Zoë Landale

Writer & Indie Publisher

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Indie publishing: My magic’s getting muddled

Magic is where you find it, in the garden, on the water, or in a book.

Fragrant rugosas

I’m organized, I thought. I can do this thing. So I made a nice little table of things to be done for self-publishing–that’s what I was calling it back in April. I hadn’t yet graduated to the much adventurous phrase, indie publishing. And I took copies of my careful table to a Muddy Lotus meeting, my writing buddies here on the island and those who were interested in the concept said, Oh nice. But I have been reminded of that song, There’s a hole in the bucket dear Eliza, dear Eliza, quite often since then. One thing depends on another.

At first I was going to learn coding for e-books. I bought a book on it. I even read the first seven pages of it. I can do this? I suppose anyone can follow instructions. But after the book had put me to sleep far more effectively than a cup of chamomile tea, I thought no. That way madness lies. I will PAY someone to code my YA book for me. There are some things it is genuinely worth shelling out money for. At a certain point, I say to myself, I could be writing instead of dicking around. Or I could sweep the floor, take the dog for a walk, do my stretches or five million useful things that I can do quite competently.

Okay, so for coding, my friend Joy Theierry Llewellyn recommended M.A. Demers .She coded four of Joy’s husband’s books, Evan Llewellyn, for Amazon. They’ve sold well and the coding has been problem-free. Great. I contacted Michelle. Yes, she would code my book. She needed a cover first.

Now this was a bit more problematic. I am a snob par excellence when it comes to art. That’s what comes of having an art historian for a dad and being taken around as a child to the openings of all his artist friends. By this point I had listened to enough podcasts that I understood you can’t just get any old artist in, however excellent that individual might be in their discipline. No, this individual must specialize in e-book covers. These have quite a different requirement than even hard copy books. Doubt me?

Hah. I looked through Goodreads and found hot YA books. I leafed through Amazon and did the same. I went and looked at the websites of YA writers who are working in fantasy, magic, what have you, people whose work I admire.

A writer who wants to sell e-books has to have a cover that is appealing in a thumb-nail size. It’s no good to have a ten word title. No one can read it when it’s that small. The graphic has to be compelling. If the writer is working a series, the series titles should bear a family resemblance. Look at indie writer Mark Dawson’s titles for some covers that are a) decent in the art department and b) sell very well indeed.

So okay, I needed an e-book artist. Well, that search is still in progress. I have found a few people I’d like to talk further with. No, I lie. I like the work of the most expensive artist the best. I really like it. But what stopped me from further correspondence was the feverish realization I need blurbs for the cover. Yes! I would ask all kinds of writers whose work I like much indeed to ready my unpublished novel and say magnificent things about it. It would be awesome. Doesn’t everyone enjoy making cold calls? The worst that would happen is I’d never hear from these writers. In the best case scenario, they’d say hmm, who is this bold individual accosting me? And they would query Mr Google.

There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Eliza. . .

Oops. I had let my website slide. First of all I had one that ended up being taken over by Russians who wanted 1,500. U.S to get my domain name back. The content all disappeared, of course. This is not a joke. It happened. And then I had a website that a friend hosted, bless his heart, being supportive of a writer, and it got taken down by malware. What happened to the backup copies? Well, funny thing that. They disappeared as well. So after having had quite a decent site for years, I had nothing. I left it. Websites and moi, perhaps this was not a marriage made in heaven. I didn’t get readings from my website and I didn’t sell books. What was the point?

But wake up little Snoozy, if you want lovely strangers to blurb you, they need to find enough about you to make it seem like you are reputable, industrious and possibly worthwhile to spend a bit of time with. In other words, you need a website. Even if I actually detest making websites and takes me forever and a day. They are much more expensive to have done than coding is. And I need to save my shekels for a terrific cover. I’ve certainly had friends say, Oh my website designer is wonderful. I nod. There are indeed many author websites out there that are wonderful. I’ve looked at a number of them. I note that that black is no longer the flavour du jour. Bright and crisp are much more trendy. And red. I like red, as all my friends can attest. But a person doesn’t want too much of it (I’ve tried) as it will vibrate you right off the page. So finally finally, I have a website and can get in my Search and Rescue buddy who does this for a living to come and check it my site, optimize it for Mr Google and and whatever other tech magic he performs. Take heart, dear Eliza!