Author Beware—What to Look for in an Indie Publisher
On Wednesday, we talked about all the types of publishing paths and how the new paradigm is becoming increasingly flexible and author-friendly. There is no “right path” only a path that is right for you, which we will talk about in a moment.
To keep up with all the changes in The Digital Age, we created WANACon, which is a virtual conference and as close to the real thing one can get without a holo-deck. No travel, no hotel, from home, and all recordings are included so you can fit a writing conference to your schedule no matter where in the world you happen to live. Also you can listen to anything you miss or might need to revisit. Talk to agents, editors and professionals without ever stepping outside.
Over 20 presentations on craft, social media, platform-building, web design, cover design, and agents…delivered straight to YOU. No matter which publishing path you choose, WANACon has you covered—Traditional, Indie and Self-Publishing. Our Early Bird Special lasts through January 31st. Use the code EarlyBird for $30 off the $149. Sign up here.
Since WANA embraces publishing as a whole, we have USA Today best-selling authors, best-selling Indies and Self-Pubs. As I mentioned, WANACon has even recruited literary agents and editors to present and take pitches. We want the perfect fit for you.
Today, one of our presenters, PDMI Publishing is here to talk about the advantages of Indie Publishing and what to look for before you sign any contract (whether it is with them or another Indie Press).
I know PDMI is committed to writers. They’ve been very good to me and extremely supportive even though I’m not one of their authors and they make no money being kind to me. Even WANACon is almost 100% volunteer. It’s how we can keep the price affordable. Yet, PDMI is sending in an entire team to educate authors.
Take it away, Victoria!
Most of us go to work to pay the bills; if we get to enjoy our job, that’s a plus. If we’re passionate about what we do, that’s both unusual and remarkable. But should it be?
Many Indie publishers are guided by the idea that, if we’re going to spend so much of our lives working, why shouldn’t it be a pleasant experience? Passion is paramount. From the owner to the newest trainee editor, a good Indie team loves what they do, and they’re committed to the authors in their care.
Indie houses are in the pioneer stages of development, and this sense of being in at the start of things gives their products a fresh edge and encourages imagination. This is what makes dealing with an independent publisher so special for an author.
The question is, how does an author find the right fit? What can she hope for? What can she demand? At our press we look at three crucial areas of expertise, and we develop teams for each author based on her goals and the expertise required.
Step #1 Editing
This heart-wrenching but critical piece of any professional publication starts before the manuscript is submitted. First, an author needs to make sure – double sure – that her manuscript is in the best possible shape before it’s submitted. Check each press’s submission requirements and follow them closely. Indies are usually understaffed, so an author can lose a chance at getting an ideal fit simply because he/she failed to follow instructions.
Editing, a conversation between the author and her assigned editor, usually occurs at least twice. Many times the editor is paid from royalties, so he has a vested interest in the book’s success. The author should find a mentor; a guide–someone that allows that special voice to shine but brings polish and professionalism to the text. The process can take 3-4 months to complete.
No editor will make a good team member if he’s continuously harassed about a manuscript. On the other hand, the author should get an expected timeline for delivery and start checking if a deadline slips by. Find someone who can help you grow something other than gray hairs.
Step #2 Artwork
Indies also give an author an opportunity to express her work in illustrations and cover art. The author needs an illustrator that listens to her voice and happens to care what is actually in the book. However, it’s also important to listen to the pro when it comes to marketability. Remember, this is a team.
The Indie staff has a vested interest in the success of the book, so use their expertise. Indies might have several illustrators, and sometimes more than one will work on a book. The author should look for the partnership that makes her feel like part of the process, and not like a commodity. But listen to the artist – you don’t want your book to get lost in the crowd, and a stan-out cover that pops can be critical for success.
Artwork doesn’t stop at the cover or with a few illustrations. Formatting style can be the difference between looking like the book came off a copy machine at the library or looking like a crafted work, designed by someone with a passion for detail. Not all Indies spend a lot of time here. While searching for a team, consider purchasing a published book from the potential press. Does the work look like it can compete in the commercial market, or does it look like it came off a mimeograph machine?
Step #3 Marketing
The last component that our team focuses on is marketing. Kristen is the ninja when it comes to author strategies for marketing author brands and their work. Yet, an author still needs a publisher that is willing to support all that hard work. Indies have very limited resources for adverting, and they tend to use them judiciously, but there are many things that an author should expect as a bare minimum. Again, in this world, it should be a team or the author needs to keep searching. Not all Indies are equal in this most critical step.
The author should expect help to secure several reviews in different venues. There should be an active program to submit manuscripts for awards. At our press, the editorial department is responsible for selecting the book and the genre. Our authors can enter in more genres if they choose. We also help with special events, conventions, and signings.
Some Indies require their authors to have a webpage, some build them; still others offer training. In our case, we have a close-knit group that supports each other and shares ideas on how to get the book and the author in the public eye. Sometimes our clubhouse looks like Romper Room, sometimes the War Room; but we have fun and support each other every step of the way.
Writing is a lonely occupation, but for those who connect with one of the growing number of small independent publishers, it can become a bit like joining a family. There is a true sense of coming home and knowing that for all the employees of the firm, your success will be felt as their success. It’s what they come to work for and what makes dealing with them so rewarding.
Who are we?
We are PDMI Publishing, LLC; a place where team is a way of life, not a cliché. Our Marketing Team, Peter Wells and Daven Anderson, invite you to join the company at the Birmingham Public Library Authors Expo in Birmingham, AL on February 1, 2014. The Expo runs from 9:00 AM to 3:00PM. We’ll be taking Kristen with us! Well, at least we’ll have her latest book, Rise of the Machines, on hand. On February 2, some of our authors will be guests at 2nd & Charles in Hoover, AL for a book signing event from 1:00 to 3:00. You can also catch us at WANACon 2014!
Wherever you go, whatever you do with your career, stay true to yourself as your manuscript finds its way to market. Find a partner that helps you mold your thoughts into a professional and marketable piece of work. Here at PDMI, we’re happy to help you discover what path is best for you; this is where we “sculpt personal voices and visions into print.”
Thank you so much for your time. As a writer who was once Indie, I can attest these are all areas we must examine thoroughly before making any final decisions. It’s a lot of work writing books and building a platform. A publisher—ANY publisher—should make life easier. No press is perfect, but publishers can strive to always improve and innovate. My experience with Indie was very positive. I know there are many wonderful committed teams out there who love writers and love books.
What are your thoughts? The PDMI Team will be around to answer any questions and I look forward to seeing y’all at WANACon!
I LOVE hearing from you! Comments for guests get double points.
To prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
I hope you guys will check out my latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World and get prepared for 2014!!!!