Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Becoming A Hybrid Author, Part II

 by Sybil Johnson

Today I’m continuing my thoughts on becoming a hybrid author and what I learned along the way. If you didn’t see Part I, you can find it here.  

Sorry this post is so long. I tried to break it up into topics so it’s easier to read. I’m not fond of long blog posts myself. 

  •  Get font licenses where needed.
    I admit I didn’t think too much about needing licenses for fonts until I put out Brush Up On Murder. I’ve known people who design them so I’ve seen the amount of effort that goes into it. I even tried doing it once, for fun. That didn’t last long.

    If you use a font for your own personal use, you don’t need a license, but as soon as you start talking about publishing and advertising materials, you may need one. I’m talking about the fonts you use in the interior of the book as well as the cover.  That also includes fonts used on a website in banners across the top or on bookmarks. Let’s get real here, the chances of anyone coming after you are slim, but would you want someone to use something you’d created without looking into whether you need a license or not?

    If you use Atticus to design the interior of your book, they restrict the fonts you can use to only those that don’t require licenses. For covers, you need to ask whoever designed yours which fonts they used so you can look up whether or not you need a license. The license you’ll need will be the desktop license. Don’t think “I can use Times New Roman”. At $340, it’s one of the most expensive fonts to license. Most fonts are in the $30-$60 range for a lifetime license.

    To learn more about fonts and licensing:

  •  Decide on launch plans.
    This is another item that falls into the plan ahead category. Are you going to have an in-person launch party at a bookstore or other venue? Are you going to do a Facebook launch party? Are you going to do a blog tour? You need to think about these things and schedule them ahead of time. Some require more lead time than others. Because of a lot of things that were going on at the time, I decided not to do any bookstore or other in-person events. Or a Facebook event. I’ve done both in the past. I did do a blog tour through Escape With Dollycas. A lot of people don’t think blog tours are useful, but I’ve found them to be so with cozies.

  • To ARC or not to ARC.
    That is the question. If you do your print book through IngramSpark, you can also do print ARCs through them. That requires a different book cover. While I have print ARCs for all of my traditionally published books, I opted not to do one this time around. I don’t really see any use in them anymore.

    You still want to get reviews, though, so I still think it’s worthwhile to use something like NetGalley to get digital ARCs out to the reviewing public. NetGalley is a tad too expensive for me so I opted for BookSirens, which a fellow author had used. It’s $10 to upload the book once it’s accepted and $2 for everyone who reads it. If you supply an email list of your favorite reviewers, they don’t charge for those.
  • Pre-orders, anyone?
    There’s also the issue of pre-orders. Do you have a pre-order period or not? I chose to do that since it’s a new book in the series. I know authors who don’t. It’s easy to do through any of the places you’ll be selling it. You just specify when you’re uploading the book whether the book is available for pre-order.

    If I were re-issuing a book , though, because say I got my rights back, I wouldn’t bother. The books have been out in the world and reviews have happened or not already.

  •  More on print books.
    I mentioned in Part I that I chose to go through IngramSpark for the print version of my books instead of Amazon. The reason I went this route for the print version is, if you go through IngramSpark, it allows you to use their global distribution network. That means, it’ll appear on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and be available to libraries and bookstores to order. You can do print versions through BOTH Amazon and IngramSpark, if you want. Some authors do this. There are different book cover requirements between the two so this is where a professional designer is a big win. They’ll know what needs to be done. Atticus allows you to format interiors for both Amazon and IngramSpark, you just need to specify the size of the volume.

  • More on ebooks.
    As I mentioned in Part I, I chose to do my ebook versions directly through Amazon, B&N for Nook, and Kobo. The hardest part about this was setting up the accounts. Amazon was a breeze. The others were a bit more challenging. You can format your epub versions through Atticus. Use the same version for all three of the above. (Amazon doesn’t use .mobi files anymore but, if you really need one, you can create it via the free Kindle Previewer program.)

    There’s also SmashWords and you can also do an e version through IngramSpark.

  • Learn from those who came before you.
    Lots of authors have published their own books. You may know some of them. Ask them questions, but do some research first to make sure you know what to ask. If you’re a member of Sisters in Crime, there are a lot of webinars available on the national website. Courses like the Self-Publishing Formula also can be valuable. 
  • Set aside time to write while you’re figuring out this publishing thing.
    This is something I didn’t do very consistently. I didn’t completely give up on writing. I wrote blog posts, author essays for a couple issues of Mystery Readers Journal (one on crafts in mysteries and one on Southern California settings in mysteries), an essay on writing craft-based cozies for a book about writing cozies edited by Phyllis Betz (soon to be out) and a couple short stories. Both of those have been rejected multiple times now, but I persevere. I think I could have done more, but I don’t intend to beat myself up about it...too much.

  • Most important of all, though, be kind to yourself when things get overwhelming.

    That’s my journey into the indie publishing thing. I hope my musings have been helpful. There are so many topics I could cover. These are the things I found either surprising or most interesting.

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