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Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Me, Myself, and I" or "Fully Staffed, Indie Style"

I decided to become an independent author when I realized I was a "Type A" personality in a "Type B" industry.

Type A personalities (for those whipper-snappers who were just being born when the phrase was coming of age) are characterized by a "Let's get this done NOW" attitude. Type B folks, however, are markedly more mellow with a "Chill dude. It'll get done" world view. (Don't know which one you are? Take a test here.) Industries embody these traits, too. Think 'high tech' versus 'government.' Hmm, better make that 'indie' versus 'traditional' publishing.

Okay, so I'm genetically wired to jump into the deep end. I'm not good at waiting for something to happen, like waiting for a response from an agent or publisher (which can take months! Really?). I'll bet if I were to do a survey, I'd find that the world of indie authors is heavily populated with Type A's and traditionally published authors as Type B.

But it takes more than genes or impatience to make an indie. It takes mad skills . . .and I'm not just talking about writing . . . or marketing. In between the end zone dance of completing your final draft and collecting the cash from your first sale, there is a whole world of publishing skills an indie needs to become an expert in. One reason many people hesitate in becoming an independently published author is traditionally published authors have teams of people dedicated to bringing their work to life. See above where it says "impatient" and "take on more than they can handle"? Type A's believe in creating, or becoming, their own team. Type B's, however, may feel more comfortable working inside a pre-established structure.

Their team begins with agents who provide feedback and suggestions to tweak your work and performs the painstaking process of finding the right publisher. Inside that publisher, skill sets buzz like bees. Editors run the spectrum from line editors and grammar cops to developmental editors to sharpen characters and plots with precision. Valuable insight is gathered on what resonates with the reader and what doesn't. The manuscript is worked, vetted, and sculpted.

Interior designers are used to format the text and chapters of your books to enhance the overall reading experience. Their experience addresses whether the chapters should be numbered or a simple graphic should be used. What graphic would look good? How about a do-dad in between POV or scene shifts? What font looks best? What color paper? Next up are the experts on cover design. Not just front covers, back covers, too. French folds, anyone? Let's see what the designers and production folks say about feasibility on that, right after they run it by the budget guys. What about inside flap content? Do you want images here, too? No worries, photographers and artists will generate some ideas and the team will decide what to use based upon what marketing research says. Oh, right. Let's get our PR guys rolling to garner some early reviews and begin positioning the book in front of the book's target audience. Great! Ready to go? Just upload your epub, mobi, and correctly sized and formatted pdf to your carefully chosen distributor.

You get the idea.

Each task has a learning curve and requires hours, and sometimes weeks, of time. As I approach the launch date of my second novel, I marvel at all I've accomplished on my own and, being a perfectionist, sigh heavily at all I've could have done but didn't have the brainspace or time to do. Regardless of what type of personality I have, I am acutely aware that I am a mere human and there is only one of me.

Like any major corporation, the indie can outsource any one of the tasks. Hiring for each step is an expensive proposition but it doesn't eliminate key facts: An indie is CEO of their book. All decisions are the fault (or the triumph) of the CEO.

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So, I am President, Chairperson and CEO. EVP Marketing. Chief Business Officer. Chief Operating, Financial and any other Officer. Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. The Supreme Commander. Queen. Khaleesi.

. . . or simply indie author.