Older indie authors – who are they? I’m not necessarily thinking of ‘over 60s’, although some of them very well may be, but self-published authors who have been around for eight or more years. That includes me, of course.
And I’m still an insecure writer, and this is my post for the Insecure Writers Support Group this month. It was prompted something that I wrote in a reply on a Goodreads comment, aiming to help someone pass a free kindle copy of their book to review.
In giving some suggestions for things I’d learnt from year 1, I wondered whether newer authors, using different systems, are working in entirely different ways from me.
What this older indie author does
I know there are loads of specialist software around these days. When I started there was wordprocessing and Scrivener. I gathered it was more difficult to format an ebook with Scrivener, so I stuck with Word, which is easy, if you use Styles for formatting.
When I switched to using a Mac, a few wrinkles turned up, mainly because Mac’s translation into a Word document is not perfect. Well, it is on the face of it, but anything Word doesn’t understand it marks with invisible code, and that’s what upsets the transformation into a ebook file. I now transfer the edited file by USB onto my old laptop to reformat in Word before uploading.
Getting your own kindle/epub copy
When you load up a manuscript on Kindle, it formats it for ebook, then asks you to check thoroughly. I check it on screen using their previewer – usually in a kindle version I don’t have, since there are so many now. I also download the file, which I can read on my own kindle, and on the kindle app. So I get the best possible chance of finding anything that’s wrong with it.
This is what I discovered when I was replying to that Goodreads person. They didn’t know they could download a copy of their kindle book. It’s there just as in the set-up when you’ve finally published it. Download it for ‘checking’ – but then you can email copies to whoever you want. It’s your file.
This is even easier if you use Smashwords, by the way. The Smashwords system (sending on to Apple, B&N & Nook) does require you to have things that meet those companies’ standards too, so read the instructions, and download the free Style Guide – full of useful tips for any ebook publisher. Of course, you should also check the free IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond!
I might use Scrivener or one of those. Up until a week ago I didn’t think writing software would help me much, since I keep a separate spreadsheet with all my characters (habits and backstory), planets, inventions, etc in it. I’m not the greatest person to outline, but I do make five line outlines for new books (situation, what changes, what goes wrong, what goes even worse, and how they end up) at the start, plus any other notes on things I want to include or avoid.
What I had to do when editing my latest book was to rearrange scenes in chapters, take some out completely but still get certain important plot points into the rest. I gather writing software makes it easier to do that. In erm…ten books, it’s the first time I’ve had to do this, so I’m not completely convinced I should do each book in Scrivener from scratch. I expect if you don’t do it from scratch it doesnt really help. But I’d be interested in your view.
Are apps any good? Are there things I should be doing that I have no idea about? Is publishing your ebook as simple as I think it is?
What do you use?
What wouldn’t you be without?
Do you think things have changed since you published your first ebook?
And when you’ve commented, don’t forget to visit our hosts for this month and some of the other lovely Insecure Writers.
And I’ll just leave you with this tweet I saw from the fantastic author Elly Griffiths, who must have about twenty top-selling books out by now. Looks like insecurity never goes away!
Just finished #Tombland by CJ Sansom and there are 2 options: 1. Despair because it’s so good 2. Rejoice because it’s so good and tell everyone. I’m going for option 2
— Elly Griffiths (@ellygriffiths) November 3, 2018