If you choose to Independently/Self Publish there are a lot of things you need to consider. I’ve said this before but when you publish your own work you are responsible for everything that a publishing house has its own department for. When you set out to publish your work it can be quite intimidating but there are plenty of resources (both free and for purchase) to help you. No matter what your budget, there are information, how-to’s, and more, out there to help you put out an excellent, professional quality book. Today I’m going to focus on some of the books that have helped me, because the self-help section of my local library and Amazon are the places I hit up first. Where possible I will post a link to the book and the price it’s currently at (please be aware pricing and availability is subject to change) for the Kindle version. I feel like I’ve mentioned all these books before, but I suppose it doesn’t hurt to consolidate information into its own article.
- Smashwords Book Marketing Guide Mark Coker (LINK $0.69 AUD)
I found the Smashwords guide helpful. It gives generalised tips, a bit of a glimpse into what the e-book market looks like, and explains the benefit of “going wide” (not stocking your book exclusively with one marketplace like Amazon or iBooks). Of course, Coker encourages authors to use Smashwords, but I am currently not using the service and I still got a lot of useful information out of the book. I have been looking into distributing The Lady of Zion through Smashwords as a trial, but I’ve had more pressing things on the to-do list. You’ll find too as an Indie Author with a “day job” sometimes you just have to prioritise things and sometimes things slide. I’ve put the link to the Amazon version above which is a title for purchase, however, I think I got the book for free from Smashwords directly.
(LINK TO FREE VERSION HERE)
- Secrets to EBook Publishing Success by Mark Coker (LINK $0.00)
This title is basically a book of tips that have worked for other independent authors. It’s designed to help you, whether or not you use Smashwords, to increase distribution and readership. It also provides context for why these tips help, allowing you to better understand the market and your place in it.
(LINK TO SMASHWORDS VERSION HERE)
(Note these are not pirated copies. Coker offers them for free from his own marketplace)
- Book Marketing is Dead by Derek Murphy (LINK $0.91 AUD)
This book helps you set your book up for success in today’s market. The name is a bit of a misnomer, because book marketing is definitely not dead, but what has worked for marketing executives for several decades no longer works. Murphy explains why he feels the “here’s my product, buy my product” approach isn’t as effective as it once was, and that consumers are hyper aware of when someone is trying to sell them something. There were a lot of useful points in this book.
(LINK TO FREE VERSION ON AUTHOR’S WEBSITE)
- Cover Design Secrets by Derek Murphy (LINK $2.99 AUD)
This book is a must read if you are planning on creating your own covers (i.e. not purchasing or out-sourcing cover designs). The saying may be “don’t judge a book by its cover”, but people WILL judge your book, and their first judgement will come from the cover. If your cover doesn’t entice a reader, or doesn’t accurately portray your genre, you are going to miss readers. Murphy gives tips on how to create professional covers on a shoestring budget.
- Start Marketing Your Book: Best Practices & Core Principles for Authors Selling Books Online by Ella Barnard (LINK $3.93 AUD)
Barnard’s podcast was one of the first indie resources I discovered when I began looking for ways to improve my success when I decided to publish Independently. When I’d saved up some money, I bought a selection of books including Barnard’s from Amazon. Quite a few of them focused on the craft of writing, but a number were on Indie Publishing. Marketing is something that doesn’t come natural to me and Barnard writes clearly and concisely, in a step by step manner, making it easy for even an unexperienced writer get off on the right foot.
- Build Your Author Website: Everything You Need To Create A Website That Sells More Books by Ella Barnard & Stacy Sowers (LINK $3.99 AUD)
I recently discovered that even if you are planning on being traditionally published you need a professional looking website. Why? Because agents and potential publishers will google you if they like your query. As an Indie Author your website is important, not only because it gives you more perceived credibility as an author, but it can work as a funnel for your readers to find out more about you, your work, and host any other online activities like your blog. On my own website I have several sections for classes I offer, these Author Tips articles, my Blog, and other projects. Website building is easy, and this book will help you, especially if you’ve never created a webpage before.
- Done in Three Months Workbook: Step-By-Step Instructions for Writing & Publishing Your Book in 3 Months by Ella Barnard (LINK $3.45 AUD)
I will recommend this book even though the formula doesn’t exactly work for me. There’s a few reasons why the formula doesn’t work for me, but it’s still a useful read. I still had take aways from her suggestions and there were things I implemented in my own schedule to help me write faster, better, and get books out quicker. While I’m not quite working to her three month (start to publish) schedule she has helped me go from one book in two years to having released two books so far this year, with a third hopefully out at the end of the month, and two more by Christmas.
- Show Don’t Tell: How To Write Vivid Description, Handle Back Story, and Describe Your Characters’ Emotions by Sandra Gerth (LINK $0.69 AUD)
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a writing teacher say, “show don’t tell”, but they often haven’t explained themselves very well afterwards when they tried to make us understand what they meant. I believe a past editor recommended this book for me and I found it incredibly useful to improve my writing.
- How to Write, Format, Publish and Promote Your Book by Derek Murphy
I believe this book is only available through the author’s website (I couldn’t find it on Amazon). As the title indicates this book gives advice on the Indie publishing process from start to finish. Great for new authors.
- The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi (LINK $5.76 AUD)
This book will help you improve your writing. Like Show Don’t Tell it was recommended to me by an editor, and it is the SINGLE BEST purchase I have made regarding “work” books. You can have the prettiest cover in your genre. You can have a professional website. You can spend a ton on advertising. But if your writing isn’t quality you aren’t going to get far. Do you need to be the best writer on the planet? No. But you do need to write material the reader finds engaging, that hooks them along until the last page. If you can’t entertain a reader, they aren’t going to buy more than the book they “tried” you on. In fact, this book was so useful to me I have a kindle copy and a paperback copy. I find the paperback useful to have sitting next to me when I’m stuck for a word/behaviour, and during the editing process.
So, these are my top ten book recommendations. I’m working on other lists for you (Top 10 Podcasts for Indie Authors, etc). I hope these are as helpful to you as they were for me. I know beginning your journey is daunting and if you’re anything like me you’re probably worried you’ll miss something important. These books helped give me confidence and quite a few of them can be used as step by step guides or checklists.