Hens Lay Eggs
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10 Self Publishing Terms All Indie Authors Need to Know
By Claire Jennison
Are you an author planning to self publish? Does some self publishing jargon confuse you? Does it feel like other indie authors know things you don’t? For example:
- What is an ARC?
- What does going “wide” mean?
- How is a hybrid author different from an indie author?
This blog answers these questions, and more. Here are 10 self-publishing terms all indie authors need to know.
The acronym ARC stands for advanced reader copy. This is exactly what its name implies: a copy of a book that is sent out to selected readers before publication. Often ARCs are sent as part of a blog tour (see below) in anticipation of early publicity and/or reviews. Some authors also have, or intentionally form, an ARC team. An ARC team is a group of dedicated readers (often from an author’s email list) who act as regular beta readers (see below) to catch any glaring issues within the book before publication.
2. Beta readers
Beta readers are usually unbiased readers who read books before they are published. Betas return feedback regarding any problems they may encounter, such as typos, glaring plot holes, etc., in much the same way as an ARC team. However, betas may read much earlier/rougher drafts than ARC readers, or read books as part of a one-off, informal arrangement. As betas usually aren’t as invested in the author, their feedback can be brutally honest, which some authors may prefer.
Impartial beta readers can be found using dedicated Facebook groups or the hashtag #betareaderswanted on Twitter. Some beta readers read books for free, or in exchange for their own books being read. Other beta readers may charge a fee for their time and feedback.
3. Blog tour
A blog tour is when an author arranges a collection of book bloggers to read their book and then feature it in their blogs. It is important to ensure a good match between the book bloggers and the book’s particular genre to minimize any potential problems (and possibly negative reviews). Blog tour organizers, already connected to a network of book bloggers, act as middlemen (or women) to arrange blog tours for authors. That service can take a lot of the stress out of the whole process. Sarah Hardy at Book on the Bright Side is a blog tour organizer, as are Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and Emma at Damp Pebbles Blog Tours.
The blurb is the sales copy or book description on the back cover of a book. This works in conjunction with the front cover to entice the reader to buy (or borrow) the book, so it’s important to get it right! Bryan Cohen is a blurb magician and his webinar “How to Write Better Book Descriptions to Sell More Books,” in conjunction with Reedsy, is a really helpful resource for perfecting blurbs.
A hybrid author is an author who chooses to self-publish their books as well as write while tied into a traditional publishing deal. Some authors have been traditionally published, then decide to cross over to self-publishing (often to retain full rights to their books, as well as enjoy a much higher percentage of the royalties). Other indie authors become so successful in their own right they are approached by publishers directly. Examples of hybrid authors include Sarah Painter (The Worried Writer), Libby Hawker, Mark Edwards, and Chris Simms.
Next in 10 self-publishing terms all indie authors need to know, is another acronym: KDP. This stands for Kindle Direct Publishing which is Amazon’s book publishing platform. Authors can choose to publish exclusively through Amazon or go wide (see below).
KU stands for Kindle Unlimited which is Amazon’s book and audiobook subscription service. Indie authors choosing to make their book available exclusively through KDP Select allow subscribed readers to borrow the book. Indie authors then earn money through the number of total pages their readers read (minus Amazon’s commission).
POD stands for print on demand. Once an indie author has uploaded their formatted print book file onto KDP or any POD service, however many books are ordered is exactly how many will be printed. The benefit of this is that stocks of printed books don’t need to be stored anywhere. Even if you are exclusive to KDP Select for your e-books, you can still sell your print books wide (see below).
Not to be confused with a blurb, a synopsis is a summary of everything that happens in a book without any descriptive embellishment. Traditional publishers often require a synopsis, along with the first three chapters or 50 pages of a novel, when an author submits their manuscript to be considered for a traditional publishing deal. However, indie authors may find writing a synopsis helps clarify the storyline either before or during penning their book. Another of Reedsy’s recent webinars “How to Structure a Novel Before You Write it” advocates this.
Going “wide” means making your digital and/or print book available for purchase from a range of online stores, not just Amazon. Some authors prefer going wide as it means they need not rely on Amazon for all their book sales. Again, it is the indie author’s choice. Indie author Joanna Penn outlines the pros and cons of this choice on her “Exclusivity vs Publishing Wide” podcast episode.
