This interview was such fun! Zoe and I laugh our way through the serious but fun topic of being an indie author.
Zoe Winters is an independent paranormal romance author and has written the Bloodlust trilogy of novellas which have sold over 22,000 copies. She is also a passionate advocate of ‘indie authors' and blogs at IndieReader.com on this topic.
In this podcast you will learn:
- How writing inspiration can come from your obsessions and loves – whether that is Buffy or the Bible! How Zoe created a world of vampires and shape-shifters and other paranormal creatures. Write the books you want to read, don't get hung up on what you “should” write.
- What is an indie author anyway? Indie authors are self-publishing but they are reclaiming the word. It's more like indie bands and indie film-makers. It's about control and understanding how it all works, as well as self-esteem. Most indie authors do most of the work themselves. They pay for some services in order to make a professional book like editing and cover design, but use technologies like Print on demand and ebooks for distribution. Zoe recommends LightningSource as the best option. You do need to be a “publishing company” to be on Lightning Source as well as owning your own ISBNs.
- Main distribution method for indie authors is online. The costs are down, you can reach an audience more easily. You can still do print as well as ebooks.
- Once you're selling well on Amazon, you're in the system and the more you sell as you get recommended. Selling on Kindle and Amazon is the best way to sell. Use dtp.amazon.com
- Get a professional editor for your work. Polish your writing and work with critique partners before you send it to the editor. Then they can improve it from there.
- If you can, learn to do your own formatting. Smashwords style guide for Kindle. Perfect Pages by Aaron Shepard. Pro typesetting is not really necessary for a standard fiction text-based novel.
- If you outsource, make sure you understand the contract. You can find professionals on Twitter.
- Being an indie author is not for everybody. You need to be into keeping creative control. You also need to have a thick skin as there are many nay-sayers. You need to treat it as a real business.
- How Zoe balances her time between writing and marketing after 2 years into indie authorship. It is difficult but you do need to focus on your writing as well as marketing. It's good to build up a list of people who want your books and support you. There is a good community of people who are out there, doing their thing. Social networking is more about connection, not hard core sales. If people like you, they are more likely to buy your book.
- On the Zoe Who? videos. Zoe wanted to take advantage of a video audience but didn't want a book trailer or to put herself on the video. So she used XTRANormal.com to make some funny videos on self-publishing and being an indie author. Check them out on YouTube here.
- On writing for the market or writing what you love. As an indie you can respond to the market quicker as the lead times are shorter. You can get a book to market much faster. We talk about Joe Konrath who is making 6 figures from selling ebooks.
- How we feel about our first drafts and sending to editors. Zoe talks about “Save my Soul” and I talk about “Pentecost”. Most writers start with rough drafts and then it gets better with each revision. On putting the book out there when you have an audience already.
Amazon Kindle Store
And On Smashwords
Here's one of the Zoe Who? animations – you can see more here.