Dat Writer Professionalism

Self-publishing should conjure up a desert wasteland backdrop with a hooded figure in black creeping along the outskirts of society. You’re avoiding big corporate publishers and taking your book rights into your own hands! You’re a rebel. You’re a revolutionary! You’re sticking it to the traditional industry route and to hell with all the rules!

Except, no.

The self-publishing world is not as vagabond as it once was, since the road to stand out amidst the millions of other indies who believe in their work is pretty similar to the corporate publishing route.

But I wanted to be an OUTLAW like one of these guys!!

Outlaws

Unfortunately, self-publishing may not give you the badass points you were hoping for. Remember, there’s a widely accepted code of conduct and professionalism for the most success, to help you stand up against those big-name publishers. My approach so far has been to be chill about it, like Spike Spiegel, because who didn’t like Spike Spiegel?? He remained composed, kicked so much ass because of it, and always came out on top. Until…you know.

Months ago, I tried to reach out to a website about possibly listing Chaos (un)Controlled during it’s free period on Amazon. It wasn’t one of the traditional promotion sites; I was trying to think outside the box and it was an NYC website I’d been following for years now. Since the main premise of Chaos (un)Controlled is Rixa climbing a ladder in the New York Public Library while working there as a Page to reach University Heights, it seemed fitting. Here was their response:

NYCOnTheCheapResponse

Welp, I’d gotten many query rejection letters before; I could handle this. I could see they were trying to scold me for my Vash-The-Stampede-like approach. Was my salutation “Hey guys”? Yes. Did I ask for a shout-out from “you guys”? Yes. Did I understand their offense? Nope, not at all. I guess I wasn’t “professional” enough. However, as a long-time visitor of their site and Twitter follower, I hadn’t found their site to be particularly professional at all. The layout wasn’t quality, site updates were only occasional, and they only had about 2,000 Twitter followers, so I hadn’t pegged their business as an uber-polished establishment that necessitated a suit and tie to email them. After that response I realized if that was what they were trying to be, then forget it, I didn’t need them. My whole premise for sticking with them had been their small-business-friendly feel. I love supporting small, non-corporate entities and other indie startups trying to make it in the world. So I stopped following them and no longer visit their site. Remember, I prefer Chucks. And I’m petty.

If someone enjoyed my work, and wants to come up and compliment me like “Yo, dude, bro, guy, your writing is sick, I really dug it,” I would appreciate that to the fullest. My go-to author profile picture is me sipping from a Pokeball mug. My descriptions don’t follow the standard “So-and-so Author was born in New England where she resides with her 3 kids, loving husband and dog. She has written numerous critically acclaimed pieces that have won countless awards from the Society of Great Writers That We Respect for their Professionalism yadda yadda.” Truthtrebles.com is my “author website,” I guess. I don’t try to professionalize my profile, because I’m a person first, indie author second. I’d rather read someone’s words rather than a list of their 30 awards or New York Times Bestseller rankings. I’d rather gain notoriety for realness, and go off guns-blazing like Gene Starwind. Professionalism doesn’t inspire human connection as much as realness.  It will hinder me, but that’s fine. Because outlaws are so much cooler. Especially when they wear peacoats with Chucks. And that’s kind of what self-publishing is all about.

See You Space Cowboy…

~Tael

RAWR Moments: KDP

Indie Authors inevitably do a hell of a lot of bumbling. Choosing a platform to self-publish with is one of the many first steps. There are a slew of reasons to choose Amazon, including the fact that many online promotion sites exclusively use their affiliate links and their reach is massive. I’m already an avid Primer; I order everything off Amazon from jeans to birthday gifts to kitty litter. It’s my go-to site whenever I’m looking to purchase something online; I’ll even find it somewhere on the Internet first, then search the exact product title on Amazon to see if I can get it there. I have their credit card, so I try to rack up loyalty points. Why isn’t everything on their streaming service free to Primers damn it?? Anyway, it’s a great way to go for self-publishing, but with no one to hold your hand through the process, there can be some hair-tearing moments.

