Backing The Train Up – Part 2 …by Susan Lute

Steam punk girl with Typewriter.This is going to sound really dumb, but after nearly two years of self-publishing, I’m on a mission to learn the actual mechanics of publishing. From scratch. Okay, I know a lot, but still I’m shaking my head, a little frustrated, but mostly thinking why didn’t I learn some of these things from the beginning? Like…well you’ll see.

Before I get to that, as promised, here’s everything I know so far about Indie publishing and my place in it.

  • On a personal note, I am not starting over, just taking another road to my destination. Really? But I digress.
  • Epublishing, and especially becoming an Indie author has changed everything. For the better.
  • There’s a hell of a lot to learn. And learn. And learn.
  • You have to WRITE THE NEXT BOOK. This is not new.
  • Series sell!
  • Besides a really good story, a healthy backlist is what brings in readers and sales.
  • For the majority of authors, the more novels in your backlist the better your sales.
  • There is more of a relationship, a strategy if you will, between price point and sales than there is between promotional marketing and sales.
  • The most important promotional marketing tool is a large mailing list. Growing that mailing list by becoming a real person to readers – a la Debbie Macomber – antiquated as it might sound in today’s social media circus is the only way to go. In my opinion.
  • Having a street team that will spread news of your books is worth their combined weight in gold.
  • On another personal note, I am a perfectionist when it comes to the mechanics of publishing the books. I will keep at it until I get it right. There are days when that focus keeps me from writing.
  • Did I mention… WRITE THE NEXT BOOK?

I’ve spent this week trying to get to know Scrivener, Sigil, Jutoh, kindlegen, Kindle previewer, all with mixed results. I’ve never been a MS Word person; have up to the last year used Word Perfect which doesn’t speak well with the new converters. And even though Open Office is my program of choice now, I still don’t know a thing about style sheets, formatting pages, paragraphs, oh my! Is there a Scrivener user out there who can tell me an easy, direct way to set up the project so paragraphs have first line indents?

Clearly I can outsource this stuff, but I love the pretty novels when they’re done. So with my first cup of coffee in one hand – I won’t tell you what time it is; suffice it to say it’s not before noon – and with determination in the other, it’s back to the tutorials.

On a last personal note: It’s been a lovely day. The rain has stopped in all the ways that matter and the sun is shining. The new story is calling. What more can an writer ask?

PS…next week, March 11th, my regularly scheduled post will be pre-empted by an exciting guest post from our regular visitor, Maggie Jaimeson. Maggie is starting a new venture I think you will all be very interested in. You can visit her at Windtree Press, but be sure to come back here to get the scoop. Don’t forget to bring your cup of favorite libation. This is going to be fun!


About Susan

Author, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, dreamer.

Posted on March 4, 2013, in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Sometimes I wonder if having “day jobs” is what distracts authors like you and Maggie from seeing the awesomeness of what you’ve done – and are doing. I love all the practical advice and details you share while using industry buzzwords that relate to a publishing and distribution paradigm that you don’t use.

    I’m so thrilled you’re aware that self-publishing has changed an authors career for the better. I wish you could see what I see, regarding the quality and professionalism you are bringing to your new ventures. But then, maybe if you saw what I see, you wouldn’t try as hard, or be as awesome??? Naw, I think you’d still work as hard, you’d just worry less.

    So I’ll applaud and say, keep trying new things. A writer’s life is all about the journey and you are two of my favorite examples.


  2. Susan, I highly recommend Pressbooks. You can access it at pressbooks dot com It is a FREE, open source, program that you can access on the web. It comes with three style sheet options. You copy and paste from your word processing program (copying from WordPerfect would be fine). You paste in one section at a time of your front matter, and then one chapter at a time, and finally one section at a time of your back matter, giving each section the title you wish to use(e.g. Dedication, Acknowledgements, Chapter One, Chapter Two, Excerpt, etc.). The default setting is indent of paragraphs, but you can choose left flush and line break between paragraphs if you like.

    Based on a WordPress platform it is easy to use and creates beautiful, professional pages. When everything is in the order you want you select EXPORT and it automatically puts out EPUB, MOBI, and PDF (for print) files. There are other file selections as well, but it is easy-peasy. I’ll be announcing an informal workshop toward the end of this month for anyone who wants to get some hand-holding and step-by-step instruction. I believe Paty Jager can attest to it’s efficacy and ease. She reformatted all ?? of her current books in two days using this tool.

    Did I say it was FREE? 🙂 You can use it online OR, if you are technically inclined, or have someone who is and will do it for you, you can install it on your server as a WordPress plugin for your own use. Cost? Its FREE! It’s open source. 🙂

    For FREE viewers (yes there is a theme here) I recommend Calibre. You can download it at calibre-ebook dot com . Many people use Calibre as a file converter. IT does an Okay job of that but I like Pressbooks better. However, because Calibre can read and convert many file types, you can use it’s e-reader capability to make sure your mobi, epub, pdf files can be read.

    In case you haven’t noticed, I’m really into FREE software. Though once I find something I like I ALWAYS donate to the software developer if he/she provides a way to do so.


    • Great info Maggie 🙂 We were using Calibre, but it doesn’t work with the Amazon upload anymore. That’s what has cause all the problems and propelled me on this search. Drats!


    • Also I wanted to ask, when using Pressbooks, are you using the source doc? I keep thinking I should be able to use the epub Darren has done. He’s put a lot of work into them, but what’s happening is…everything works, the epub at BN, mobi and epub now at Amazon, but in the “Look Inside” feature at Amazon no paragraphs. It’s only in the books that we’ve been updating, and Amazon can’t fix it. They say it’s a problem in the document, but they don’t know where or what.


  3. Your posts are always inspiring, Susan! This journey is long, with wicked twists and hairpin turns and nobody knows what’s at the end of the road. Frightening and exhilarating at the same time!

    I used to get Debbie Macomber’s newsletter … she’s a master at connecting with her readers and making you feel like you’ve known her forever. If only we could have a quarter of her success 🙂


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