Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Five Things I've Learned Going Indie #publishing

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of scifi and the supernatural with a romantic soul. On the 1st of May, 2015, my main publisher closed, leaving my five titles homeless. This was the third publisher I'd lost in just over a year, and I really didn't want to go through it again. 

So I decided the time was right to go fully self published (although I still have one title with a publisher). I've been self publishing short stories for as long as I've been with small presses, and had just committed to publishing my first full length novel - Keir - which had been my debut but reverted to me early 2014 after losing that publisher too (no, I'm not a jinx!). Only time and the costs of cover art and editing had held me back from self publishing more.

My former publisher went out of his way to make the closure as painless as possible by allowing us to use the edited version of our books (the norm is that you get the rights back to your unedited MS and often with a clause that you can't use the edits provided by the publisher). We were also given the option to buy modified versions of our book covers (ie logos removed) at a much reduced cost compared to having to buy totally new covers. As it happened, I took the opportunity to change two of my covers and bought two others from the publisher. 

Which left me the task of minor edits to remove the publisher's info front and back of book and adding new info, reformatting and uploading all my books to a host of retailers, and the new artwork. I'm not going to go through all that process, but I will share five keys things I learned while doing it to save you some trouble. 

1. Previous reviews, especially Amazon. One thing that disheartened me was losing the precious few reviews I'd had, but someone told me these transfer over to the new edition. Well, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. There's something you can do about it though (but not for iTunes. Once those are gone, they're gone). If after republishing on Amazon they don't automatically transfer over, you can email Amazon and ask for them to be linked (include titles, new ASINs and your author name for good measure). In the case of my SciFi romance Keir - which had been off Amazon for nearly eighteen months AND had a name change - they requested the old ASIN number for the original release in order to find those reviews (if you don't have it, check out the 'other editions' of your book on Goodreads - it should be listed there). Within a few hours even those reviews were back (though Amazon do say allow five days). Surprisingly, B&N automatically linked all my old reviews to all my titles without any intervention from me, even the one that had had a title change! You can also get ebooks linked to the print books the same way.

2. Don't upload on a Friday. The book I uploaded on a Friday at D2D and Kobo still wasn't live by Monday, even though the books I uploaded Monday were live by Tuesday. I also had copyright issues with one of my titles, possibly because my publisher's print edition was still live (and I only suspect that because similar things happened to my fellow ex-Breathless authors). It was rejected twice with a request to confirm my rights and the dire threat of needing to do it within five days or it would be deleted. Eep! I emailed KDP several times, but didn't get a reply until the Monday. Fortunately by then a third attempt to upload the contested book resulted in it publishing (if this system is meant to prevent piracy, it's extremely flawed since simple persistence got the book up).

3. Have all your info to hand (blurb, cover, tags, categories, previous publication dates if applicable, pricing, etc), whatever digital formats you need, the Goodreads page open, and the dashboard for each retailer open. This means you can just copy and paste, or click and go pretty quickly. If you don't have your own ISBNs, do NOT use the free one issued by Smashwords or any other retailer. Those are specific to YOUR book on THAT retailer. For All Romance eBooks, they have their own 13 digit number system to use in place of an ISBN but you need to email them.

4. Do all your formatting and preparation beforehand. Depending on if you use software to prepare and/or convert your MS (like Scrivener or Calibre, which many authors swear by) or if like me, you just work with Word and use online conversion programs (or Word to make my pdf), be sure to have all versions ready to go. If you're new to the process and using Word, be sure to download and read the free Smashwords Style Guide. It looks long and complicated, but it takes you through step by step and can save you a lot of trouble.

5. Be strong! While not without its issues, hiccups and glitches, and being time consuming even when things run smooth, at the end of the day you have full creative control of your work, the option to play with pricing, categories and tags, and almost instantaneous sales data to show you if something is working particularly well. You can also instantly update your work, change around your back matter with things like traceable smart URLs to see what readers prefer to click, and keeping any sales links inside the book up to date. It's worth it!

Do you have any tips to share on the process?


After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 22 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Broad Universe, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include YA and adult stories crossing a multitude of subgenres from scifi to the paranormal, often with romance, and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), the EPIC eBook awards, and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).

You can stalk her at her website, or at her blog, but without doubt her favorite place to hang around and chat is on Twitter as @pippajaygreen.

Blogs –
Adventures in Scifi - http://www.pippajay.blogspot.co.uk
Spacefreighters Lounge - http://www.spacefreighters.blogspot.com

A SciFi Romance Novella
Goodreads | Available from...
Amazon | All Romance eBooks
B&N | Kobo | iTunes | Scribd
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She can kill with a kiss. But can assassin Tyree also heal one man’s grief, and bring peace to a galaxy threatened by war?

For Tyree of the Su, being an assassin isn’t simply something she was trained for. It’s the sole reason for her existence. A genetically enhanced clone—one of many in Refuge—she’s about to learn her secluded lifestyle, and that of all her kind, is under threat by a race capable of neutralizing their special talents to leave them defenseless.

For Zander D’joren, being a diplomat has not only cost him his appearance, but also the love of his life. Scarred, grieving, he must nonetheless continue in his role as co-delegate to the fearsome Tier-vane or risk a conflict that could only end one way.

Now both of them need to keep each other alive and maintain a perilous deception long enough to renegotiate the treaty with the Tier-vane, or throw their people into a war that could wipe out Terrans and Inc-Su alike. But there’s more at stake than humanity, whether true or modified. Can the love growing between them save them both? Or merely hasten their destruction?


  1. It's not so much a tip as a comment. I love getting paid every month. lol

    1. Lol, yup, monthly is good. Makes it easier to budget and plan out expenses like editing and artwork and such.


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