Going indie: Is self-publishing for you?

JamieLeeScottNote from Jenna: This guest post from one of my favorite writers and colleagues: Jamie Lee Scott

Jamie is an amazing author, screenwriter, and entrepreneur who has a real handle on the world of independent publishing. I asked her to share her insights about the differences and advantages of self-publishing versus traditional publishing, since I know many of us are considering the indie publishing route.

Enjoy it — I know I learned a ton just from reading her piece.




The (not so) New World of Indie Publishing

by Jamie Lee Scott

It wasn’t long ago that self-publishing was deemed “vanity” publishing and was frowned upon by the traditional establishment.

Fast forward to 2011, and a new landscape.

Vanity is a word no longer in the vocabulary, and writers no longer need the traditional gatekeepers (agents, editors, publishers) to tell them what will sell and what won’t, what’s hot and what’s not. Writers can now write what they love and get it in front of readers in record time. Traditional publishers may take as long as two years to get a book from contract to readers, where an independently published author can do the same in a matter of weeks or months. 

My choice to go indie

My decision to publish independently was easy.

I had Let Us Prey finished and I’d been sending out query letters for months. It had been getting some interest when my friend, New York Times bestselling author Jennie Bentley, asked me if I was interested in self-publishing. At the time I wasn’t even sure what self-publishing was, so I did my research. Jennie explained that if I took a contract with a small publisher, with a tiny advance, I’d be lucky to see my book in print by 2013, and even luckier to earn out my advance.

My chances of earning money from my book, and making enough to want to write another would be better if I jumped the traditional ship and waded into the indie publishing waters. Jennie, who herself was wading in those waters with a series of her own, threw me a life vest, and together we swam like our lives depended on it.

If I’d gone the traditional route, I’d be languishing with the mid-list authors, making a few thousand dollars a year if I was lucky, instead I’ve published five novels, one novella, and closed my manufacturing business to concentrate exclusively on my writing.

And I’m not alone.

Two extremely successful, and very generous writers, Liliana Hart and Jana DeLeon, were pioneers in indie publishing, have paved the way for many of us and are part of a collaborative effort to help others in a book called The Naked Truth about Self-PublishingThey’ve been the faces and voices for the masses along with many others who have paid it forward. There are too many to name here, but rest assured you will find them at conferences and talking to authors, generous with their information.

The writer is responsible for all aspects of the publishing process

The biggest difference between traditional and indie publishing is that the writer is responsible for all aspects of the publishing process

So, if done well, the process is going to cost some money. How much depends on how professional you want your books to look.

Don’t skimp on editors, or cover design. Don’t judge a book by its cover doesn’t apply here, because the cover is the first glimpse and may sometimes be the only thing that makes the reader want to look further. If your cover looks as professional as the New York Times bestseller covers, you have a better chance the browser will look at the book description than if the book has an amateurish cover. Giving the book a fighting chance at the start is a must.

And then don’t turn them off by not having the book professionally edited. This book is going to sell your next book. If it isn’t well-written, and edited, you aren’t going to sell the next one, so why bother?

Spend the money now, and you’ll reap the rewards in the long run.

Whether you are traditionally published or indie, you are your marketing director.

Unless you signed a multi-million dollar traditional contract, no one is going to be running a PR campaign for you. The writing is the easy part.

So, now that the first book is written, great, now get your butt back in the seat and start writing the next one. In between, become a marketing guru, and help others along the way if you can.

Podcast in the making

I’ve been so lucky to have help from so many along the way, including the authors of Mirth, Murder and Mystery, that I decided to start a podcast to help others who are interested in becoming authors, either traditionally published or indie published. The podcast is called Indie Girl’s Guide to Self-Publishing and launches this December. It’s a weekly podcast for authors to help navigate the ins and outs of the crazy but interesting and possibly lucrative world of indie publishing.

