13 Point Roadmap to Becoming an Indie


I have the privilege of meeting lots of young/up and coming writers when I do booths at conventions. They often look at my table with a large number of paperbacks bearing my name and ask with wide eyes, “You did all this?”

It’s a perfect open door for me to share with authors about the form, craft, nuts and bolts, etc. of writing. It’s a big world, and so there is no sense getting bent out of shape or jealous when another writer wants to break in. Wishing for others to fail (even secretly) is not a strategy for success… and so I’ve tried to be as much of an encourager and guide as possible to other authors (even when criticism is needed.)

One thing often asked by those wide-eyed writers is, “How?” When you hold a paperback in your hand, there are so many things that will have gone into it in order to make it a reality, and so I’ve created a handy-dandy roadmap for those with fierce DIY inclinations… the best part is that this checklist/guide is a potentially FREE route to having that book in print, available for purchase in all 3 major formats, and on bookstore shelves (provided you have the network/skills to get art and editing done without a cost.) Something I tell almost every person who asks me about writing/self-publishing: “If someone’s trying to sell you a ‘publishing package,’ run away. It’s either a scam or they’re making money off of authors, not books.”

  1. write book
  2. edit book to high quality and properly format
  3. secure cover art
  4. write back cover text including bio
  5. decide on book pricing
  6. upload all files to Createspace and Ingramspark
  7. push novel to kindle for ebook version
  8. add bio to amazon author profile
  9. put book into distribution through both Createspace and Ingramspark (search for and utilize an Ingram coupon code to avoid fees. I’ve never been able to not find a code).
  10. mirror ebook version to Smashwords so that it is pushed to all major retailers (itunes, BN, kobo, etc.)
  11. partner with producer on ACX and have book converted to audio
  12. work to build a platform (social media, website, and email campaign service).
  13. begin adverts utilizing amazon associates

Of course, this roadmap is only really relevant if you have already decided to go the independent route, as many people do. Even many traditional authors (even well-known ones) choose to engage in both sides of the business, letting publishing houses handle much of their work, but also dabbling with some indie/self-pub stuff, too.

There’s many ways to do it, and the order doesn’t need to be followed in a truly linear fashion (I often do steps 3 and 4 during my 3rd draft, for example.) If you choose to follow these 13 steps, you should have all the major pieces in place to begin your journey as an indie (from here, the only one who can stop you from succeeding is you! Don’t wax apathetic or release the book into the wild and “hope for the best.” You’ve got to keep a steady hand on it, but you’ve got this.) You’re an author, so do author stuff!

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