We’re happy to welcome Lily Silver to The Editing Essentials today!
Lily has been swimming opposite the mainstream currents for most of her life. She has been practicing the art of writing since 1992, when as a homeschooling mother of two, she desperately needed something to do that didn’t involve the kids. Once her children were grown she returned to college as a non-traditional student at 42 years of age, and spent the next several years trying to pick ‘just one’ major. As a journalism student, she achieved an award for excellence in journalism, and went on to become the editor of the college newspaper, a staff writer and staff photographer.
Lily never did find that one perfect major as she explored art, writing, theatre, photography. She graduated with a B.A. in History and a B.A. in Humanistic Studies with an emphasis in Ancient and Medieval Research, a minor in Art History as well as a minor in 2 Dimensional Art. She’d still be in college if they’d pay her to keep learning and acquiring degrees. True to form, Lily has chosen to go against the flow again by choosing Independent publishing over traditional. She published two full length Historical Romance novels on Amazon in the spring of 2012.
Dark Hero is a Gothic Romance with paranormal overtones. It is Book One in the Reluctant Heroes Series. Some Enchanted Waltz is a Time Travel Romance depicting the events of the United Irishmen’s failed rebellion of 1798. Bright Scoundrel, Book Two in the Reluctant Heroes Series, will be released in October 2012.
Visit Lily’s website and blogs at: lilysilver.webs.com strictlygothic.webs.com romancinghistorylove.blogspot.com/ strictlygothic.blogspot.com/ incurableromanticandlovingit.blogspot.com/
Independent publishing has divided the publishing world. There are authors who love it and those who reel back in horror, regarding it as <gasp> vanity publishing. In the past, self publishing was considered a poor substitute for the traditional publishing routine. Independently published authors had to spend oodles of money hiring a printing press to print large orders of books the author then had to try to sell on his own. And, there was a stigma connected to the practice as the author was considered ‘not good enough’ to have found a real publisher to accept his work.
With the advent of e-readers and e-book retailers, writers can now upload their books directly to online platforms and readers can purchase them within hours. This phenomenon is similar to what happened in Paris with the Impressionist Art Movement. You had a traditional gallery system; art curators decided what would be shown to the public and what wouldn’t. Unknown artists like Van Gogh kept trying to gain admittance to these exclusive salon exhibitions. The curators refused to allow the Impressionists to exhibit paintings, so these imaginative men held their own art show and invited the public to attend. It was a success, and brought new styles of art to the forefront for art lovers to purchase. Art dealers of the time thought Van Gogh’s painting was crap. Today, everyone knows who Van Gogh is. Thankfully, he and other artists were persistent about presenting their work to the public when it was refused entry into the traditional salons.
A similar revolution has taken place in the publishing world today; writers can upload books to digital stores and readers can decide what they want to read instead of corporate publishing houses.
Why choose to self-publish?
First, let me point out that the term self-published is not favored among us because of past stigma attached to it. We prefer to be referred to as independent or Indie Author to describe writers who have uploaded their works to digital platforms.
I have been writing seriously for twenty years. I submitted manuscripts to traditional publishing houses in the late 1990’s. I received very polite rejection letters. My last attempt at traditional publishing was in 1999. After that, I returned to college for several years. I still held the dream of one day sending a finished manuscript to a traditional publisher. At the beginning of this year I attended a talk featuring two authors with experience in independent publishing. They were having astonishing success selling their work on digital platforms. After hearing their experiences with both traditional and independent publishing, I decided to give independent publishing a shot. The results have been amazing. With over 6,000 downloads at Amazon in two months as an unknown author, I have found an audience for my work. Another plus is making 70% of the royalties instead of the typical 8%-10% with a traditional house. The best part is receiving letters from readers who say they enjoyed my books and asking about sequels.
Is working on the cover art difficult?
Not really. I did need to spend time searching online stock photo databases. My son is a graphic artist, so all I needed to do was purchase stock images and send them to him for my first book. He did the rest. For my second book, I purchased a pre-made cover from Romance Novel Covers. I was pleased with the results of both covers. If someone is proficient in Adobe Photoshop, they could easily create their own cover. If not, the good news is that there are tons of great graphic artists who can create digital cover art for a reasonable fee.
What have you learned from other writers about their experiences with Indie publishing?
Patience. You need a lot of patience. It’s like building a snowman. You start with a small snowball in your hand and keep rolling it in the snow until you have a life-sized snowman. It is the same with finding an audience for your work. It takes time. An added benefit of Indie publishing is your book can remain for sale indefinitely, allowing readers to discover it. With a traditional publishing, if your books don’t sell well within a few months, they are pulled from the shelves and returned by stores. Also, it is important to have someone proof your manuscript. This is where critique partners or freelance editing services like Written Dreams come in. You want to present the best book possible, so you need other people to help you remove the warts before you hit that ‘publish’ button.
Which outlets (Amazon, GoodReads, etc.) do you feel work well with authors? Which platforms are the easiest for new writers to use?
Amazon is easiest. It’s also the top digital platform at present. Smashwords is good, but their formatting requirements are a little more technical. If you download the formatting guide and follow it, you’ll be fine. Smashwords will convert and distribute your books to all the e-reader platforms (Apple, Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc) for you, so that is the place to go if you want to have your work distributed on all platforms. All the outlets accept indie authors but a few, like Apple, only allow distribution to them through an aggregator like Smashwords. Others, like Amazon, B &N and Kobo allow authors to upload directly to them.
Goodreads is helpful to authors. I held a giveaway of Dark Hero in June. 786 readers requested the 4 print copies offered. As a result, many readers put the book on their ‘to read’ list and will hopefully purchase it. Through August 25th, I have a similar giveaway in progress at Goodreads for print copies of Some Enchanted Waltz.
Indie publishing isn’t for everyone. It requires courage and determination. You wear a lot of hats; writer, editor, art director, and marketing. Yet, it is a rare opportunity for authors brave enough to take up the challenge. I’m glad I did. The rewards are well worth the effort.
Thank you, Lily, for taking the time to be with us today, and for the excellent advice on Indie publishing.