Friends, I'm doing something new today. My new friend, indie erotica writer Carla Croft, and I got on the topic of self-publishing the other day. Here is the resulting interview:
KC: Carla, your stories are scorching hot, uh, I mean, they're self-published. Have you ever submitted your work to a publisher?
CC: Why thank you Kyoko. It's always nice to know that your work has hit the spot!
Yes, I have submitted my work to a publisher. My first book Letters Around Midnight: 12 Confessional Style Stories was published by Andrews UK.
KC: What were the pros to working with a publishing house? What were the cons?
CC: The pros are definitely that they take the strain of publishing off you. Andrews formatted the book and have pushed it out to many different outlets. They also did the cover design. In my view having a publishing house behind you still gives you more veritas than being an indie author. The publishing house will also make sure that no one is plagiarising your work. There are a lot of pros to working with a PH.
The cons? For me, I like control. So the cons are giving up that control. I like to write it, I like to edit it, I like to proof read it, do the cover, do the design. It's all me. I don't want to come over like a control freak, but I have a certain image in my mind of how I want the book to be. Doing it myself also means that I can keep costs down. The only thing I shell out for at the moment is the cover image.
KC: What do you love about self-publishing? Is it a labour of love?
CC: It is a huge labour of love. Unless you've done it you don't appreciate how much work goes into it. But I enjoy everything about it. From the first moment the germ of an idea ferments into a story, to the pain of rewriting it time and again, to searching for a cover image, to the pushing of that edit button, to the looking at my sales figures every morning: it's all me. I have done that. I have created something from nothing. I love the whole process. I still get a thrill out of hitting that publish button. I do a happy dance around the room. It gives me such a high. And I learn a little with every book.
Believe it or not, I am the worst at starting things and not finishing them. I take up hobbies and leave them. But here I am working on my sixth book, five of which I have produced entirely by myself.
KC: How did you learn to do the self-publishing? There are many options out there for doing it online...how did you sort it out? If someone else wanted to go that route, what are some of the mistakes you made in learning the process that others should avoid?
CC: That's a great question Kyoko. Typically of me I just dove straight in on my Kindle. The process was surprisingly almost painless. The instructions on the Amazon site were quite easy to follow, even for someone as bad with computers as I am. The thing I found most difficult was the formatting. You really do have to go step by step. But, if you are careful, then you should be able to work it out. I did have a screaming fit at the computer when it came to doing the Table of Contents. It wasn't pretty for an hour or two until I realised how to use Headings in Word properly. Once you figure that out it's plain sailing. When you upload the book to Amazon you get a preview of the book so you can make sure it looks okay, then you hit publish and bingo you’re an author.
Creating the covers is fun. I do my writing and covers on my Mac and have to download images, work them on iPages, use the Grab utility to get a ttif image, save that as a jpeg and then email it to my PC and use that to upload to Amazon. One day I will probably work out how to do it in half the time. I'm a great one for making my life difficult, LOL.
After I had done several books I found a free ebook from Smashwords on formatting. That’s my big tip: Get The Smashwords Style Guide by Mark Coker. It is a brilliant guide to formatting and setting up a table of contents. I wish I’d had that when I started. It works just as well for Amazon as it does for Smashwords.
My other big tip is to have fun doing it. There is no point otherwise. If you can't stand part of it and you want to make things easier, then you can outsource whatever part of the process you don't like. There are so many people out there who can format or do cover work for little cost. But it does mean you have to sell more to start making a profit.
KC: Speaking of profit, does it always pay for itself? I'm not going to ask you for your last tax reporting but just tell me, do you make enough to treat yourself to a new pair of Louboutins on a fairly regular basis?
CC: Well it hasn't made me rich yet! There are a lot of very talented people out there just scraping a living. But, this is a Cinderella industry. One break and you can make it big. That is part of the thrill. If you do make it big you have created something colossal. I am a great believer that you create your own luck in this world. I do not begrudge anyone any luck that they have. I wish everyone well. If I have been slogging away and get only a few sales and a newer author gets picked up by Tinsel Town with their first book well done to them. They obviously got something right.
KC: Carla, you obviously pour your heart into your self-published material and you can write. But let’s face it, not everyone does or can. Self-publishing can produce less than stellar results. There is great indie stuff out there but sometimes you have to search a bit to find that diamond in the rough! What tips would you give a reader who is looking for quality self-published material?
CC: There are so many authors out there and so many different approaches to the genre that it's very difficult to find what you are looking for. I review books that I have read if I enjoyed them. If I don't like them I don't review them. Some of the work I have reviewed is what I would call experimental and loved it. I suppose the only advice I could give to someone is, if you like reading, read. Read lots. Cram a whole load of stuff on your e-reader and just read. With prices as they are there is always good stuff to be found and you can get it downloaded on your e-reader straight away. There has never been a better time to be a reader and because of that there has never been a better time to be an indie author.
KC: Thanks for talking to me today, Carla!
CC: Thanks for having me. I have really enjoyed it.
To find out more about Carla's work, including how you can purchase her smoking hot anthologies and books, visit her blog.