This is not a get rich quick scheme

Lest you mistakenly think this is a get rich quick scheme, let me assure you, it’s long hours, hard work, and lots of blood, sweat and tears. The market (and algorithms) change on a dime, and keeping up is part of the game. Not only do indie authors have to keep writing, they have to keep in touch with the markets, changes, and much, much more.

Is it worth it?

I think so.


Jamie Lee Scott is the USA Today bestselling author of the Gotcha Detective Agency Mystery Series, and the founder of Indie Girl Self-Publishing Podcast.

She’s the co-founder of Script Chat #scriptchat and TV Writer Chat #tvwriterchat on Twitter, and writer of the award winning short film No One Knows.

You can find Jamie online on Facebook, Twitter, and at her websites, www.jamieleescott.com and www.indiegirlselfpub.com.

diamonds2Thanks for reading!

Note: Amazon links in this post are affiliate links and may generate a small amount of referral income for this blog.



Surprise! Objections are your friends

In a “get unstuck” session I had recently with the multi-talented Jamie Lee Scott, screenwriter and author of Let Us Prey, about a TV sitcom pilot she’s been working on, she mentioned that she kept bumping into the thought: “In the real world, that wouldn’t happen.”

In response, I helped her devise a way she could USE that objection. I had her make a list of how things work in the “real world” and then brainstorm what could happen instead in “sitcom world.” It was freeing for her to USE her doubts and concerns rather than trying to find her way around them.

Turns out, those objections were darned useful.

Get out of your own way

I think your biggest job is to get out of your own way so you can do what you were put here to do, whether it’s writing, painting, healing, speaking, coaching, creating, or some other beautiful way that you’re sharing yourself in the world.

A big part of the way I help you do that work is helping you address your fears, doubts, unsupportive questions, and inner critic’s rants — to reframe those messages and beliefs into more supportive thinking so you can carry on fulfilling your life’s calling.

It’s also worth knowing WHEN to listen to those voices of doubt and HOW to use them.

Wisdom from Walt

Walt Disney used three separate work spaces to develop his projects: One each for the dreamer, the realist, and the critic. The critic wasn’t allowed to speak in the other rooms.

A wonderful neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) technique based on Walt’s wisdom is to walk your project through each stage of development, first taking it to the dreamer, then to the realist (the planner) and finally to the critic. When you reach the critic’s room, the critic is only allowed to ask constructive questions.

The dreamer decides

And the critic is not allowed to answer the questions.

That’s the dreamer’s job.

The realist gets to help too, once it’s her turn again.

This or something better

This is when it’s useful to listen to those inner voices of doubt — when you’re ready, willing, and able to use them and turn them into something better.

On Monday I talked to my screenwriting mentor, Chris, about my latest project. I told him, “It’s good but not great. It’s slow, the world-building isn’t there yet. It’s not a contest winner.” I wasn’t being negative, though it may sound like it. I was in an objective state, standing outside my work and looking at it. By brainstorming together, I got kick-started down a path that I’m even more excited about. Tons of new ideas have been cascading as a result.

The reason? The DREAMER solved the problem — brainstorming is dreaming — coming up with new ideas, looking at things from new perspectives, and being willing to shift in new directions as needed.

Put it into practice

With any creative project, there will always be doubt. Hesitation. A chance to turn back, to do it differently.

What if you took those hesitations — those objections — and used them to make your work even better?

Your turn

Share your thoughts. I always love to hear from you.



Coming Attractions

~> THIS THURSDAY: June 7th. Last day to register for the next 4-week session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle. For serious writers and for writers who want to get serious about their writing. http://JustDoTheWriting.com


What I'm Up To

~> Ongoing. Mentoring with screenwriter Chris Soth through ScreenwritingU.

~> Fall. Heading to Hollywood for a ScreenwritingU event to meet with producers and agents.

~> Sacred writing time. Early mornings and Fridays.

~> Reading Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix now. Still have to get my hands on (500) Days of Summer — Zara said so.