Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Indie Life - Tips on Self-Publishing an Anthology
It's time for my second installment in the monthly Indie Life bloghop hosted by The Indelibles. Similar to the IWSG (which I'm joining soon, I promise!), this is a chance for indie authors to post about indie life, find each other, offer support, encouragement, news, helpful hints, and anything else that makes life as an indie author a little easier.
What is Indie Life?
How: Sign up on the Linky at the bottom of this page
When: Post on the second Wednesday of the month
What: Write anything indie related: something that will inspire or help a fellow indie; something that celebrates a release or a milestone; something that talks about the ups and downs, joys and heartaches of Being Indie.
Grab: The banner above to include in your posts!
Last month, I talked a little about the myriad of opportunities available with self-publishing to release not just novels, but collections, anthologies, treatises on the sex life of garden snails (maybe). It's really ours to do with as we see fit. Since that time, I've released my fundraising anthology of contributions from my awesome fellow bloggers, to go towards the fund to send my stepson to a specialist college. The whole process was easy and straightforward (formatting notwithstanding), and it would be cool if this sort of thing happened more often, not least because I've ended up with such an excellent, inspring book that I'm proud to put my name to. So I thought I would put together a few pointers on how to undertake such an endeavour. (NB - this is just how I went about it, so this is merely a set of guidelines. You could ask for contributions privately via email, but I decided to host a blogfest to get more interest and as many people involved as possible.)
At the beginning of January, I announced my blogfest with a date of 4th-5th February and posted a linky list for people to sign up. I thought it prudent to allow around a month for people to prepare, and this was justified as many initially commented saying they had no idea what they were going to write!
On the 4th and 5th of Feb, I posted my own contribution and began making my way through the list to read and thank all other contributors. I also found myself fielding an increasing number of email inquiries on various topics, including those who had missed sign-ups and still wanted to take part.
On Wednesday the 6th, I pruned non-contributors from the list and at this time I began to look into the issue of formatting. I'd like to thank Indie Life host Susan Kaye Quinn for her informative Self-Pubbing Basics series which starts here; through her I discovered the Smashwords Style Guide which told me everything I needed to know on formatting. That weekend, I started to transfer each story from its blog to an individual Word document.
As people were still interested in taking part, I set a deadline of Sunday 17th February for any further entries. Once everything was in and I had all my documents formatted, I then had to decide on a running order for entries (seventy in total). At first this task seemed daunting and unwieldy, but it turned out to be fun! There are different ways you could approach this, obviously depending on the content you have. I started by categorising the entries. My anthology is a mix of flash fiction, true stories, and poetry. I found I had slightly more fiction than real life, and seven or eight poems.
I got a pad of post it notes and wrote the title and author of each piece on them. I was pretty familiar with the contents of each through proofreading, but in a few cases I wrote a couple of key words for reference. I then stuck all the post its to the top of my kitchen table in a square, and simply shuffled them about until I was happy with the order. If you're doing this, allow a bit of time for it. It ended up taking me two hours, but then I had a four-year-old around who kept snatching them off the table, until I gave her and her sister the rest of the pad and let them organise their own game!
After this I compiled all the entries into one "master" document, which would later be converted into three versions for Amazon, Smashwords and CreateSpace. (This is important as you need to make sure any links are only appropriate to that retailer: they are strict about this, and obviously the paperback version had all links stripped out.)
At the same time, I sent out emails to all the authors asking for a short bio to attach to the end of their piece. I added these bios in italics to differentiate from the main text. Most responded quickly, but don't be shy about sending the odd reminder, as writers tend to be very busy. I also put up another linky list for anyone to help with the launch on the 4th of March.
There is also the issue of copyright to consider. Thanks to Kittie Howard for her pertinent advice on this matter. I included an appendix at the front of the book assigning rights to the author of each piece, along with any pictures. Before publication I emailed everyone again asking if they had any objections to me using their story. (No one did!)
So that's about it... it's out there now which leaves the matter of promotion. *cough* please click the image at the top of my sidebar *splutter* I've been fortunate enough to have some great word of mouth from the contributors and others, but I'm wondering what other avenues to pursue. Anyone know of any blogs that would review an anthology?