My Favourite Indie Publishing Resources
I’m not just a cover designer, I’m also an indie author. During my author journey, I’ve tried many websites, apps and services. Here are some of my favourites.
Please note that I’ve chosen not to list services like social media sites, newsletter apps or website builders. These are useful for any business, but I wanted to focus on the tools and services specific to indie authors.
Andrea Barton from Brightside Story Studio is my go-to book editor, one I wish I’d found earlier in my journey! She works hard, has oodles of vision and valuable feedback, but stays true to your story and tone of voice. Working with a good editor makes such a difference, and I’d say it’s even more important to us indies. It means you’re not in this alone. A good editor is invested in your story and works as hard as you to make it the best it can be. I highly recommend Andrea for the job!
This is rather obvious, one you probably already know and use. But in case you’re just starting out, this is where you need to go to set up an account and publish your books (both ebook and paperback) on Amazon, the conglomerate that dominates the world ebook market. You can choose to go exclusive with your ebooks and publish only through them. For many, that’s all they need to make an income. Other like myself choose to not put all of our eggs in one basket. It might be more about obstinacy than financial wisdom though… KDP also offer the best monitoring tools, so you see almost in real time how many books you do (or don’t) sell 🙂
COST: Free to set up and publish, but they take a 30-70% commission per book
The easiest way to get your indie-published book into bookshops and libraries! You still need to do some marketing, and maybe ask a friend to request your book at the local library, but when you publish your paperback/hardcover book through Ingram Spark, you can choose to make it public and available in all the catalogues used by bookstores and libraries. Remember, you can go wide with your paperbacks via Ingram Spark even if your ebooks are in Kindle Unlimited!
You can also order your own paperback copies from them, and let me tell you, their quality is NIIIICE. Much nicer than Amazon POD (print-on-demand).
COST: Set up fee $50/book, but they offer promo codes for indie authors so you may end up getting it for free!
Draft2Digital is an online publishing platform that makes it easy to sell your ebooks wide. I don’t have time to manage multiple platforms like Kobo, Apple, Scribd, B&N, etc. By publishing through D2D, I can keep things simple. They also have brilliant, free tool that turns your Word doc into a presentable .epub file that’s good for online publishing. When creating the file, you can choose to add various back matter, such as automatically generated blurbs/links to other books, to make more sales.
COST: FREE TO SET UP
They take 10% of the retail price of each book sale, on top of the retailer’s cut
You can obviously just put your book up on Bookfunnel and use social media to reach out for ARC readers, but I’ve found that very time consuming and tried several services that offer book reviews. Book Sirens seems to be the best one so far. They bring you readers and in my experience, a vast majority do leave reviews. You also get to vet the people, excluding those who don’t have an Amazon profile, for example. Most authors are not after Goodreads reviews, so it makes sense to focus on readers who are actually active on Amazon and will leave you reviews that boost sales. Now you can also prioritise Bookbub reviews, which is a great feature if you do any advertising on Bookbub or manage to land a featured deal.
$10/book, plus $2/reader (one they provide)
Book marketing / mailing-list building
You can use Bookfunnel to distribute free copies of your book (or audio book!), either to get reviews or build your mailing list. I mainly use Bookfunnel to join promos organised by other authors. It’s a relatively easy way to reach more readers. You do have to commit to sharing the promos and sending out your own newsletter as scheduled.
The easiest way to start is to set up a page for a book (or short story/novella) as your reader magnet – one you’re willing to give away in exchange for the reader’s email. You can then share that page through social media, use for newsletter swaps and other promos, anywhere you have traffic. It can also sit on your website and Facebook page as a permanent fixture, quietly growing your mailing list in the background.
$100/year to be able to collect email addresses
VOCARIOUS READERS ONLY
There are many sites out there where authors can find ARC readers (readers willing to read and review ARCs – advanced reader copies). Voracious Readers Only is one of my favourites, because it also collects email addresses, allowing you to add the readers on your mailing list. There is less tracking of the readers, which is why I’m listing this under ‘marketing’, not reviews. But I love how easy this was to set up, bringing a constant trickle of new readers to my mailing list without ALMOST any effort. I say almost, since at the moment, the sign-ups are delivered as individual emails which quickly clog up your inbox and take time to wade through. You can request a CSV list though, and they’re very responsive.
A one-off 20-book giveaway: FREE
Continuous reader magnet on their website: $20/month
Hiring a designer to create all the little bits and pieces you need for book promotions is cost prohibitive. Canva is one of the best online design tools I know. It speeds up the process by offering a vast array of pre-made templates, perfectly sized for each social media channel, etc. I use it myself, even though I’m very comfortable with the professional design software. Canva is just faster for those little jobs. I also set up templates for my clients on their Canva accounts, to make sure they have everything they need to get started.
FREE account is perfectly functional
PRO account includes more stock photos and features, for about $15/month (if you use a lot of stock photos, you’ll save that back quickly)