It's taken a while, and I've been pulling my hair, but I have finally managed to publish two stories to Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.  This time I didn't go through my agent's office. I got some formatting help and then uploaded myself.  The stories are mine and so are the cover designs.  This is an achievement of sorts for someone as technically inept as I am.

 

I have a good mind to do more in the future.

 

The point is: if I can do it, so can you.

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Well done. I'm very happy with the job my formatters did for me, though I may try the next one myself. I'm computer literate enough, and the new conversion software seems easy enough, that I have a decent chance of doing it well. The upside now is I know I can look at it on my Kindle or Adobe's epub reader before submitting, so if I make a mess of it, I can still get a professional job done.
Perserverance wins! Way to stick with it, IJ.

Mind you, I have no plans to go it without my agent, who has been wonderful and who has helped me get contracts both here and in foreign countries.  That's still the most important objective.  But like most of us, I have books and stories lying about that haven't found the right publisher but are very dear to me.  My agent has tried to sell some of these to no avail.  I think there is a market for them, and the advent of electronic publishing has given me options I didn't have before.

The great advantage of self-publishing is that I'm in total control, that I don't have to wait a year or more to see the title go on sale, and that no one is going to take the book off the shelf after a month.  There are also disadvantages: no foreign sales or other remunerative sales like audio or film, no print reviews (they are getting scarce anyway), and no submissions to awards committees (hence no awards).

Ah, bless you, Toni. They are stories.
FYI, Ingrid, even for self-pubbed works, my agency will seek foreign rights and movie deals, etc., for 15%. Not sure what else they'll do for their cut. I'm planning to meet in person with them this Fall to find out. It's all new, so I don't think they know what exactly they're prepared to do to support the self-pubbed works of their clients. But I do think more agencies will follow suit.
Thanks, Eric.  Yes, I think many agencies are exploring new formats. My historical trilogy and 4 Akitada novels are self-published e-books under my agency's auspices.  I'm not sure if they would take on rights marketing for anything I put out all by myself.  We may find out.  Even that picture may depend on the success of the books.  We've seen what happened to completely self-published authors who became hugely successful and ended up signing million dollar contracts.

Nice work IJ.

 

Any tips or tricks a newb like me will need later this year?

Tim, I used Joe Konrath's guy for the formatting.  Nice people and reasonable.  Go to Joe Konrath's blog for the info.  He also recommends other services.

 

Many of us owe Joe our thanks for speaking up for traditionally published midlist authors and those who haven't managed to break into traditional publishing.  He has urged us to consider that we do have other options.  I, for one, did not know that and watched in despair as things seemed to go downhill more and more while my agent told me that she was running out of publishers who would consider my series.  Hope is hugely important to a working writer.

I'd imagine hope would be important when paychecks are 6 monthly royalty checks. I'm a big Konrath fan, both his writing and his blog. We bought a Kindle at roughly the same time as I was starting to research publishing. The first book recommended that both my wife and I loved led me to his site and had me sold on self-publishing.

 

I had been considering doing layout and covers myself as I have done newsletters for work using Adobe Publishing Suite. Do you think it was better going with the service, especially the time and frustration aspect?

Anything you do for the first time has certain frustrations.  I fiddled about with uploading for a good part of three days, inspite of the fact that the formatters gave me links.  I don't think it was worse than walking through parts of the process with someone who uploaded my other books, though.

Designing covers also had its frustrations.  I started last fall, because I have a better notion of what is appropriate for my books than the professional artists working for my publishers. At first I only worked with Photo Studio.  I now have Photoshop, but the degree of complexity has increased, and I struggle again.  You have to do this sort of thing fulltime to do it with any sort of ease.  Still, a simple cover is within my abilities, even if I keep forgetting things along the way.  :)

Congratulations, I.J. It's not easy but well worth the effort. After ten royalty publishers over the years I decided to go indie when my last publisher died without paying her writers for over a year. I love the freedom of designing my own books and formatting the way I like them. Also, not sharing the royalties. I'm surprised more writers haven't gone the indie route.

Thank you, Jean.  Wow!  Ten publishers!  Well, you know, writers keep hoping that their publishers will somehow make possible the break-through novel.  That doesn't happen without major publicity, and we've just always gone along, hoping that this time they might give it a push.  In my case, I never read my contracts. I trusted my agents.  Actually, I don't think it would have mattered.  If I had spoken up and suggested that 15 % was perhaps ridiculously low, I would have been told that it was standard and I couldn't expect anything better.  Now I know I can do better.  Very, very good luck to you.  I really think we deserve it by now.  :)

 

As for indie publishing:  Way back when, people used to call it vanity publishing.  The world has changed dramatically.  There is nothing vain about doing the best you can for your own books.

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