Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Work of Making an E-book and Being an Indie

There is so much work to do when you are writing and putting up e-books for sale. An amazing amount of work. A lot of my time has been writing new work--the novel BANISHED, and lately a couple of new short stories. I have at least three more paperback backlist titles I need to get scanned, corrected, and made into e-books.

Then there are free books to decide about for the Kindle program. Then there's letting all the sites know the books will be free and for how long. Then there are covers that need creating and often need changing. Then there's work trying to remember to include one's list of books in the e-book, the need to remember to put a link to the Kindle store. Then there's keeping tabs--trying to figure out what people seem to like to read the most (it appears the answer is Suspense). Keeping tabs on downloads, on sales, on rankings. Keeping up with one's blog and interviews for the blog. (That's why I'm here in the middle of the night.)

There's more to do. Now and then I spend time checking reviews, lamenting over the poor ones, elated over the better ones, wondering if there is some way something might be made better. Then there's making books available in trade paperback and making books available to libraries. These steps are much harder than making the original e-book.

It is never ending. It feels the way it did when I first began as a writer--working long days and nights, trying to figure what might work, what didn't. Writing like crazy and letting the creative force take me like I'm a puppet and the story the master. Eating, sleeping, thinking books, thinking ideas, thinking about creating. It's fabulous, the excitement is high, but I haven't worked this hard in years!

Why do you do it, you ask? Is it money? Is it fame? I'd be lying if I said no. I hate to let this secret out, but writers want to make a living and writers want to be recognized for the work they do.  But it is so much more than that. It's my creative self revved to highest gear. It's me being more writer than wife, mother, sister, friend. It's losing myself in the goal--which is to make something new that has never existed ever before and only I can make it. It may not be the most spectacular creation in the world, but it is mine, I did it all, and that's important. I take all the flack and I take all the credit. I wrote the words. I made the cover. I labored over the editing and proofing. I decided on how to describe it. I decided on a fair price. I promoted it. I watched it. I loved it and let it go.

Then it begins all over again. New idea. Writing late into the night. Reading it over and over, editing, changing, fiddling. Making a cover, finally. Formatting and uploading. Writing a description. Waiting to see if the fans I do have are able to find it, if they think it's what they might like to read. Does the book or story sit there like a dead fish or does it sell? Is there something wrong with the cover or the description? Should I redo everything and make another run at it?

I am describing events and actions that Indie writers are doing all over the globe. I don't think I'm unique. I am nothing more than a working writer. But where before I just wrote books and let agents and publishers handle what came after that, now I am involved in every phase of the creation and the publication. I am a one-woman band. I am a publishing empire.

I'm not saying I am going to complain about having the freedom and the power over my own creative output and career. But I can tell you one thing that is true as true can be--I work like a dog. And like a dog, I go forward on animal instinct. I'll keep doing it, keep putting my nose to the ground, keep following the scent, keep making the master, my reader, happy. Because I may be a dog and work like a dog, but I am a writer and the truth is writing never was a leisurely profession. I always worked hard.

I can do this. We can do this.

In fact, it is what we do our entire lives as writers. It may not sound glamorous, because it isn't. But it's how work gets done--we all just knuckle down and do it.


  1. It says it all. The creative act; that wonderful obsession able to burn a writer's soul. In every writer lies a Frankenstein; in love with conception itself, but never satisfied by the final product. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You're welcome, Jeffrey. There is a lot of noise around the internet about what poor quality some Indie writers are producing, how people are hauling out old manuscripts or throwing any old thing into an e-book. I thought it should be said that most Indie writers are like me--hardworking and serious. Determined to get things right. Hopeful to give only the best of ourselves and our craft. To do that takes a lot of effort--so much more than what goes into the throwing-it-against-the-e-book-wall to see if it sticks. Together we will all stifle the noise about the "junk" flooding the e-book world.

  3. Very interesting essay, Billie. I really enjoyed it, and will be taking some of this with me in my own journey.

  4. I couldn't agree with you more. I've never worked so hard, kept such long hours, or had a boss that was such a bitch as I do now. =)

    Also wanted to say that I'm impressed that you do your own covers! They're some of the best ones I've seen on indie books. Great work!

    1. India, I admit that I don't do all my covers. I have a very talented cover artist who has done six or seven of them. But I am working so fast and hard that I don't go to him for my short story e-books or collections of stories. For novels, he's the best. He did the covers on SCROLLS OF THE DEAD, LEGIONS OF THE DARK, RISE OF THE LEGEND, HUNTER OF THE DEAD, GOLD RUSH DREAM, UNIDENTIFIED, and BANISHED. I did the less beautiful, less skillful ones. :) But that still leaves quite a lot of work I've done to the best of my ability. It is true--our boss is a bitch and she is unrelenting!

  5. I certainly empathize with everything you say. However, I love it all...EXCEPT the marketing. I love working with artists and covers. I don't mind the proofing (though I'm not terribly good at it). I also think it is great to haul out the old manuscripts as well as reissuing earlier books as well as creating new work. But how to get noticed? I truly don't understand it. If anything keeps traditional publishing alive, it will be the marketing aspect.

  6. I love it, it's just a lot of work. Marketing is a conundrum. It is the least liked by any of us, I think. I do not now believe that social networks or Twitter is helpful as marketing. It is a drop in the ocean of the book world. The biggest help I've found is making a story or novel free on the KDP program and that gets new readers who buy my other works. The tiny amount of marketing legacy publishing does is so miniscule it is not worth saving them for it. They generally threw my books out there with distributors and if they didn't find an audience within a week or ten days, stores sent them back. A ridiculous way to expect books to sell. If that was the thing that was the only hope of keeping print publishing alive, they would certainly, most absolutely die.