Pursuit of the Dreamcatcher

Dreamcatchers are a fascinating Native American tradition. Intended to protect sleeping individuals, positive dreams slip through, while negative dreams get caught in the web to expire with the first rays of the sun.
      ~ Photo courtesy Nicolas Moulin

Positive or Negative Dreams
One of the comments I came across not too long ago in my indie-publishing research really stuck with me. I believe it was Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, who said it:

“In the self-publishing gold rush, more money will be made in author services than in book sales.”

What does that mean?

Well, put quite simply, it means the folks that are selling services to help you indie-publish are probably going to make a helluva lot more money than you are.

I’ve had a very modest success with indie publishing, which I hope is due more to book quality (see the press release containing my latest book review) than any marketing effort on my part or, for that matter, which service platform I used.

I’m locally known for doing my own e-Book conversions and for researching the tsunami of new services that promise to help indie authors self-publish. I was even asked to give a presentation on self-publishing options at the Rochester Writers Conference at Oakland University last fall.

The Dreamcatcher Mystique
What did I discover? It’s sad but true, Mark Coker was right. The vast majority of even traditionally published authors rarely sell more than five thousand copies of a book.

While there are exceptions (there are always exceptions) the odds of an indie writer-publisher selling even that meager amount of fiction is a significant longshot.

Still, we keep trying, don’t we?

I attribute that to the dreamcatcher mystique of publishing. We all want to be the next fabulous discovery. The next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Or even better, one of the indie-famous … like Amanda Hocking, John Locke (the self-published author, not the “Lost” TV-series character) or J.A. Konrath.

Who wouldn’t want to live that positive dream? But given the new multitude of services that promise to help an indie writer get to that Nirvana, where do you go for help?

The Results of All That Research
There are good single-channel, retailer-driven services, like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, CreateSpace or Barnes & Noble PubIt!

You will also find (presuming you’re looking) good multiple-channel distribution services like Smashwords or BookBaby that often include some kind of formatting and conversion service. Along with the newer Apple iBooks Author (which I am just now researching) these are some of the best services.

If you’re like me and determined to do most of it, if not all of it yourself, these are the ebook conversion services I have used to date:

J-Edit, a free, open source program to convert my Word manuscript to an HTML file; and Calibre, another open source (free) program to convert that HTML file to the proper MOBI and EPUB files required for Amazon and other e-Book uploads.

Sigil is another multi-platform EPUB ebook editor that I’ve heard tons of good things about, but have not tried yet myself.

That’s it. Are these all of the services that are available? Not by a long shot. But they work for me.

When all is said and done, however, the hardest part … the very hardest part … is getting someone to notice your book. I’m talking about that most dreaded of “M” words … Marketing.

Now that spring is around the corner, I’m getting ready to launch a serious word-of-mouth campaign, starting with schools, book clubs, book fairs and possibly book stores. I’ll let you know some of the details as they come together, and will report on the success (or failure) of each of them.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my lovely bride is asking me to get off the computer again. As much as I want to stay and see what the dreamcatcher has snared, I think she’s found a shorter pier for me to take my long walks on.

Or maybe she’s just calling me to breakfast.

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4 Responses to “Pursuit of the Dreamcatcher”

  1. T. W. Dittmer Says:

    It’s amazing how many people are offering their services. Good luck with the marketing, Ron.


    • Ron Herron Says:

      Thanks, Tim.
      They seem to come out of the woodwork sometimes. All offering to do what I already know how to do … and some are offering marketing services (at exorbitant rates). I’d take them up on it, if I thought they had contacts who could actually help. I can write press releases myself … the hard part is getting someone to read them and do anything about it. :-\


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