11 April 2011

Self-Publishing: Behind the Scenes with G.L. Drummond - Guest Post

G.L. Drummond
Hey there! Many thanks to the lovely and talented Carrie for allowing me to be here today.
I’m going to babble about the self-publishing process as I personally do it, using my newest title, Code Walker, as my example.
My tools are MS Word and YWriter5.
Obviously, the first step is to write, and complete, a story. Which can be a bit difficult for me, since I’m the Hop-a-long Cassidy type of writer. Code Walker is an excellent example, as I began writing it back in 2008, and then set it aside for two years before recently completing it.
I used to post each new part to my blog or a site that I belonged to for feedback while writing. I don’t do that anymore, though I do have five beta readers that I send works in progress to. 
Beta readers are invaluable. They offer constructive criticism, point out inconsistencies, and help steer me away from trusting the reader too much. I have a habit of thinking readers can read my past brainwaves and will KNOW what I meant when writing a particular scene.
I am an alien, y’all. My brainwaves don’t always stretch into the future for readers to tune in to. Heh.
During the writing and beta readers’ comments, I go over the story a dozen or more times. Polishing, re-wording, cutting, and adding as needed. Once the story is the best it can be from all of that, I send it in for editing. I have two lovely ladies who edit my works, @BiblioBrat and @tmycann.
Both are excellent editors. Editing fees can range from $20 or so, up to several hundred or even $1k, depending on the final manuscript’s word count.
While the story’s in edits, it’s time to come up with a blurb and the cover.
I suck at the blurbage, and usually ask my editors and/or Kate Smith, a fellow KKP author, to write one, or to clean up the fumbling garbage I spew out. For Code Walker, I asked Kate to come up with a blurb:
In the fickle worlds created when cyberspace and reality overlap, it’s all too easy to blur and shift lines…moral lines, lawful lines, lines of code and destiny, until the surreal becomes real. Walking those lines back to the source, and rebooting the system, isn’t exactly a job for a girl who plays nice - but it does pay extremely well.
As Riley Cabot never qualified as a ‘nice girl’, life as the Code Walker is sweet.
Only thing about codes is that they break.
This year, I’m doing something new where covers are concerned. Before, I used the tools I had available (namely Poser) to create my covers. But after a few fellow indie authors politely pointed out that my covers might be partially responsible for my rather pathetic sales, it was time for a change.
Since I currently can’t afford to shell out $100 or more per cover, I’m still designing my own. But I’ve begun using stock photography instead. There are several sites where you can purchase royalty free licenses for quite reasonable fees.
Code Walker’s cover cost a whopping $29 in licensing fees, and took about 4 hours to create. First, I selected some images and used the preview of each to create cover mockups. Once I had one that I liked, I purchased the licenses and downloaded the larger, higher quality images. Then all I had to do was put them together (I didn’t use Photoshop for this cover, but FireWorks).
One thing to note: Code Walker isn’t long enough to justify releasing a print version, so its cover is purely for web advertising. Advertising usage is allowed under the standard license – but print book covers aren’t always included in the standard licenses. So check for that if you take the same route and plan to release a print version too.
By then, I’ve likely received the edited manuscript, so it’s time to approve edits and make any suggested changes that I agree with. To be honest, I do usually agree with changes my editors suggest. It’s rare that I don’t, but it does occasionally happen.
Now the story is ready to become an ebook. I use the Smashwords’ style guide to format it (it’s a free download). Something I’ve learned is that the final .doc can usually be uploaded to Amazon’s KDP without doing more than changing a bit of the info on the copyright page.
I prefer to distribute my ebooks DRM free where possible – Amazon and Smashwords.
Here’s where it might get a bit tricky: you have to upload the file to Smashwords before you can purchase an ISBN for it. So I upload, purchase that, add the number to the file in the appropriate spot, then re-upload the file.
An ISBN is $9.95 through Smashwords, if you want your own imprint to be listed as the publisher of record. If you don’t care, Smashwords has freebies and getting one of those means that they will be listed as the publisher of record for your ebook.
I have my own imprint (Katarr Kanticles Press), so prefer to purchase ISBNs.
Last, I opt-in through Smashwords to distribute it through their partners, which include B&N, Kobo, Sony, and others.
Ta-dah! New ebook published and distributed.
Code Walker’s wrap up:
Roughly 70 hours writing/acting on beta readers’ advice/polishing. Four hours to design the cover. A couple of hours approving edits; the same for formatting, and an hour or so to upload to Amazon and Smashwords.  Production expenses are just under $400 for editing, an ISBN, and stock image license fees. I don’t count my time in those, because you start thinking about charging higher prices.
Oh, I forgot to mention pricing. That’s something else I’ve made changes to this year, and I price based on finished word count.
Hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peek at my self-publishing process. Thanks again, Carrie! =)

Thanks Gayla for your insight into the self-publishing industry. You are truly a shining example of professionalism in Indie and take your craft seriously (else you wouldn't have all those spreadsheets and historical stats!). I want to wish you good luck with attaining your first 500 sales. 
 To all my readers, please consider buying this book up to help Gayla attain that goal. It's on sale right now for under an American Dollar. See links below.
- CC
 Code Walker is on sale for 99 cents during the blog tour at Amazon and Smashwords . After that, the cover price will be $2.99, and it will be available at other sites.

G.L. Drummond is a sword-toting alien with a fetish for fur and four-legged creatures who writes fiction & tweets. Indie author/self-publisher.

Follow her on Twitter for highly amusing tweets about House Hunny, her adventures in writing, and the paper toss gig.


Karen said...

A friend of mine was just asking how authors self publish and I had no idea - great post.

Anonymous said...

An extremely useful and informative post.

Scath said...

Hope it's helpful. Thank y'all. :)

Tony Noland said...

I agree with above comments - very helpful.

Scath said...

[hugs Tony] Thanks. =)

tanya bell said...

Thanks Carrie and Gayle, it's great to see how others are doing it for themselves, keep up the good work.

Scath said...

You're welcome, and thanks, Tanya! =)