Indie Only Month…It’s that time again!

Indie Only

The picture says it all – July is Indie Only month at Sammi Loves Books, and so I shall only be reviewing independently published stories by indie authors for the entire month.

I have spent the last few days planning my reading for July – yes, I am trying to be more organised than last year! 🙂

For more information, check out the Indie Only Month page, comment below or contact me via the contact me page.


Indie Only Update

Trust that as soon as I decide to set myself a reading challenge that is supposed to last the entire month, a million and one things crop up!

Now, the majority of these ‘things’ are my own fault, and based around my own writing (if your interested to learn exactly what these things are, check out my writing blog here.   Hint: it might have something to do with my series, The Andromache Jones Mysteries).

Rest assured that I have only been reading Indie authored / published stories this month, and hopefully over the next few days or so, I will begin to get my reviews posted here.

I am still aiming to have at least eight reviews in total for ‘Indie Only’ month and I have currently got four reads under my belt.  It’s not outstanding, but it is in line with my usual reading pace.

If you have any recommendations for Indie Only month, please comment below or use the form on the ‘Contact Me’ page.


Self-Publishing Options

Following on from last week’s publishing post, A Question of Publishing Routes, I thought I would continue by looking at some of the self-publishing options out there that I am considering or that have caught my attention…In the first part I shall focus on ebooks…(and don’t for a minute think I am an expert, these are only a few random thoughts 🙂 )

First off, I don’t the like idea of paying someone an upfront fee for publishing my work, either digitally or in print.  The way I see it (at the moment, at least) is either my work will be published on its own merit, or I will publish it myself, meaning that although I will have to do all the hard work, and there is a lot of it to do, if it pays off, I will get all the rewards too.  It just seems a little cheeky to me to be expected to pay someone else to publish my book, and on top of that, give them a cut of the money it makes as well; one or other is fine, but both?  No, that makes me a little uneasy.

I already use the Smashwords platform as an eBook distributor.  Granted both of the ebooks I have available through them are free books.  Having looked into selling ebooks through them I found out that US tax law requires Smashwords to retain a certain amount of money made through sales, until you supply them with a certificate from the UK’s tax department (because I am based in the UK).  This sounded rather complex and convulted, which made me seek out some of the alternatives available out there and I came across…

XinXii, a European-based ebook-publishing platform who don’t require non-EU writers to provide any tax documentation (obviously wouldn’t apply to me anyway).  The returns would be more or less the same as Smashwords without providing the previously-mentioned paperwork.  However, XinXii doesn’t seem to have the international marketing and sizeable audience that Smashwords has.  Out of the indie authors that I have so far come across through blogging, etc,  I have never seen any that use XinXii.  Most use Smashwords or…

KDP, that is Kindle Direct Publishing.  Of course, the Kindle and Amazon platform is huge, but I must admit that I have heard that some find the publishing procedure complicated, and with a certain option (the KDP Select) you can only offer your book exclusively through them and nowhere else digitally.  However, the fact is that many authors do use KDP and do so successfully.

There are other options out there, including print publishers who include ebook publishing with the services that they offer, such as Lulu, who I shall discuss in the next part of this publishing series.

I think, if I am honest, I will stick with Smashwords.  Both my attempts at publishing with them were easy; I had no issues whatsoever with formatting and made it into the premium catalogue with my first attempts (fingers crossed, that run of luck will continue!).  The bonus of getting the ebooks into the premium catalogue is that the ebooks are then able to be distributed elsewhere, including Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Apple’s iBooks.   KDP doesn’t appeal to me; it sounds too complicated, and I like the idea of being able to offer my book where I like (of course, I reserve the right to change my opinion on this at a later date 🙂 ).  I liked the sound of XinXii but it doesn’t really seem to offer a reach as big as Smashwords.  I know that success with Smashwords is only really possible if you are willing to really put the effort into your marketing, but isn’t that the case with all the self-publishing options?

Are you an indie author?  Who do you publish your ebooks with?  How would you describe the experience or your success?  Any words of warning or advice?  Please feel free to share any thoughts you might have below…

A Question of Publishing Routes

To an author, the hardest dilemma they may face today is a question of publishing route.  Do you want to go down the traditional publishing route or does the idea of self-publishing appeal to you? This decision can come down to a variety of things, and opinion is split as to which one is best, for the author, for the reader, and for the writing industry as a whole.

