By Madeleine Dodge
Self-publishing your book can make you feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway. Lost and alone, you spend futile days on the Internet trying to find the best printers, editors and designers—and wondering if anyone is out there who can help. If you’ve resorted to naming your manuscript “Wilson,” it’s time to join an independent publishing group.
Independent publishing organizations are regional or national groups that provide support to authors and service providers in the indie pub industry. Meetings usually consist of speakers, breakout sessions, and networking events.
How can they help you, specifically?
We spoke to Alexandra O’Connell, former president of The Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA), to get the inside-scoop on the benefits of joining an independent publishers association.
Below, O’Conner offers 6 reasons to join today:
To lessen the learning curve. If you’re trying to learn everything on your own, you may find that there’s too much information to sort out by yourself. In a group, other members can guide you through each step of the process and answer your questions as they arise. Feeling confused about how to make an ebook or audiobook? Unsure which new printer is best? Your group’s wide variety of members and experiences will have the answers.
To learn from vetted experts. Looking for answers on the Internet may leave you prey to questionable sources. Luckily, many groups host expert speakers who can answer your questions. For example, CIPA hosts Amazon professionals, bookstore owners, TV anchors, and marketing experts—all vetted by the group, so that you can have confidence in their information.
To network with professional service providers in person. It’s one thing to connect with a service provider on the Internet; it’s another entirely to connect with that person face to face. During meetings, you can network with designers, editors, and marketers and make sure they are the right fit for you, personality and experience-wise. By soliciting references to service providers from group members, you get reliable services and avoid unqualified or dishonest providers.
To learn from the mistakes of others: By seeing other authors’ work, you can decide what to emulate and what to avoid with your own book. For example, if another author in your genre makes a mistake that costs him hundreds of dollars, such as choosing the wrong cover design, you’ll know how to avoid the cost yourself. By contrast, if an author shares her sales success at a book signing, you can learn her strategies.
To increase your online presence. Indie publishing groups often post author news on their social media accounts and in their digital newsletters. These groups generally have a large online audience, so this is a great way to reach more people.
To have a supportive environment of authors. As O’Connell describes it, being a member of an indie publishing group is like finding your tribe. CIPA’s catchphrase, “Do it yourself without doing it alone,” encompasses this idea. You may be publishing your book on your own, but you don’t have to be lonely while doing it. Your built-in cheerleaders will support you along the way.
Colorado-based authors who are interested in joining an independent publishing group can register to be a member of CIPA here. For a list of other regional associations, see the Independent Book Publishers Association’s list of affiliates.
Madeleine Dodge, a BlueInk Review Summer 2018 intern, is a Rhetoric and Media Studies Major at Lewis & Clark College and author of the children’s book Does A Giraffe Ever Feel Small?
BlueInk Review is a fee-based book review service devoted to self-published titles exclusively. For more news and writing and marketing tips, sign up for our mailing list. And be sure and visit us at https://www.blueinkreview.com./