Review: Five Stars for Indie Publishing by April Hamilton

Are you considering self-publishing for your current work? Intimidated by the all the formatting you’ve heard about? Not sure the difference between vanity or subsidy publishing, or print on demand? Think all ebooks must be self-published?

Did I hear a yes?

Then I highly recommend you pick up April L. Hamilton’s The Indie Author Guide: Self-publishing Strategies Anyone Can Use (Writer’s Digest Books, 2010). With Hamilton’s help, you can self-publish, no matter what you know or don’t know now.

I began this book with some basic knowledge of indie publishing, and it still proved a great source of information. But Hamilton doesn’t take for granted the reader’s level of knowledge. Even if you’re a complete newbie, you’ll feel ready for the challenge with this book in hand.

You’ll find detailed, step-by-step instructions and overviews of your choices for every step in the process of self-publishing. She even lets you know when you might want to consider hiring someone to do some of the work and how you’d go about doing that.

A nice touch was the brief history of the publishing industry in the introduction. I got a new perspective on the current state of publishing when I learned that bookstores wouldn’t carry the paperback for over a decade after it was first introduced! (Sound familiar?)

Hamilton makes perhaps the most important point of the book early on (don’t skip the introduction):

An indie author becomes a publisher.

Seems obvious. But this simple fact is missed by many who consider or decide to go indie, which affects authors’ expectations when they dive into the process. If you have not yet wrapped your head around this concept, you certainly will have embraced it by the time you finish this book.

Hamilton covers branding and domains, rights and royalties, book cover design, and describes various publishing options. Interestingly, she includes vanity and subsidy publishing, print service providers, and print on demand (POD). But I was left wondering where providers like Smashwords fell among these.

If you’re intimidated by authors’ traumatic stories of formatting their manuscript for uploading as an ebook, not to worry. Hamilton spends two chapters on formatting for POD and for ebooks.

The most valuable chapters of this book, in my opinion, are the chapters on author platform and promotion. What I found helpful was not only her overview of my options in creating my platform or promoting a book, she outlines the skills I’ll need. In the chapter on promotion, she rates each tactic by how much time, money, skills, and confidence are necessary. She also discusses blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon extensively.

I was glad to see Hamilton touch on editing and revising. Although not technically part of the publishing process, the quality of editing I’ve seen in self-published manuscripts is a concern of mine, as you might have read last week.

Also helpful, Hamilton includes worksheets to assist you in deciding on your goals and best strategies for publishing your work.

Indie Publishing is a terrific overview of the process of self-publishing, and gives enough information to make newbies feel confident in making decisions regarding their publishing choices. But it will be an invaluable addition to the collection of anyone considering self-publishing.


flickr credit: adactio

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