For those of you who are ready to look into the publishing stage of writing, indie publishing offers an opportunity you shouldn’t overlook. Today I’m very pleased to share some advice from two indie author friends of mine, Savannah Jezowski and Tammy Lash. I asked them a series of questions about what the indie publishing process looks like, and I hope you enjoy the wisdom they have to share!
1. What has been the most challenging part of Indie publishing for you?
Savannah: Indie publishing requires a lot of dedication, technical know-how, and networking. When I started out, I didn’t realize how much work would go into it, or how much everything would cost. I spent close to $1800 getting my first novel published and will honestly probably never sell enough books to get that investment back. I also didn’t realize that Indie publishing wasn’t supposed to be a solo venture, although the more I could do on my own the easier my journey would be financially. I began to make friends, ask questions, learn to do things for myself. I’m a natural introvert, so this has been one of my biggest challenges, putting myself out there for people to get to know.
Tammy: The most challenging part of indie is what comes AFTER writing. Cover design, uploading files, marketing…all of it takes time from the part I like the best–writing.
2. What has been the most rewarding?
Savannah: The friends I’ve made, definitely. I can honestly say now, however, that my inner circle of author friends know me as well if not better than my local friends. We spend so much time together pursuing a common goal: strong bonds are bound to be formed. I also love the feeling of holding a shiny new book in my hand. So much goes into making it happen, there is nothing like that feeling of accomplishment. “I did that. No matter who reads it, if anyone, I DID THAT.”
Tammy: The most rewarding part of indie publishing is getting to know my readers personally. I have met my closet friends this way. I’ve gained even more when I pushed past my insecurities to reach out for help in areas that I am the weakest in. The indie community is a wonderfully, supportive network and I feel sooooo blessed to be a part of it.
3. What was the process like for you?
Savannah: My writing career started with half a dozen short stories published in online and college magazines. Then, my novella “Wither” was accepted for publication by a small publishing press. This really launched my career. This experience truly taught me how exciting and how difficult publishing would be. I think it was my defining moment as an author. It took me so long to get that one book accepted for publication, however, that I knew traditional publishing wasn’t for me.
I hired someone to help me with the design and layout for When Ravens Fall, but after receiving my final files, I had a beautiful Print layout but the eBook layout was not something I could use. It would have been suitable for something like Smashwords, perhaps, but it wasn’t meant for a Kindle layout. It didn’t have a linked Table of Contents, no page breaks to signify the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next, etc. I tried to fix it, but in the end, I had to throw it out and start from scratch. This took me months to figure out. I had to delay my release date and then submit several updates until I finally got that little eBook layout figured out. Did I shed tears? You bet. Did I feel like giving up? Again. You bet. But I got through it and learned how to format my own eBook layouts because of it and also to be very cautious about who I hired in the future.
Did my mistakes end here? Sadly, no. Like I mentioned earlier, I spent $1800 on edits for After that I will never see again. I began to put my college classes to use and started designing my own covers, started an author business to help support my author career, offered service swaps with other penniless authors like myself, and suddenly I find myself in a very good position, making a small profit I can use to help pay bills, and still financially able to publish books. I’m even in the process of publishing my first author resource, a non-fiction guide to formatting book layouts for Indie authors title “On My Own.” This will be available in November of this year.
4. For you, what are the pros of Indie publishing?
Savannah: The biggest benefit for me is the control. I like being in control. I like being able to make the decisions about my book. I don’t have to deal with publishers, and designers, and formatters, and editors if I don’t want to. (Although I still do, on occasion). Now, I can do everything but edit my own books if I choose. I love the freedom this gives me. I love being able to choose for myself and not having to settle for something I don’t really like or want.
I’ve also discovered that anthologies are a terrific way to practice your writing as an Indie author, to try new genres, reach a larger audience, and get exposure without having to spend a lot of money. There are so many small Indie presses putting out anthologies.
5. Have there been any cons?
Savannah: Yes. Certainly. Like I’ve already mentioned, the finances are a huge factor. If you aren’t already technical with Word, Google Docs, Rafflecopter, Photoshop, marketing, social media, and the like, you will find yourself with a steep learning curve.
Another area I have struggled is finding Reviewers. Some authors seem to be able to attract them like flies to honey, but others like me struggle. People will tell me they loved my book but never review it. And without reviews, it is very hard for an Indie author to be taken seriously, and equally as hard to qualify for marketing ads.
It’s also time consuming. Since you have to do everything yourself (or oversee the commission of it yourself), you have less time for writing. I would love to be able to pay someone to do all the work so I can just write the stories, but that isn’t feasible for an Indie author. You have to learn to balance your workload and time, and see help from other authors and friends when you can.
Tammy: The biggest con is having to handle everything on your own. Yikes! It’s nice to have full, creative control over your book, but it can also be overwhelming. Choices in cover design and graphics are endless! I enjoy doing both, but they come with a sea of possibilities. This is where your friends come in handy to help you narrow in on a concept and idea.
In traditional publishing, you hand off your manuscript for others to deal with. In Indie, the pressure is alllll on you. Editing, proofing, formatting, and cover design are all something you as an author need to learn to do or find someone that can do them for you. I recently taught myself cover design to save money. I really enjoy the final product when I’m finished, but I can honestly say it makes me nervous. I spend a lot of time on YouTube to help me figure steps out. Marketing involves fun reader interaction, but it is VERY time consuming.
All in all, I love indie and don’t have any plans to switch over. I love the flexibility, I love the ownership, I love the hours, and most of all I love the indie community.
ABOUT OUR GUESTS
Savannah Jezowski lives in Amish country with her Knight in Shining Armor and a wee warrior princess. She is the founder of Dragonpen Designs and Dragonpen Press, which offers author services such as cover design, developmental edits, and interior formatting. Her debut novella Wither is featured in Five Enchanted Roses, an anthology of Beauty and the Beast, and is a prequel to The Neverway Chronicles, a Christian fantasy series filled with tragic heroes and the living dead. She is also the author of When Ravens Fall, a Norse fairy tale retelling featuring Tosk the squirrel. She is featured in several Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, including Mythical Doorways, Tales of Ever After, and Paws, Claws, and Magic Tales. When she isn’t writing, Savannah likes to read books, watch BBC miniseries, and play with cover designs. All of her books are available on Amazon.
Learn more about Savannah Jezowski
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Tammy lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula near the shores of Lake Superior with her husband and three teen/adult children.
Currently, they are working together on their “new” home just outside the Hiawatha National Forest she writes about in her stories.
Tammy enjoys hiking, kayaking, beach wandering, “hunting” for birch bark, and spotting migizis.
She is the author of White Wolf and the Ash Princess, the coming sequel, Letters from the Dragon’s Son, and the short story “Eagle eyes” from the Descendants of White Wolf series.