Tuesday, January 30, 2018

C.R. Richards On "Being Indie"

On "Being Indie" is a blog series that introduces us to a wide variety of small press authors and publishers as they discuss what being indie means to them.

A huge lover of horror and dark fantasy stories, C. R. Richards enjoys telling tales of intrigue and adventure. Having began writing as a part-time columnist for a small entertainment newspaper, Richards has worn several hats: food critic, entertainment reviewer and cranky editor. She has now published a handful of novels, including Phantom Harvest - book one in The Mutant Casebook Series - which took home the EPIC eBook Award for Fantasy in 2014.  

Her most recent literary projects include the horror short story, Lost Man's Parish and the newly-released dark fantasy thriller, Pariah. She is an active member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Horror Writers Association.

In November, Richards released her epic dark fantasy novel The Obsidian Gates, the second installment in the Heart of the Warrior series. 

Answers to The Top Three Questions I Get from New Authors

Teaching writing workshops and participating on panels are a few “published author perks.” Public speaking is a wonderful opportunity for me to meet my readers as well as hopeful creatives pursuing their dreams. Writers’ conferences, library talks and Denver Comic Con. The faces are different, but the hope burning in each eye is the same. Being an unrepentant mentor at heart, I enjoy the opportunity to encourage these dreamers.

I’ve listed the top three questions I’m asked at my public speaking engagements. These answers are written in the spirit of mentorship. I hope they both inform and encourage.

Should I traditionally publish first before I try Indie Publishing?
My first book (co-author) and my first solo book where traditionally published by a small press. I’m grateful for the experience. Small presses are more likely to give first time authors a chance. They’re much more patient with inexperienced newbies as the manuscripts move through the publishing process. This special care, however, doesn’t follow you into the marketing phase once your book is out. Small presses have limited money to spend on publicity. Unfortunately, they can also be unstable. I’ve known many authors who find themselves out in the cold after their small press has shut down.

Back to the question: Despite the limited marketing funds and shaky fiscal ground, I would still recommend trying a small press first. A successful Indie Author must understand the publishing process. Working with a small press gives you some experience if your brand new to the publishing world.

Situations in which you might try Indie Publishing first:

·         You already know your way around the publishing world
·         You have experience managing a business
·         You have a nonfiction niche book which might be hard to sell to a publisher (Example: Fun Hobbies for Microbiologists)

What is the most expensive part of Indie Publishing?
Editing. Good editors aren’t cheap. They earn every penny and can make the difference between your book’s success or it’s fiery crash. If you’re serious about Indie Publishing, hire the best editor you can afford. Check their references. A bad editor means a bad book. Resist the impulse to go cheap. Getting your “friend’s mother’s cousin who reads a lot” to edit your book may not give you a good product.

My answer usually surprises the majority of workshop attendees. Most people think the book cover and design costs the most. New authors are still starry eyed about seeing their name on the book cover. Don’t get me wrong. It never gets old.

Why did you become an Indie Author if you’ve been traditionally published?
I learned one of life’s harshest lessons after my first solo book was published by a small press. They’d been very encouraging during the publishing process, but their interest level dramatically dropped once the book was out the door. The small press wasn’t prepared to pay one dime toward publicity or make any effort to send it out on blog tours. I’d naively assumed they would since it won a “Best Fantasy” award.

The harsh lesson: Nobody cares as much about your books as you do.

This particular small press had also tied my hands when it came to publicity and marketing. I was restricted to certain “pre-approved” groups and had no ability to put my book on sale for promotional purposes. The book didn’t sell well.

Frustrated and very disappointed, I decided to drive my own success. I self-published a short book and experimented with various types of marketing. After all, the book was completely mine. I could do whatever I wanted now. This little book sold more in the first few months than my traditionally published book has in its lifetime (even to date). It was all the proof I needed. I could be a successful Indie Publisher. Three books later, I’m still driving my own success.

Final Thought – Being an Indie Author comes with risks: money, time and reputation. It’s all on your shoulders. Take the time to learn the business, make good financial decisions and you’ll reap all the rewards. Now go and create!

One Last Thing – The Indie community is full of dedicated writers, musicians, film makers, artists and other creatives. Each of these mavericks lovingly create their art for all of us to enjoy. Give them a try. Support your local Indie Community!

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