Heather, welcome! Please tell us something about yourself, including your background, some family details, your interests and hobbies, where you live.
I grew up in a very close family in the West Virginia mountains. I recently moved back to the family home here. I homeschool two of my three children, so I don’t really have a lot of hobbies, but I do enjoy working in flowerbeds and shooting (that seems incongruous somehow! 😉 ). I have wonderful in-laws in upstate New York, and in-law relations is a recurring theme in my books.
Why did you write this book?
Since I decided to indie (independently) publish my debut novel in 2013, I’ve talked to so many authors who are considering the same route. There are several questions I run into frequently, and I thought it would be handy to write a simple guidebook for those pondering indie publishing. This is more of a “newbie” guide, but it does include advice seasoned indies can take away, too, such as tips on marketing, etc.
What has surprised you the most about indie publishing?
I’m four books into it (one of those was my great-aunt’s memoirs), and every book, I learn something new. For instance, marketing is an ever-shifting landscape. But the most surprising thing…I guess it’s the sense of freedom I finally feel. Before, I was tied to my e-mail, waiting for word from my agents on how the publishers responded to my submission (and many times I was waiting over a year for that word). Now, I can move forward and get my books out to the readers I have. It’s like a tremendous burden has finally lifted.
What’s the one best piece of advice from your book?
The best advice I could ever offer is don’t rush the process. Once you decide to indie publish, it’s easy to go gangbusters and forget to make sure your ducks are in a row, such as edits, cover art, formatting, and marketing. Indie Publishing Handbook: Four Key Elements for the Self-Publisher covers each of these steps and offers advice on how to make sure your book is ready to roll.
What has being an indie author revealed to you about yourself?
I have always pushed very hard to get my books out, even before I was indie publishing. I knew I had to be my own biggest advocate, even when I had agents who believed in my works. Now that I’m indie publishing, it’s all on me. Sometimes I do get tired, but I also have the satisfaction of offering a finished product I oversaw, start to finish. I wouldn’t say I’m stubborn, but I am very goal-oriented and strong-willed. That’s something I already knew before indie publishing, though (and so does my family! LOL).
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What’s your hope for the future of indie publishing?
Oh wow, great question. I have been so pleased, just in the last year, to see reviewers willing to read indie books and to champion up-and-coming indie authors (thank you for being open to indies, Katherine!). I feel indies are reaching niches and genres readers are hungry for. I’ve also seen more CBA (Christian Book Association) contests open to qualified indies in the past year. I’m hoping the days of equating an indie book with poor quality are behind us. So many skilled authors have gone indie–many have even left traditional publishing to do so. My hope is that indie books will soon be carried in bookstores and libraries, offering a greater selection to readers.
How can readers be in touch with you and buy your book?
You can find my Indie Publishing Handbook: Four Key Elements for the Self-Publisher here.
Thanks for inviting me to visit, Katherine! And thank you again for supporting indie authors.
About this book: (from the author) Are you dreaming of your own career as an independent author and self-publisher?
This concise handbook covers the four key elements every self-publisher must oversee for successful book publication: (1) editing, (2) creating cover art and blurbs, (3) formatting and uploading books, and (4) marketing. Focused advice will help you maneuver these key elements, whether you outsource or learn to master them yourself.
You’ll also find a bonus section with practical tips from seasoned independent authors.
Indie Publishing Handbook: Four Key Elements for the Self-Publisher is your one-stop for basics on everything you need to get started and excel as an independent publisher.
About the author: HEATHER DAY GILBERT has independently published four books. Her debut novel, God’s Daughter, has remained on the Amazon Norse Bestseller list and Amazon Norse Top-Ranked list for over one year. Her contemporary mystery, Miranda Warning, is the successful start to the Murder in the Mountains series.
After words: I caught up with Heather again for one more question. Since it’s been making headlines, I wanted to get her thoughts on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited feature, which lets readers to pay a monthly fee (I believe it’s $9.99), which then allows them unlimited access to as many Kindle e-books as they can read. Here’s what Heather had to say:
“Kindle Unlimited is sort of a mixed bag for indie authors. For instance, let’s say I’m selling my Kindle book at $3.99. Usually with that, I keep 70% royalties, which works out to $2.73-ish. But when that same book is LOANED via Kindle Unlimited, I only receive whatever Amazon is paying ALL indies, so maybe $1.30.
What I’m hearing is that indie authors are simply writing shorter books they can price lower, since KU is only offering a lower payment anyway. But every author’s experience is different. Some love KU because they are making MORE per book than usual with it. Some love the added exposure. I tried branching into Nook and Kobo with my e-books, and it just didn’t garner as many sales as I was getting in KU loans, so I went back to Kindle Select (exclusively Kindle for e-books). I will probably change my strategy if I ever have a first-in-series book that goes permafree (permanently free), because THAT I will want to be free on as many platforms as possible.
Basically, when you go with Amazon, you understand there are perks for going with them exclusively, but they can also change things up any time they want. They did that not long ago with ACX (Audible–the audiobook branch of Amazon), when audiobooks that were priced at $17+ were suddenly being sold via Whispersync for $1.99. I still feel that is a huge loss to narrators and authors, but Amazon is trying to reach the widest audience possible with the ultra-low prices.
Because Amazon made it possible for me to BE an indie author, I try to adjust. But authors are definitely scrambling to determine if Kindle Unlimited is worth it for them.”
Friends, would love to hear from you. Is Kindle Unlimited something you would subscribe to? And have you read any good indie books you’d like to recommend? Oh, and Heather has generously offered a copy of her e-book to one commenter today–to keep or give to a writer in your life!