Why Indie Authors Have to Stick Together

I’ve heard self-publishing “experts” say time and time again that no big difference exists between an author going the traditional route or the indie route.

Ahem — I beg to differ.

Therefore, here are the reasons why us indie authors have to stick together:

1) We have to pay for EVERYTHING.

Editors, designers, copyright filing, advertising, and yes, book tours.

2) And let’s just admit it. Major traditional publishers have one gargantuan advantage over us: connections.

Connections to major media outlets (like the New York Times and Entertainment Weekly), to librarians, to book store owners, to distributors, and to online influencers.

3) No one takes us seriously when we’re starting out.

4) Those dang literary pirates want to steal and sell our stuff!

5) We’re a bunch of anti-establishment rebels.

Of course, we take on this load because we have SO MUCH MORE CONTROL. Over everything.

  • Creativity
  • Legal rights
  • Marketing
  • Design
  • Presentation
  • Pricing

But man, for an indie author trying to make it, you guys know this is an uphill battle! I don’t care what anyone says, going indie is a tougher climb. And this, my friends, is why we all gotta stick together.

While you’re here, did you know I published my debut novel six months ago? “The Apollo Illusion” is a science fiction dystopia about a future society’s frightening overdependence on technology. Learn more by clicking here!

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Do You Need a Proofreader or Copyeditor?

Punctuation Mistake

What’s the difference between a proofreader and copyeditor? You’ve heard the terms, but which do you need?

I’ll admit, it can be quite confusing. And depending on your project, you may need both (gasp!).

The Proofreaders

These are the guys with the eagle eyes. The ones who will catch the missed periods or the typos where you meant to say, “and,” but really typed, “ad.”

Proofreaders scan your writing strictly for the purpose of making sure it’s flawless. They look for misspelled words, grammatical mistakes, tense agreement, typos, and so forth.

However, proofreaders do not edit for style or flow, and they will not make suggestions on how you can improve your writing.

The Copyeditors

Copyeditors do exactly as their title implies: edit copy. Proofreading may often be included in copyediting services, but that is not the copyeditor’s main job.

If you hire a copyeditor, he or she will look for structure, flow, style, and ways to improve your actual content. If your project is a whitepaper, the copyeditor may look for ways to simplify text or improve your marketing “hook.” If your project is a novel, the copyeditor may read for story arcs, dialogue, narration and voice.

Which should you hire: proofreader or copyeditor?

If you need someone to edit a 10- or 20-page report, or possibly even some website content, I might recommend hiring a copyeditor.

However, if you’re a self-published author, I suggest you invest in hiring BOTH. Why? The copyeditor will look for ways to improve your story, characters, plot line, narration, flow, voice, story arcs, etc. However, for a manuscript that’s 80,000 words long, you’ll want to hire a second pair of eagle eyes—a proofreader—to ensure your work is flawless before sending it out for the world to read.

Other than that, which type of editor you need really boils down to you:

  • Are you happy with the way your project sounds, but just need someone to scan it for mistakes? Hire a proofreader.
  • Do you need stylistic or structural help? Call a copyeditor.

What have been your experiences working with copyeditors and proofreaders? Do you have anything to add to this blog post?

Hi! I’m Shari Lopatin. I’m a professional writer, editor, journalist, and social media strategist with a decade of experience in media and communications. I live in Phoenix, Ariz. and blog about finding a literary agent, writing tips, social media or tech trends, and sometimes current events. Oh yeah, I also edit novels for self-published authors or writers needing help before querying literary agents. Are we friends yet on Facebook and Twitter?


Q&A: Jane Friedman, Former ‘Writer’s Digest’ Publisher, Tells All

I have a VERY special treat for you today. Jane Friedman, former publisher of “Writer’s Digest” and publishing industry expert, agreed to a Q&A for “Rogue Writer.”

Jane took time from her busy schedule to answer 10 questions, so that I may feed her expertise to you. Jane, thank you for your honesty, humility, and willingness to teach. SO, here it is:

