Indie Author Day at the Portland Public Library
by Cindy Layton
I took a ride north to Portland on October 8th to attend the Portland Public Library sponsored “Indie Author Day,” a series of four presentations, featuring three local industry experts and a live-streamed broadcast of a nationally hosted Q&A session.
The morning and early afternoon sessions featured Jen Blood, a local author of the bestselling Erin Solomon Mysteries, Celia Johnson, co-founder and current creative director of Slice Magazine, and Kerry J Charles, author of The Dulcie Chambers Mysteries.
Each presenter covered a particular topic. Blood posed the question “Is Indie Right for You?” Johnson’s talk, “Behind the Book,” addressed the business of publishing, both traditional and indie. Charles’ gave us her behind the scenes take with “Confessions of an Indie Author.” However, there were commonly held themes among the speakers:
Produce a professional product. How to do that? By emulating the process that mainstream publishing uses to produce a book that gives no hint that it is “self-published.” Comprehensive editing and formatting are critical. Use proven software and other resources to create your book to avoid giving it that homemade appearance. Then, consider creating your own publishing house. Both Blood and Charles publish under their own imprints – Aiden Press for Blood, and Edmund + Octavia for Charles, thereby supplanting the self-publishing provider’s imprint.
Create a backlog of books before you even post Book One. Kerry Charles responded to the question of how to sell more books with the answer - Write more books! Her experience indicates fifty percent of readers of Book One will pay to read Book Two and so on. Having your next manuscript at least almost ready will continue to feed the beast. Waiting too long will risk your hard won readers drifting to a more prolific author.
Understand that independent authors and publishers are operating a business. This was the predominant and yet, often overlooked factor in determining your suitability and penchant for self-publishing. Any author considering taking this leap should spend the time necessary to familiarize themselves on all aspects of running a business. There are marketing, sales, data, financial and tax implications. This is so fundamental to the decision to self-publish that my next post will deal exclusively with this in mind.
Portland Public Library and other libraries around the country, each hosting their own local Indie Author Day events, then viewed the live streaming broadcast of a panel of industry experts including Jon Fine of Amazon and Robin Cutler of IngramSpark. You’ll find a link to the video here.