Independent authors are a lot like baby sea turtles. I’m not saying they move slowly or that they carry a burden on their backs. But they must cross the exposed sand. They are yummy to seagulls and other predators. There are tons of them, but only a few will survive.
Yet somehow, they just know they are heading in the right direction, despite watching their sisters and brothers getting gobbled up.
Indie authors don’t have Random House or Penguin copy editing, formatting or marketing their books. So they must rely on independent author services, like developmental editors, copy editors and proofreaders, formatters, cover artists, printers and marketers, maybe even publicists, and definitely third party advertising sites for promos.
Many who provide these services do a great job, are honest, and add significant value for their writing clients.
But some are predators. And it’s not always easy to spot them in the tall grass.
In addition to writing novels, I provide a variety of editing services for indie authors. And one of my clients was recently offered a publishing deal with a small publisher. I asked what this publisher was selling her, and it wasn’t clear what they would actually do. They said they had a small store and would carry copies there. They would create a cover and help my client develop an online presence, and they indicated they would market her work.
After several months, they had provided her with a very nice book cover, but she told me the font they used for the book was too light. I ordered a copy and agreed. It was practically unreadable. She complained, and they responded by saying she was impossible to work with, and that, because of her lack of effort, not a single copy of her book had sold, other than the one I bought.
They said they would not work with her, but she could not get out of the contract with them unless she paid them more than $1000.
Be sure you know what you are getting. If you are being offered a book deal, find out who else they represent. How are their sales working out? Contact the authors they currently carry. Did they have a good experience? Make sure any contracts are clear and concise. Make sure you understand what the expectations are on either side.
If it sounds too good to be… well, you know.