If you have found these 10 self-publishing terms all indie authors need to know useful, check out my related blogs at https://penningandplanning.com/blog/.
A-Z of Storytelling Techniques for Authors is available to buy or borrow now! Get it here.
When Holly invited me to write a post for her blog, I wondered what on earth could I say that you haven’t already heard or, for that matter, something I haven’t already said and/or written about. So I thought I’d just recap some of my most valuable writing advice. Here goes….
Read. Read extensively in your genre and out. Take note of phrases and descriptions that capture your imagination or make your heart sing and mind race. I’ve yet meet a writer who isn’t an avid reader!
Write. Doesn’t matter if it’s daily, weekly, or 2-3 days a month, just make time to write consistently. Don’t worry if it’s dribble to begin with, just write. Whether you’re at a desk, the kitchen table, the library, or a coffee shop, get in the habit of sitting in your writing space and putting words on paper (or computer, or notebook, or iPad) …you get my drift. Forget the rules and write the book you want to read! You can always check for publisher guidelines and edit/revise your project to fit, but those first drafts can be whatever you want them to be.
Edit. Most projects need a minimum of three edits. Initial where you layer in descriptions, the five senses, etc. Second pass is where you check for plot holes and pacing. Third round is where you check for grammar, punctuation, etc. Make sure you take at least two weeks to a month between edits! If you don’t, chances are you’ll miss mistakes that could cost you a contract or precious time in edits after the contract. While you’re letting one manuscript cool, start another! Keep several projects in the works at all times, so you don’t worry that one to death.
Query/Submit. At some point you’ve got to turn that baby loose. Even if your initial submission is to a critique partner or group, don’t let fear stop you from getting the feedback necessary to help you grow as a writer and produce the best work you can. Read the last two sentences above – they apply here, too. Keep writing while you wait to hear back from your submission.
Revise, Re-submit, Resell. This applies mostly to articles and essays, but sometimes you can even revise/rewrite a story and sell it elsewhere. Make sure you abide by any current or previous contract limitations. If someone doesn’t normally take reprints, be sure to let them know the extent of changes you’ve made that add a whole new twist to the version you’re querying about or submitting to them.
Promote. Okay you’ve sold a book or two or a dozen articles. There will be no (or very few) sales, reviews, or new opportunities if you don’t let people know! Set up a website, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon Author Page. Spend a few hours a week building your fan base and readership. When you do a book signing or speaking engagement, ask for the name and address (email, too) of everyone who buys a book! This is your readership. Ask to add them to your mailing/newsletter list. Don’t bombard them, but keep in touch on a regular basis, whether that is monthly, quarterly, or even annually.
These tips and hints apply to the craft of writing but here are a few more …
Keep good records. Writing is a business, and even unpublished authors can claim business expenses such as office supplies, ink, business cards, etc. Check with a CPA or tax preparer and don’t miss out on these valuable deductions especially when you begin to make money!
Take Care of Yourself. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball or hand grenade, and we have a hard time focusing on writing. Don’t worry about your career at this point. Take the time you need to recover and/or regroup and start over. Real writers never quit. We may take an extended leave of absence, but, at some point, we always return to our passion.
And last but certainly not least …
Don’t Quit! Writing is a gift and a talent given to you by God. Don’t hide your gift or bury your talent.
Author bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the co-founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction, as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” Sign up to receive Pam’s newsletter and get a FREE short story!
Amazon Author Page:
Circle of Fate by Pamela S. Thibodeaux
Set at the tail end of the Vietnam War era, Circles of Fate takes the reader from Fort Benning, Georgia to Thibodaux, Louisiana. A romantic saga, this gripping novel covers nearly twenty years in the lives of Shaunna Chatman and Todd Jameson. Constantly thrown together and torn apart by fate, the two are repeatedly forced to choose between love and duty, right and wrong, standing on faith or succumbing to the world’s viewpoints on life, love, marriage and fidelity. With intriguing twists and turns, fate brings together a cast of characters whose lives will forever be entwined. Through it all is the hand of God as He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
Looking for a place to swap blogs? Holly Bargo at Hen House Publishing is happy to reciprocate Blog Swaps in 2019.
For more information: