Becoming an Indie Author and Self-Publisher

Sher's Ebook Asthma Tips & Advice
Self-publishing and indie-authors came into their own in 2013. It’s also the year I I became an indie author and self-publisher. It’s a journey that’s only begun.

Why Did I Become an Indie Author?
I enjoy writing and wanted to add another income stream to my diversified “egg basket.” Some of my online friends have gone the indie author route and are earning nicely with their self-published books. When I first began writing online, it was a difficult thing for me to do. The thought of “putting myself out there” scared me. The internet is a big public forum. I’ve typically been one who likes to remain unnoticed, but this changed once I began interacting with people online through my writing. The thought of writing ebooks to a potentially broader audience again created that fear of “putting myself out there.” After seeing the success of my friends with their ebooks, I decided to go beyond this fear and begin writing ebooks of my own.

Becoming an Indie Author
A year ago the “writing a book bug” hit pretty hard, so I started an asthma ebook. Asthma Tips & Advice is my first book, and is available on BellaOnline, Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Nook and other platforms. To date, I’ve only sold two books. Not something I like to brag about, but I’m still learning how this entire process works. I have a lot to learn about promotion, design and more.

What is an Indie Author?
An indie author is a self-published author—someone who decides to publish on their own. They may choose to sell ebooks from their own website or a site designed to sales and distribution site, such as Amazon.

What is Self-Publishing?
Self-publishers decide to publish their books on their own—with no agent or publisher. They make all decisions regarding the publication of their book. An indie author may choose their own editor, book cover creator, while choosing when and with which sales and distribution platform to publish.

Me: Indie Author & Self-Publisher
I’m one of those that used to look at self-publishing as a type of “vanity press.” However, I have broadened my horizons considerably. Indie authors are quite brave and willing to put themselves “out there.”

“Putting myself out there” has never been easy; putting out a book was one of the more challenging things I’ve done online. With my book, I’ve chosen to completely go the rough route of indie author and self-publisher. You could say I’ve been bootstrapping my book. Bootstrapping is actually a great way to learn how book creation and publishing works. The process has been challenging for me, but I’ve learned so much. Learning through mistakes isn’t easy, but it sure beats sitting on the side lines watching all the indie authors have all the fun!

Ebook Creation
My Ebook creation process involved taking select articles from the BellaOnline asthma site and turning them into an ebook. My original concept of an asthma book was to create one big ebook, covering the major aspects of asthma. Once I put all the information together for the asthma book, and did the editing, it became clear that one ebook would be much too big. I decided to break the book up into different sections, making it a series of at least three ebooks—possibly more.

When you’ve finished the writing and editing process, the next step is to compile your book into the proper format. I read several books about formatting an ebook file for Amazon, but somehow those explanatory books didn’t “click” with my brain. The best information (for me) was from the Smashwords Style Guide , by Mark Coker. This ebook is free and offers excellent step-by-step directions for ebook creation. Mark included well-developed tips and helpful explanations to guide the author through the book formatting process.

Once I used the Smashword style guide to format my ebook, the entire process became less painful. The style guide worked for both the Amazon and Smashwords ebook versions of my asthma book.

Ebook Platforms
So far, I’ve only done an ebook form of my asthma book. I’m looking into creating a POD (print on demand) version, too, but for now will stick with the ebook. I chose Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program and Smashwords. Amazon is the biggest book and ebook sales and distribution platform online. Smashwords is big, plus they will distribute your book to other ebook sales distributors, such as iBooks, Nook, Kobo and others. Using these two platforms, I was able to be included on all the major ebook store shelves. My time is somewhat limited, so this was the easiest and fastest way to get my ebook in front of a wider audience.

Author Platform
The author platform is a significant way for writers to reach out to their audience, and help their audience connect with them. An author platform lends visibility, credibility and authority and reaches out to a specific audience. An author’s platform is not used to self-promote, make the hard sell or be outgoing. A platform is a way to bring people to you, the author. The platform is built with quality work and consistency over time. It’s about learning more and sharing this with those in your network and audience. It takes time and effort to build an author platform.

Activities that help you built your platform include publishing quality work, producing a body of work on your own platform (blog, email, etc.), which draws quality followers. Speaking and attending events where you network and make new contacts is another part of building your platform. Social networking online is another tool to build your author platform. Creating meaningful ways to connect with others and develop your audience is the goal of the author platform.

An author platform may consist of a website (the author’s, social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, along with email lists and speaking events. It’s important to find what method of platform building works best for you and your target audience.

These are a few of the things I’ve learned about being an indie author and self-publisher. It’s a great adventure and a wonderful way to help others and create another income stream—all at the same time. It will take a lot of hard work to get this “stream” to flow—this is no get-rich-quick scheme. However, the satisfaction of getting out there with the other indie-authors sure does feel good!