Welcome to my stop on the Untraceable Blog Tour!
Today I’d like to welcome the author of Untraceable, S.R. Johannes, to the blog! S.R. Johannes releases her debut novel, Untraceable on November 29th — a super exciting and oh-so-romantic wilderness thriller. (You can checkout my review here.) I ran across her book a couple months ago and was just impressed by the promotion and marketing Johannes was doing for Untraceable. You all who’ve been following for a bit, probably know that I’m very interested in the marketing and promotion aspect of Indie publishing and how important I think it is to publish a quality product. So when I saw the following as a suggested topic for the blog tour, I jumped at the chance to talk to Shelli a bit about why the indie publishing movement gets such a bad rap and how established and up-and-coming indie authors can help alter this perception of the indie publishing trend. So, I give you…. S.R. Johannes….
Changing the Stigma of Indie Publishing
Hi Dani – Thanks for having me.
Dani: Hi Shelli! Thank you so much for being here!
So, when talking about the “stigma of indie publishing” would you say that most readers have a positive or negative view of independently published books? Why do you think that is?
Okay – so I’m going to be totally frank here. Hopefully I won’t offend anyone.
Unfortunately the view of indie publishing is very negative. I will admit (not proudly) that I always had a negative view myself. I felt that most indie published books were of a low or cheap quality and came from people who could not get published.
Every independently published book I had ever seen was someone trying to sell me a spiral bound copy from a trunk of a car or people pushing them on my at conferences or festivals. I could obviously tell were indie published.
This view was the main reason I fought independently publishing my own stuff for so long. I had been on the traditional side with an agent and going to acquisitions – so indie publishing would have been admitting to myself that I wasn’t good enough. At least that is what I thought at the time.
Boy, I was so wrong.
Did you know that the majority of the eBooks on Amazon’s top 100 are independently published? Seriously, go look at it. They did it the right way so you can’t tell. Then, once you dive into the wonderful indie community, you realize that there are so many great writers out there that are indie published. Not to mention famous ones. Like Christopher Paolini or John Grisham. Some choose to publish independently and some do it because traditional pubbing hasn’t worked for them for whatever reason.
I also met a great group of girls who had indie published and we created a support group. Their books have all been done the right way. The professional way. And you would never know unless you knew imprints or houses.
As an author, you undoubtedly want your literary masterpiece (that you’ve painstakingly labored over, cried over and lost sleep over) to present its best face to the world. So, in your opinion, what are some of the most common pitfalls authors need to be aware of when independently publishing a book?
First of all, authors need to realize it is not free to indie-pub. There are costs involved – especially if you want to do it right. I say, you get out of it – what you put in. I’ve been very open about my costs on my blog so people would be able to see what it took to do it right. I’ve put about $2,000 into my book in order to do it the right way – the best way I could. And I don’t regret any of it.
Some people don’t care about doing it right – they just want to do it and do it now. I think that is the wrong attitude. Don’t do it because you are desperate or impatient, do it because you are ready. Part of the reason, independent publishing gets a bad wrap is because of those people who use bad clip art on their cover, who are pushy to sell a copy no matter where you are, who don’t edit their writing, and who just push stuff out – way before it’s ready.
Spend money on a quality, high res, and unique cover. Spend money on editorial feedback and especially copy editing. Spend money on ISBNs so people can order your book. If you do it for 100$ it will look like a 100$ book.
I say – don’t do it just to do it – do it right.
That is just my opinion.
In your personal journey to see your own book published, what measures did you take to ensure that Untraceable didn’t fall victim to some of these common mistakes?
I hired a photographer to do my cover because I wanted something original and high quality. I wanted my book to blend in to the other traditional books that are so successful. I didn’t want to give anyone a chance to say – “Oh this is indie pubbed”. Because then my book never gets a fair shot. And trust me, you will get turned down just because it is independently published. It sucks and is totally unfair but it’s true.
I had one top reviewer say they loved my cover, read my first chapter, loved my premise and wanted to review it – the minute they realized it was indie published – they told me they could not look at it. That stinks that they can like my writing and premise and cover – but say no b/c of that reason. So it’s an uphill battle that you have to be willing to fight.
I had my book edited by a children’s editor and then paid to have it copy edited when it was done. I’ve spent a long time on this book to make sure I was proud of it. And I am.
