An indie approach to getting a book published

This was my indie approach to getting a particular book published. For the first book of my Gunners Trilogy, I had a specific goal: Get the book out there.

I wanted to get the story into the hands of readers. Until the first book is released and available, I can’t address marketing and sales in a serious way. Yes, I know there are some planning steps for marketing, but a book series with no actual books that someone can buy is not really something you can pitch. So I needed to get the first book out.

Less important: Make tons of money on the first book of the series.

Of course I wanted to make money on the book. But given that it’s the first book in the series, I didn't harbor delusions of grandeur. It was new; nobody knew about it. I was not expecting Stephen King to post a gushing endorsement of the story on Facebook, or to have it show up on the NYT best-seller list. I wasn’t waiting for publishers to fill my voicemail with requests for a meeting. (That said, if any of these things happen, I won’t complain!)

Publishing Platform. Given my main goal of getting the book out there, I settled on Amazon:

  • Publish the ebook version via Kindle Direct Publishing at a low price, and make it available via Kindle Unlimited.
  • Publish the paperback version via CreateSpace, also at a low price.

Making it available on Kindle Unlimited, at least for an initial 90 days, opens doors to a wider audience, and keeping the ebook price low (I opted for $2.99 as the initial ebook price) lowers the barriers for people who aren’t Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Pairing this with CreateSpace keeps everything clean and easy: It’s all on Amazon; no concerns about lining everything up, or managing distribution channels and so on. Moreover, the quality of POD via CreateSpace seems very good, to me.

I envisioned releasing a paperback edition as a way to serve a smaller audience of readers who prefer to read a physical book and are willing to spend the extra money for a print copy. It’s not a short book, so I opted for an initial print price of $16.95. This seems reasonable for a trade paperback, and it leaves enough room for me to sell it in local bookstores if I want, and still make a little bit of profit. But who knows? Maybe the print version will sell more copies than I expect.

Tools. Here are the basic applications / tools I used. I’ll go into these in detail in future posts.

  • MS Word — for writing. (See my notes on keeping it simple, in this post).
  • Calibre — for converting from WORD to .mobi (Kindle format) Also to convert to .epub for advance review readers who want that format and for an iBook release later on, if I decide to do that.
  • Kindle Direct Publishing — for distribution of the ebook.
  • CreateSpace — for printing / distribution of the print book.

I also use MailChimp to maintain an email list of advance review copy readers and for a general email list for news; and I use BookFunnel for distributing advance review copies.

Steps. Here’s the overview of my approach. I’ll discuss the tools and steps in detail, in later posts.

  • Write the book.
  • Edit the book. I hired an editor. Get the book completely done.
  • Prepare the cover art. I had an artist create the cover art.
  • Set up an ISBN for each format, in this case, two: one for the Kindle edition and one for the print edition.
  • Prep the WORD document for conversion to ebook.
  • Convert it to .mobi format.
  • Set up an account with Kindle Direct Publishing and set up the ebook (upload the cover art, text, etc.)
  • Set a publish date for the ebook version (allowing enough time for rounds of review/fixes on my part), and turn on advance ordering.
  • Download the ebook when it’s ready, check it, fix anything that’s wrong, and re-upload. Repeat until it’s ready for release.
  • Prep the WORD document for conversion to print book.
  • Save it as a PDF file.
  • Set up an account with CreateSpace and set up the print book (upload the cover art, interior PDF, etc.)
  • When it’s ready, order a proof copy. Review it, make changes as needed, and upload a new version. Repeat until it’s ready for release.
  • Approve it for release.
Gunners of the White Cliffs