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?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm sure it took a lot more than putting together one's own book!

Tara Tyler said...

i would check on trying to be interviewed on a vlog show or local tv news show or magazine... couldnt hurt to ask!

Stina said...

It's hard enough self publishing a book. It's a bigger challenge to do what you did, Nick. Congrats! And thanks for the great post. :D

Annalisa Crawford said...

I'd assumed it would have taken a lot of work, but 2 hours just to get the order right! I've been reading some of the stories - it's a great collection, and I hope it helps :-)

DRC said...

I remember my lounge floor being covered with post-it notes when I was trying to interweave four stories together. It was the easiest way to keep the timeline right.

Congrats on a job well done! Now, where this book about the sex lives of garden snails? :)

Susan Oloier said...

You're such an awesome dad and an inspiring person. I'm sorry I was out of blogging when you were putting together the anthology. I can truly relate to your advocacy--something that is huge part of my life, as well. I am beyond proud of you!

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Nick, this is awesome ... not only that you did what you did, but you told us exactly how. What a resource this post is. Thank you.

Kathy M.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nick .. well if you do write about the sex life of snails - you are in good company ... Darwin and his worms?

That seemed 'so easy' .. all I can say is congratulations on the hard work ... I guess the snow is holding up my hard copies - yes I bought more than one!

You've really achieved so much in such a short space of time ...

Yes - to raising more funds ... I'll have a think - cheers for now ... we're having mini snowstorms at the moment!! Cheers Hilary

shelly said...

I got my copy of your book.

Hugs and chocolate,

Found you thru Indie Life.

Unknown said...

The result is great! And you don't have to be modest!

Suzanne Furness said...

It's interesting to hear more about how you went about producing the anthology. I'm halfway through reading it, there are some great stories.

Tina said...

Wow, that sounds like quite the undertaking! Congrats. I hope you raise enough money for your boy. I'm going to buy my copy now.

Tina @ Life is Good
Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
@TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

Michelle Wallace said...

Thanks for sharing this amazing journey. You made it sound so straightforward. But I doubt it's as easy as it sounds.
I haven't bought my copy yet. *sighs*
I have a love-hate relationship with Amazon. But that's another story for another time.

Nick Wilford said...

Alex - Well, it didn't have the endless editing, rewriting, hair tearing out etc... ;)

Tara - Thanks for the tips. I was on the front page of my local paper today, about my real world launch on Saturday, so that was good!

Stina - Thanks! It was a fun challenge.

Annalisa - I'm so happy with how it turned out, I'm going to do it again next year!

DRC - I don't use a lot of notes for actual writing, but I probably should.

Is it snails that change gender at will? Oysters, I think... to reproduce on their own... fascinating!

Susan - Aww, thanks! Andrew's journey has been ongoing for 18 years and he's just getting started in a way. I just hope the book helps.

Kathy - Thanks! Hope it helps someone thinking of doing the same thing.

Hilary - The snow is horrendous! Thanks for ordering a bunch of copies though - you're a star. :)

Shelly - Thank you! Hope you enjoy.

Adriana - Thanks! It's great because of people like you. :)

Suzanne - Self-publishing is a great avenue for fundraising so I hope it helps someone. Thanks!

Tina - Thanks! Hope so too. :)

Michelle - The formatting was the hardest, I kept endlessly uploading new versions. It's good to learn though.

Jemi Fraser said...

You did an amazing job of it! I think deciding on the order would be tricky, but fun - nice to collect by themes/styles... I've picked up my copy and I hope you sell tons!

Elise Fallson said...

Bravo on all the hard work you put into this and thanks for sharing the process with us. Oh, and I can totally picture a four-year-old giggling while snatching your post its and running off with them, lol!

Anonymous said...

You've done a great job!

Luanne G. Smith said...

An amazing effort on your part. I was truly impressed. And now to find you were battling a four year old the whole time! I'm even more impressed. :))

Heather R. Holden said...

Wow, so much work went into putting this anthology together. Thanks for sharing what the process was like for you! :)

Tammy Theriault said...

Total kudos and props to anyone living the indie writer life!

Chuck said...

Nick I think you did a super job on this whole project from the beginning right through to this post on the ABC's of how to do it. This is truly a labor of love for Andrew. Best of luck reaching your goal soon. I have mentioned this to a couple friends of mine who work with special needs children and they are going to spread the word with their peers.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing how you put this together! :)

heidigarrett said...

Nick, It's a lovely book. The whole story from beginning to end is very inspiring. Thank you for sharing it with us. Heidi

J.L. Campbell said...

You make it sound easy, Nick, but I know it must have been a mammoth undertaking. I'm about to tackle the monster of formatting. We'll see how that goes.

Empty Nest Insider said...

My package was delivered today, and the book looks GREAT! I still can't believe you put this all together so quickly! Thanks again for all of your hard work. This is truly an amazing gift for Andrew, and I read his little sister's cute story too!


Sean McLachlan said...

I'm working on an anthology with fantasy/mystery writer A.J. Walker, so this was handy advice.

Shah Wharton said...

Thanks so much for this information. Great advice. :D X

Unknown said...

Bravo on all the hard work you put into this and thanks for sharing the process with us. Oh, and I can totally picture a four-year-old giggling while snatching your post its and running off with them, lol!

Self Book Publishing