I also decided to commit. Indie-pubbing is HARD. It may seem like the easy answer but it is not. You do it all ON YOUR OWN. Getting reviews, doing blog tours, cover, typography, editing, formatting. It is a long and arduous process and is a huge time commitment. Before and after you publish. It doesn’t end.
Don’t do it if you don’t have the time to put into it. Don’t do it if you feel uncomfortable marketing and promoting yourself (in a classy and non pushy way).
What are some practical ways independent authors can help alter the negative stigma of indie published books?
Indie pubbing is a short cut to the long publishing process. It is NOT a short cut to writing, revising, editing, revising, and editing.
I think some authors just write a book in a month and stick it up on Amazon without getting it beta read, edited, and copy edited. It is instant gratification.
Untraceable took me 2 years to write and has been through the editing ringer. DON’T skip the writing steps to get your book out there because you are impatient or it wont sell. And readers can be brutal. They don’t like misspellings or unedited material and they know when it is. Plus your name is on it so if you ever do another ne or try to get an agent, all they have to do is look for you and see what you put out before.
Plus if the author doesn’t care about what they are putting out – I say, why do it?
Many indie authors work with a very limited budget. In your opinion, can a quality book be published on a budget, or do authors “get what they pay for?” Do you have a favorite, low-cost or free resource that you feel has greatly improved the quality or marketability of Untraceable?
Like I said – you get out what you put in.
I took a crappy part time job to fund my book process. Was it glamorous? No. But it was necessary. I am not rich and needed a budget. I think you can do a book for about 1,000 to 2000$ including editing and covers and ISBNs. If you don’t have that – don’t do it. Unless you’re whole goal is to just put it out there and not sell.
You don’t have to pay for photography but you can pay for great stock photos at istock.com. You don’t have to have ISBNs but then no one will ever be able to buy your book at a bookstore. Librarians and booksellers use ISBNs to order stock. They won’t talk to you unless you have one. You don’t have to edit but then you will cry when you get reader reviews. Like I said – they don’t mind paying for quality and get mad when the author doesn’t care and puts out a crappy version.
If you don’t have money to put into it – wait until you do.
Again my personal opinion
Do you have any personal advice to give authors and/or readers when approaching Indie publishing?
Do your research first! I blogged about the process but there is so much to learn. Don’t just throw it out there. And do your best to put out a book you are proud of. A book you would send to editors and agents. A book you can read and be proud of.
Thanks for having me I hope this helped.
Dani: Oh, this is fantastic advice for anyone considering indie publishing, thank you Shelli! So I guess what it ultimately boils down to is this: to change the negative stigma of indie publishing, authors need to value quality and knowledge over expediency and trying to save a buck. If authors want to be taken seriously they need to make sure they are putting out a product of professional quality.
Untraceable launches November 29th, and if you sign up for Shelli’s newsletter in advance, she’s offering a discount on her book for the first 24 hours it’s available to those who receive her newsletter! How cool, right? Just click here.
And now it’s giveaway time!
ONE (1) follower will win ONE (1) Kindle ebook of Untraceable by S.R. Johannes!
This prize requires the winner to already have a Kindle or have access to the free Kindle app for PC, MAC, iPad or smartphone. Sorry, Nook users, but until B&N gets their act together and offers an option to gift books or gift cards priced under $10, it’s gonna be Kindle ONLY.
Please fill out the Rafflecopter form to enter. This is mandatory. Comments will not be counted as your mandatory entry. You must be a GFC follower to enter. Complete rules and conditions are listed below the Rafflecopter form.
Nicole Arellano says
Very interesting insight into the world of indie-publishing! I hadn’t really thought about what these authors go through or the stigma attached to the process.
Laura Pauling says
Great interview and answers to tough questions!
Good luck to the winner
Thanks so much for the interview – it was very informative! If you have a great story and great editing, it shouldn’t matter who publishes the book!
James W. Lewis says
Great info. Investing in a great cover and editing are absolute musts! Although I indie published, I use a graphic designer who also designs books for traditional publishers because I wanted my book to look right off the shelf.
Asheley (@BookwormAsheley) says
this is a WONDERFUL interview! so informative and insightful. LOVED it! thanks gals!
Shelli really had some great info to share, and I hope it’s helpful to those considering going indie Thanks so much for reading and commenting Asheley!