The Indie Author Guide

Find out how to successfully self-publish and promote your work in The Indie Author Guide by April L. Hamilton.
Publish date:

The Indie Author Guide

by April L. Hamilton

Writer's Digest Books, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1-58297-994-6

ISBN-10: 1-58297-994-4

$19.99 paperback, 304 pages

Buy the Book!

Read an Excerpt!

Find out how to create and develop your brand to set your work apart in this excerpt from Chapter Three: Creating Your Brand.

Online Exclusive: Q&A With Self-Publishing Expert April L. Hamilton

April L. Hamilton shares her insights into the benefits and challenges of indie authorhip in this exclusive Q&A.

About the Book

The Indie Author Guide takes you through every stage of the self-publishing process. With e-books, print on demand and the power of Web 2.0, you have the ability to publish your own high quality books and go indie—just as filmmakers and musicians have done. Get detailed instructions, complemented by screenshots, so you can get the most of cutting edge publishing options.

April L. Hamilton, founder of Publetariat, an online news hub and community for indie authors, gives you insight to the latest technology and step-by-step advice for making the most of your self-publishing options.

Inside you’ll find everything you need to know to:

  • organize your files
  • create your brand
  • explore your self-publishing options
  • format your book for POD
  • edit and revise you work
  • design your own book cover
  • publish through a POD print service provider
  • publish in e-book formats
  • build an author platform
  • promote your work
  • transition from indie to mainstream publishing

Plus, you’ll get worksheets to help you plan and organize your book, your business, and your writing life, as well as an HTML primer so you can build your own website—even if you’re not tech savvy.

The Indie Author Guide gives you the skills and confidence you need to take full advantage of today’s unique publishing opportunities and grow your readership yourself.

About the Author

April L. Hamilton is an author, blogger, Technorati BlogCritic, leading advocate and speaker for the indie author movement, and founder of, the premiere online news hub and community for indie authors and small imprints. She’s spoken at the O’Reilly Tools of Change conference and the Writer’s Digest Business of Getting Published conference, and has also judged self-published books for competitions run by Writer’s Digest and the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She is also on the Board of Directors for the Association of Independent Authors, and works as a freelance editor, designer, and platform/publishing consultant for self-publishers. Find out more at www.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Indie Authorship: An Introduction

oPortrait of the Indie Author

oA History Lesson

oThe Current State of Affairs

oIndie vs. Vanity

oWhy Don’t More Authors Go Indie?

oBias Against Self-Publication

oCommon Misperceptions About Indie Authorship

oTools of the Indie Author Trade

oGoals in Indie Authorship

Chapter 2: Getting Organized

oHard Drive Housekeeping and Organization

oEmail Housekeeping and Organization

Chapter 3: Creating Your Brand

oA Note About Imprint Branding vs. Author Branding

oOverview of Author Branding

oShould Your Name Be Your Brand?

oYou Versus Your Brand Name

oChoosing Your Author Brand: What’s In A Name

oConsistency Is Key

oKeep Your Options Open

oBeware the Common Name

oThe Same Name Game

oBecome the Master of Your Domain

Chapter 4: Publishing Options


oVanity Publishing

oSubsidy Publishing

oPrint Service Provider

oPrint on Demand

oRights, Royalties and Advances

oWhat’s the Deal With ISBNs?

oWhat About Bookstores?

oChoosing A Service Provider

oCrunch the Numbers

Chapter 5: DIY Formatting for POD


oBuild A Manuscript Shell

oCreate A Separate, Chapter Shell

oUsing the Manuscript Shell

oReady for the Printer

Chapter 6: Editing and Revising

oDIY Copyediting

oDIY Editing

oContent Rights


Chapter 7: Designing Your Own Book Cover

oWrite A Book Description

oGather Blurbs

oDownload A Book Cover Template

oA Note About Cover Art Rights

oExamine the Template

oInsert Art and Text

oHide the Template Guide Layer

oSave Your File

oFinal Tips and Notes

Chapter 8: Publishing Through A POD Print Service Provider

oAdvantages of POD

oQuestions And Answers About Pod Print Service Providers

oPreparing Your Manuscript

oSet Up Your Book

oReview Setup

oThe Review Proof

oCustomize Your Book’s Page On Your Provider’s Bookstore Site

oWatch For Your Book Listings

oMonitoring Sales After Your Book Is Released

oStill Unclear on Something?

Chapter 9: Publishing in Ebook Formats

oGuidelines and Gotchas For All Ebooks

oGetting Your Manuscript Ready

oEbook Production And Retail Sale Avenues

Chapter 10: Author Platform

oPlatform vs. Promotion

oPlatform Is About Building Community

oThe 5 Crucial Author Platform Skills

oPlatform Strategies For Any Author

oPlatform Strategies For Fiction Authors

oPlatform Strategies For Nonfiction Authors

oManaging Your Online Reputation

Chapter 11: Promotion

oWhat’s The Best Way To Promote?

oAre You Cut Out For This?

oA Signature Look

oSymbol Key

oTraditional Tactics

oNew Media Tactics

oForm A Web Promo Ring

oFigure Out What’s Working For You

oKeeping The Promo Train On Track

Chapter 12: Making The Transition From Indie to Mainstream

oCan A Publisher Help You Reach Your Goals

oIs Your Book A Good Candidate

oAre You A Good Candidate

oTargeting Publishers

oWhen To Bring In An Agent

oWhat To Expect In The Deal

oWhat To Expect In The Process

oCan You Still Self-Publish Other Works?

Appendix 1: Worksheets

Appendix 2: An HTML Primer

Mistakes Writers Make: Not Using Your Spare 15 Minutes

Mistakes Writers Make: Not Using Your Spare 15 Minutes

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is not using your spare 15 minutes.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Visitor

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Unexpected Visitor

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, invite an unexpected visitor into your story.

7 Tips for Writing a Near Future Dystopian Novel

7 Tips for Writing a Near-Future Dystopian Novel

In this article, debut author Christina Sweeney-Baird explains how writers can expertly craft a near-future dystopian novel.

Pam Jenoff: On Writing About Isolation While Isolated

Pam Jenoff: On Writing About Isolation While Isolated

Bestselling author Pam Jenoff shares how she explored themes of isolation in her latest novel, The Woman with the Blue Star, while writing during the 2020 pandemic lockdown.

8 Ways to Add Suspense to your Novel

8 Ways to Add Suspense to your Novel

Authors Mark and Connor Sullivan are no strangers to utilizing suspense in their novels. Here, they share their top 8 tips for writers to do the same.

Lynn Painter: On Rom-Coms and Escapism

Lynn Painter: On Rom-Coms and Escapism

Author Lynn Painter discusses the strengths of the romantic comedy genre and how she utilized them in her novel Better than the Movies.

On Mining Humor From Family Dynamics in Your Writing

On Mining Humor From Family Dynamics in Your Writing

Humor often stems from things that are not humorous. Can you mine your family's dynamics for inspiration? Author Jesse Q. Sutanto believes you can, and gives you her top 3 tips for doing so.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 563

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write an after poem.

How to Inhabit the Character You Write About

How to Inhabit the Character You Write About

One key to engaging your reader is to give them a character they love to read about. Author Diana Souhami gives her top tips for making this happen.