It is often said that most authors would ideally go down the route of having their book traditionally published.  But why?  Because it speaks volumes in terms of having the backing of a publishing house.  Your work, and your talent, is being endorsed, recognised by those ‘in the know’; those who understand the writing industry, those who know what it takes to write a quality book, those who know the market, and those who know a great book and a great author when they see them.  It also does wonders for one’s confidence to know that your work was chosen above potentially thousands of other novels.  So what other benefits are there?  Well, for a start, professional editors get to ‘fix’ your manuscript, giving your words a polished, professional look.  Then there are professional cover designers, marketers, international sales teams…the list goes on.  But the available places on the books of big publishing houses are very, very limited.  On the downside, the time frame from submission to printed book available in the bookshops is lengthy – I have come across estimates of two years in some cases.

Today, the likelihood is that the majority of authors and would-be-authors have to look elsewhere to fulfil their publishing dreams and ambitions…

Self-publishing has become very easy over recent years.  Anyone can be a writer and publish their work.  This is great for the authors who believe their very life’s purpose is to see their book(s) published, to know that someone out there is reading what they have written.  There is a down-side to this though, and I have already mentioned it “Anyone can be a writer and publish their work.”  There is an argument that with the rise of self-publishing, an already saturated market has been inundated with mediocre offerings, which in turn is harming the industry as a whole.  Those who managed to put together professional-standard books are finding their work hidden amongst the badly written and badly presented.  But does this mean that the self-published route should be avoided?  As with any form of publishing, we have to rely on the reader to know a good book from a bad book.

A good self-published book is not easy to achieve.  Not only does the author have to come up with a well-written manuscript, but they have to transform themselves into a top-notch editor and cover designer, not to mention be able to format their book as well as successfully market it.  After all, a book is like any other product.  The better it is or is perceived to be, the more likely a potential reader will be willing to part with their money for it.  As economic strictures force disposable income levels down, the harder it becomes to sell a book, especially when you’re self-taught in all the areas mentioned above, and possibly without the network and connections to market the said book.

Self-published books have, on the whole, have got  a bit of bad press.  Poor grammar, bad spelling, low standard or grasp of language, are all often cited as to why self-publishing is disliked in some quarters…but then of course, not every self-published book falls into this bracket.  I have read many self-published books and most of them have been well-written, engaging and well-worth paying for and subsequently reading.  The truth is, without self-publishing there are many books and authors that I would never have come across.

Then there is the question of what is the purpose of having your book published.  Are you hoping that it will become a new career? Possibly a hobby that will bring in a little extra cash? Are you doing it for the pleasure of doing it, and sharing your words for free?  What do you think of the term “vanity publishing”?  Do you agree with it or does it offend you?  Do you think such a label implies that your writing/book is substandard?  The ultimate question is this: Where do you see it leading?

Arguably there are repercussions if you go down the self-publishing route.  What if your work is spotted after you have had it self-published?  Can self-publishing now impact your chances of get traditionally published in the future?

As was said at the beginning of the piece, the choice before an author is not an easy one.  Currently, I am asking myself the same questions.  Having written two complete novels in a series, in September 2012 I wanted to see if I could do something with them because I love them (what author hates their own book?).  I decided to write a short story that preceded the series, a freebie if you will, to entice readers to my books (see The Magician front cover on the side bar).  The feedback I have received has been greater than I had expected.

In a way, that has now made my decision on how to proceed all the harder.  I am now working on the final stages of the follow-up to that short story, but when I should be concentrating on the finishing touches, instead I am questioning publishing choices.  If I could choose, of course, I would jump at traditional publishing in a heart beat.  Yet, as with every other author out there rejection is a hard knock to take.  I have been there once before; I didn’t much care for it, and I avowed I would never put myself through it again.  And yet…what if that is never an option presented to me?  It would seem like an awful waste of time and effort, sweat, tears and hard work, to see it all come to nothing, which brings us back round full circle, to self-publishing.  At least that way some people would get to read it, right?