Novel Rocket: Breathe New Life into Your Dead Manuscript Through E-Publishing

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Breathe New Life into Your Dead Manuscript Through E-Publishing

The boney hands of a skeleton type on a computer keyboardSo your manuscript has made the rounds at traditional publishing houses and has been rejected. You’re ready to give up, call it quits with this one, bury it in your hard drive never to see the light of day. It’s dead. What other choice do you have?

You can breathe new life into your dead manuscript through e-publishing. Actually, writers today have more choices in publishing than in the past. Though in days gone by, self publishing has been considered a four letter word, today’s Indie authors, as they are now called, are earning respect as a group of talented writers who’ve studied the craft, polished their manuscripts, and either can’t find a home for their work or have chosen to self publish first.

While Indie publishing is an option for authors who aren’t going the traditional publishing route, it is not the only option. Instead of Indie publishing, many authors are choosing to sign with smaller epublishers which can help an author establish themselves in the market place and make a name for themselves. That is the route I chose with Digging Up Death published by StoneHouse Ink. But before you decide either way, here are some things you should know and questions you should ask yourself before you make your decision.

Anyone can Indie Publish, Not Everyone Should

It’s true. There are authors who haven’t studied the craft enough and become impatient to get their books on Amazon. And they do. Before long, the bad reviews come pouring in. Poorly written, no plot, stupid main character, you get the idea. And they fizzle out with not enough books sales for their efforts damaging their reputation as an author in the process. So before you throw you novel up on Amazon, here’s a check list to see if you’re a candidate for Indie Publishing.
  • Study the Craft and Write the Best Book you Can (Okay, that’s a given)
  • Get your Novel Professionally Edited and Hire Someone to do the Cover Art This doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does require cash. Make sure your editor covers content and line edits and that your cover artist is not your uncle Jimmy who took graphic art in community college and can’t hold a job. You get the idea!
  • Build your Platform and Market your Book No one is going to sell your book for you, so be prepared to market your book 24/7. Yes, it is possible via social media and you might need to for the first three books of your career to build a following of loyal readers.
  • Be Patient All those authors who were impatient to go through traditional publishing channels before they Indie published are in for a rude awakening. Indie publishing is a slow way to build a business. It takes constant work. A lot of work. But it does work.
Discouraged yet? Don’t be! There is good news for Indie authors and many support groups who can help you navigate the process and offer encouragement. Let’s take a look at why you might choose to Indie publish over an epublisher.

Indie Authors Have Full Control Having full control of your novel can be a good and bad thing. Here’s why:
  • No Editorial or Marketing Team
This means you are responsible for everything. The manuscript, the edits, the formatting, the cover art, loading it on Amazon, B & N, Smashwords, marketing, and doing the accounting. No one tells you what to do, but no one helps, either. But remember things might not always be easier with an e-publisher. No two e-publishers are alike. Some may offer content edits, others might only do basic proof, so do your homework and ask lots of questions before you sign a contract. Moreover, I've been told, while formatting for Amazon might require a high school education, for Smashwords you need a PhD, so hiring the formatting out might be your best option.
  • More Money In Your Pocket
Going the DIY route, also means more money in your pocket, but it doesn’t mean selling more books. Sometimes partnering with an e-publisher can give you more exposure and help you sell more books than you can on your own. You also get to set your own price for your book, which affects your profits. But you need to spend more of that money on promotion, edits, book covers, etc. Is it worth it? That’s for each individual author to decide.
  • Access to Sales and Profit Information
The e-publisher I work with sets the price for my book, issues a sales statement twice a year, as does most traditional publishers, and does my sales accounting, which I’m grateful for. This means I have no idea how many books I’m selling or how much money I’m making, but I’m freed up not to worry about the business end of thing so I can write more books. (At least in theory!) With Indie publishing, you set the price, see the sales, and do the accounting.

So what do I like about my e-publisher and why would I choose that route over Indie publishing?
  • I like having a team that is invested in me and my book
They have a stake in whether my book succeeds or not and have helped me through the entire process. All I really had to worry about was edits, backcover copy, and approving cover art. They take care of the rest and are always available for a quick email or more in depth conference call.
  • I’m working with an established e-publisher who knows the business
There are a lot of things that goes on behind the scenes that I know nothing about, and that’s comforting because it frees me up to concentrate on writing that next book. I don’t have to worry about all the details, and I have more credibility as an author with a publisher backing me and my work.
  • I didn’t have the money or time
Would I have liked to keep more of my money by Indie publishing? Sure, but my writing account was tapped and when it came down to it, I couldn’t afford to Indie publish. So I sacrificed a percentage of sales and dove in without an advance. And I’m still waiting to see that sales sheet! But that’s okay, I know I’m selling books from my reviews and Amazon sales ranking. Whether you choose Indie or go with an e-publisher, one thing is certain, it’s going to take a lot of work and you should always do your homework before you decide. But the good news is if your novel has been rejected by traditional publishing houses,  you don’t have to bury your book. You can breathe new life into your manuscript through e-publishing.

Gina Conroy is founder of Writer...Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. Represented by Chip MacGregor, she finds time to write fun, quirky mysteries in between carpooling and ballroom dancing . Her first mystery Cherry Blossom Capers, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012, and Digging Up Death is available now.

4 comments :

  1. Good advice.

    When I was shopping around my first novel, I got some bites from print publishers and exclusively ebook publishers (all indie presses). I went with an e-publisher because of the diversity of their catalogue, the freedom they allowed me as an author, and the friendly/supportive vibe I felt right away. Since signing with them, they've also moved into print publishing and have grown considerably in quality and market reach.

    Of course, I was a bit hesitant initially. With the ease and proliferation of ebooks, publishing houses can release sub-par books with little investment (thus small financial risk). This means that a lot of low-quality books are slipping through the traditional filters, but it also means that many more good ones are seeing the light of day as well.

    We can see this in the music industry, as self-released artists are finding fame and fortune, and the blossoming indie movie industry also shows that the power belongs to the people. However, I'm still in favor of big entertainment institutions maintaining their position at the top of the mountain, because it gives us little guys something to strive for, and someone has to set standards (i.e., trends) because publishing is a business and someone has to keep the ship on an even keel.

    That being said, I'm all for anything that gets good books into the hands of readers. Money is nice, but readers' eyes are the best reward.

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    1. I agree, Mark. "This means that a lot of low-quality books are slipping through the traditional filters, but it also means that many more good ones are seeing the light of day as well." Yep, and that's exciting for those of us who can't see to catch the eye of a big publishing house. As long as people are reading...

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  2. Interesting peek into indie publishing with an e-publishing company. I went the completely self-publishing route and love it.

    I made my own covers (I KNOW, very bad) until the books had made enough money to pay for good covers. I didn't do any marketing (only free days through Amazon) and had pen names. They've done really well despite me learning as I go and I love to check my sales every day.

    The total cost to me so far has been covers (at $210 each) formatting (at $25 each) and the steep learning curve of switching from traditional to self-publishing. My earnings are more than fifty times the financial cost (in only five months) so for me it's been an amazing revelation.

    P.S. *whispering* The first line o the article has a typo and it shows up in the e-mail link.

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    1. Good for you, Virginia! and thanks for the p.s! That's what happens when you're over worked and never paid! LOL!

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