Please welcome Jane Friedman, former publisher of "Writer's Digest" and publishing industry expert. Check out Jane's new ebook, "The Future of Publishing: Enigma Variations" (link at end of article).
1) SHARI: 
You’re only 34 (according to your blog), and you’re already the former publisher of Writer’s Digest and a visiting professor of e-media at the University of Cincinnati. How did you reach such success so early?
It’s not talent or smarts. The conclusion I’ve come to is that it has been about these 3 things:
1. Being extraordinarily focused and stable in my career direction. I stayed in one place for a long time (F+W Media, 12 years). I outlasted a lot of other people and gained more responsibility as the years passed. I focused on developing my skills in a very specific area, and I didn’t waste energy on anything but that one, single passion: publishing (or: writing/editing).
2. Being dedicated and consistent. This is nearly the same as No. 1, but relates to what I pushed out to the world, or my external-facing career. When I started a blog, it wasn’t immediately successful. But I stuck with it, and I improved my skills. Same with speaking at events, same with Facebook, same with Twitter, same with other stuff that isn’t yet fruitful. Not every effort can be a winning one, but most ventures require patience for them to pay off. Given that we live in an environment of instant gratification, people who can see things through are often the ones who get a return on their time and energy.
3. Being aware of trends & industry. I’ve always loved reading news and opinions about the publishing industry. I seek out stories about who’s succeeding, or who’s pushing the envelope. When you read trend stories year after year after year, even if you can’t articulate it, you’re learning something fundamental about how the industry operates, and where it’s going. You’re soaking up the DNA of the industry, the texture and context of every decision, success and failure.
There’s been a lot of growing interest in the self-publishing industry. Recently, the Huffington Post reported that eBook sales are up 116 percent, while paperback sales are down 31 percent. What’s your take on this trend?
It will only accelerate, and eventually most people will read e-books. Paper books won’t die, but they’ll become more like the vinyl record.
What are your TOP THREE pieces of advice for writers just starting in the self-marketing/self-publishing world?
1. You have to be focused like a laser beam on what your message is (or what you stand for) and who you’re trying to reach. Too many writers haven’t identified their genre or key readership, and that quickly leads to meaningless or wasted marketing and promotion efforts.
2. You have to be patient. I’ve had writers ask me, after 2 weeks of writing a blog, or after 1 month of participating on a community: Why am I not seeing results? Well, that’s because it takes time to build reputation, authority, and trust. It doesn’t happen overnight. Most people give up before their effort pays off.
3. You have to be service-oriented. No one cares that you’ve written and released a book. People want to know what’s in it for THEM. Always make that clear, and always be focused on serving and helping others. This attitude also helps you avoid you appearing like a smarmy shill for your work. Be a person, not a constant all-day marketer.
What about for writers choosing the more traditional route–through publishing houses? What’s your best advice (top three tips) for them?
Those other 3 tips still apply, but I can add these 2 tips as well.
1. Treat your agent and publisher as professional partners, but not as caretakers. They will not take care of you. They are too busy looking out for themselves. They’re treating it like a business, and you should too.
2. Be very clear on what your publisher is doing to market and promote your book. Get specifics, and be proactive in partnering with them. Don’t wait for them to come to you. They can help amplify your own marketing efforts.
What inspires YOU to write?
All the little things that keep me up at night. Memories and past experiences that I replay in my head, because they are still unresolved in my heart. The dilemmas that we face when we have to choose between 2 cherished values. How it is that we deeply hurt the people who most love and care for us.
Do you ever suffer burnout and/or Writer’s Block? If so, how do you combat it?
Not really. But if I’m feeling tired, uninspired, and listless, if I stay offline for 12-24 hours, and spend time with friends, that will do the trick.
Your site (JaneFriedman.com) says your award-winning blog, “There Are No Rules,” receives around 55,000 visits a month. How did you grow it to be so successful?
I’m very consistent. I’ve been around since April 2008, and I stay focused on writing and publishing topics, for an audience of writers. Word gets around when you do quality work, and I try to keep delivering day after day.
Tell me about a discouraging time in your professional life and how you overcame it (i.e. rejections from literary agents or magazines, not getting a job, no one giving you a chance, etc.).
The most discouraging time was when my insight and expertise on important issues were disregarded by my superiors, and I was asked to support and promote what I didn’t believe in. I never overcame it. So I left.
9. SHARI: 
What’s your favorite aspect of your work today?
I love developing content and curriculum—whether for Writer’s Digest (online and in print) or for my students, in the classroom. I love to help, teach, and serve. And I’m very lucky I can focus on that exclusively now.
10. SHARI:
Can you share a few recommendations of other experts in the writing and publishing industry, whom it might be beneficial to follow?
Yes, I highly recommend Christina Katz, Dan Blank, Guy Gonzalez, and Robert Brewer.
Jane recently released a new ebook, “The Future of Publishing: Enigma Variations.” It’s only $1.99 and “consists of 14 variations or brief insights on what the future of publishing holds.” When you have a moment, feel free to check it out!

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Barnes & Noble Welcomes Self-Published Writers? Yup!

For the first time ever, self-published authors may have a shot at placing their books on the shelves of Barnes and Noble–so to speak.

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This news, reported in a Feb. 24 article published by GalleyCat on Mediobistro.com, comes right as Borders announced it’s filing for bankruptcy. According to the article, Barnes and Noble opened its doors to writers using the PubIt! self-publishing program.

Just to make sure this was a legit report, I hopped onto Barnes and Noble’s corporate website. Sure enough, there sat the official press release, “More than 11,000 Independent Publishers and Self-Publishing Authors Bring Their Digital Works to Barnes & Noble’s PubIt!™ Publishing Platform.”

How does PubIt! work?

Personally, I’d never heard of PubIt! Therefore, I followed the link to this program from the Barnes and Noble press release. Here’s what I found:

  • PubIt! appears to be Barnes and Noble’s self-publishing platform for eBooks.
  • It launched four months ago, according to the press release.
  • The website for PubIt! states there is no cost to use the service.
  • According to the PubIt! service policies, “the publisher will set a List Price for each eBook between $0.99 and $199.99.”
  • It also appears, from the service policies, the publisher will be paid royalties off the List Price.
  • I personally found the site and platform easy to use, from my brief time poking around.

What does this mean for writers?

This is a huge paradigm shift for publishers and writers. Can lesser known, self-published authors now compete with major names such as Nora Roberts, Dan Brown and Sara Gruen (Water for Elephants)? Do publishing houses and literary agents hold the same weight as they used to? Or can any marketing-savvy writer now make his or her way into the world of publishing and take the literary audience by storm?

Here’s another scenario to consider: perhaps this is a way for giant, Barnes and Noble, to tap into the huge market of self-published writers. Is this just a ploy to make money, while the real edge still remains in the hands of major publishing houses?

Take a moment and contemplate. Then tell me: what do you think?