how long Blood Lust or any of the novellas took. Time becomes sort of meaningless when you’re on your own schedule.
RATS: Where do you live?
APRIL: I live in Los Angeles, California.
ZOE: Planet Earth. Though there have been rumors I live elsewhere.
RATS: What would you say is the primary focus of your book?
APRIL: The main thrust of The Indie Author Guide is to provide clear, detailed, plain English, step-by-step directions in self-publishing and author platform/book promotion tasks. If I’ve succeeded with this book, anyone with a modicum of computer skills and a willingness to learn can use its content to self-publish in print and ebook formats, and then go on to develop or optimize an author platform and book promotion strategy. The Indie Author Guide is all about empowering individual authors and micro-imprints to tackle publishing and book promotion by providing them with the specific information and instructions they need.
ZOE: Attitude. I give a lot of tips and how-to, but the main focus, besides stripping away all the extra fat to basically say: “okay, this is what you REALLY need to know to get started. Here’s my process…” was the concept of having the right attitude. A lot of the book had personal experiences of mine along the way as well as a lot of troubleshooting and mistakes I’ve made. A lot of it is about this idea that you don’t have to be perfect to do well. You’re going to make some mistakes, everybody does. It’s what you do with them that makes a difference.
RATS: Please share the chapter titles that appear in your book.