First, with the advent of ebooks, KDP is largely focused on just that. Paperbacks take a backseat in this day and age even though some of us diehards who prefer to feel those pages still exist. Amazon has two options for printing paperbacks: CreateSpace and KDP. The problem is that even though they’re both under the Amazon umbrella, they’re still separate. KDP is the newer “beta” printing version that lists your stats alongside your ebook stats all on one page together. Nifty concept, but KDP has glitches that give CreateSpace the bigger fanbase. Only thing is, when you’re setting up the whole KDP thing initially, there isn’t a big “CLICK HERE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN KDP OR CREATESPACE FOR YOUR PRINT VERSION” button. You go with what’s there because it’s a print option available on the same platform as your ebook. I didn’t immediately find it clear that there was another option I could have chosen during setup, or that there was a clear reason to look into the other option, for that matter. That may be the trap for those who chose to self-publish after KDP printing was rolled out last year. You assume they’re all melded together somehow, but once you choose KDP, apparently you cannot switch over to CreateSpace. You’re now locked in.

Some people hate that you can’t order free/discounted author copies with KDP, but I don’t mind paying for my own book. But a lot of formatters don’t know how to work with KDP, only CreateSpace, and apparently formatting between the two varies to a high degree for whatever reason. Then there’s the glitchy uploading process. Loading the Print Previewer takes fooooooorrrrrreeeeeeverrrrrrr and often times out. If it’s still attempting to load after 10 minutes, I cancel and try to restart because I know it’s stalled. Then, once it does load, it can be veeeeerrryyyyy finicky. It may throw up an error that your image isn’t 300 DPI when it is. It may show you an older version of your manuscript even though if you open the file on your desktop, it’s already revised. It might tell you that your cover image doesn’t meet the trim requirements, then NOT throw that error if you re-upload the exact same file. Sometimes it just drops your cover altogether even if you didn’t touch it, and you have to re-upload it all over again, and then the cover upload stalls because it just wants to misbehave right now and you should try back in a few hours, even though IT WAS JUST WORKING.

Their rather antiquated beta templates for your trim sizes seem to be the best headache-free way to go, unless you hand over your manuscript to an editor for revisions and they screw over your margins and gutter formatting. I’m currently uploading a Word Document, because I like the freedom of being able to jump in and make a quick correction if pointed out to me, and then re-upload. I also prefer Eccentric Simplicity.

But the fact is, the print uploader for KDP can make the whole process a head-banging challenge (and no, not the party hard rock music kind). Even just little changes or quick revisions can become a nightmare. For days I’ve been trying to get my manuscript updated because I thought it would be cute to have chapter headers at the top of each page. I enlisted the aid of Fiverr and was met by hustlers. “Oh you want the headers CENTERED? That’ll be an extra gig because you didn’t say that originally and it will take more time.” Even with unlinked chapters, I centered them in 10 minutes. :/ “Oh, I moved the blank page before the Table of Contents and didn’t charge extra for that.” Well, I wouldn’t have expected you to anyway for moving a page over, but thanks for informing me of your overflowing generosity. I moved the project to another Fiverr who did a much better job, for a much higher price, but resulted in the template formatting being lost (he specializes in CreateSpace formatting). :/ He did give me options for revising the Kindle version though so it wasn’t a complete loss.

After stress-eating chocolate cake all morning and driving my nails into my temples, my boss offered to help and completed the header formatting the Fiverr’s could not complete to my liking in the past 2 days in 20 minutes. She is Dumbledore. And now I solemnly swear that I will not make any more changes so I don’t have to go through this again. No more trying to be cute. I’ll stick with Eccentric Simplicity. Lord knows I’m super-picky when it comes to EVERYTHING. I don’t need my self-publishing platform to be like me. -.-‘

~Tael