The Growing Mind

Writing My Memoir & Emotional Growth

Let’s get to Business: A Checklist for How to Become an Indie Author

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Picture by Andrew Neel @andrewneel

(1121 words – 8 minute read) Independence has been the magic word through out my life. Since I was a little girl, I wanted to be independent. I’ve tried hard and succeeded in so many aspects of my life; immigration, finance, job back in Iran. But, I have been a paycheck lady ever since I came to the U.S. Every now and then I thought about becoming a freelancer again but didn’t seriously pursue it. I was not and am not ready for the financial risk. But a few years ago, I noticed an inside revolution and strong desire, demanding to create something new other than a freelance project analyst. The uprising in my heart took me home; I began writing my memoir.

Writing my memoir taught me develop more critical thinking skills, approaching the society from not one but many different viewpoints. In short, I became capable of understanding how to put things in perspective. I learned, saying it is very different than practicing it.

When I had a complete manuscript ready,  I automatically followed the norm of the community, traditional publisher hunting. For a couple of months, I stressed myself by preparing a query letter, writing a proposal, searching and making a long list of agents and small presses. I noticed one thing was happening every time I took a break from the highly competitive environment of traditional publishing. I sheltered to websites about self-publishing. It was exciting to understand that process, kinda liberating. You are going to say, “Wait, self-publishing puts you in a more competitive environment”. My answer is “NO”. Writing a book is creating a piece of art. Assessing a piece of art is subjective. All of a sudden, I didn’t want to wait for one agent or a small press to evaluate my book based on how much money it makes. All I wanted was to share my story with readers. What if I find readers myself?

I got into the mode of risk analysis. I am confident about my book and I worked hard on it. The professional editing done on this book has been a masterful job. However, this is my first book and I am no James Baldwin. There is a slim chance of finding an agent who works with big publishers. For that pixel of a chance, the time I needed to spend could be up to two years. Indie publishers and small presses don’t have a budget for marketing and publicity so I have to do it myself, and they were going to take a long time to publish my book. I had a feeling that with everything going on in America, now is the right time to publish my book and share memories of an Iranian girl. The result of my risk analysis: I became an indie author who will self-publish her own book.

I decided when I want to publish it, what the cover design and interior design would be, and I wanted to try to find my own audience who would like to know about stories of women raised in other parts of the world. Was it stressful or scary? YES! But there are different types of fear and stress and the type I chose are constructive and motivating.

It was time to learn about publishing, marketing, and PR, subjects that I had never touched before. Six months passed and I now feel good about the steps I am taking. I even feel joy and confidence walking this path. Not pursuing becoming a best seller goal, I know I will find opportunities to share my story with the right people and will connect with them heart to heart.

Here (below), I am sharing the complete list of my steps for book publishing, marketing, and promoting. This list is built over the past six months and will improve over time. I will be happy to answer questions about any step. I have many helpful websites for each step that I can share. Please reach out. It makes me happy to connect and help!

·        Finishing editing the 2500th version
·        Professional Editing
·        Permission for poems in the book
·        Research and finalize the title and subtitle
·        Write book description for Back Cover
·        Send the book to beta readers
·        Incorporate beta reader’s feed back
·        Send final manuscript to copyedit
·        Research for a creative cover design
·        Hire the cover design artist
·        Write author bio, dedication, acknowledgments
·        Review the copyedit and resolve all issues
·        Proofread the entire book one more time
·        Finalize the front cover design
·        Create a draft of the advanced reviewer request letter
·        Create a list for the advanced reviewer request
·        Sending advanced review request letters
·        Send the book to advanced readers
·        Send the book for PW Book review
·        Send the book for paid reviews (City Book Review – San Francisco)
·        Send the book for paid reviews (The indie reviews)
·        Send the book for paid reviews (The US Review)
·        Send the book for paid reviews (The Midwest Book Reviewer)
·        Send the book for paid reviews (The New York Review Books)
·        Send the book for paid reviews (Reader’s favorite)
·        Create Goodreads author webpage
·        Purchase Website domain
·        Website design
·        Making a list of authors for Endorsement request
·        Making a draft letter for author review request
·        Sending request to authors for blurbs
·        Create own publishing Company
·        Purchase ISBNs
·        Library of Congress registration (PCN)
·        Copy right for each format
·        Write the press release
·        Send final copy to interior design (For print and Digital)
·        Review designed pages; adjust/revise (For print)
·        Complete back cover design + spine (For print)
·        Create Ingram Spark Account (Amazon, Smashword, D2D, and many others…)
·        Research/determine price point for all formats (Ingram Spark helps with Pricing)
·        Research/determine sales categories
·        Research/determine keywords/tags
·        Download and learn Caliber SW for EPUB (For digital)
·        Create EPUB/MOBI files (For digital)
·        Proofread final files in all formats
·        Upload the files to Ingram Spark
·        Send a copy for test prints
·        Send a copy of the book to the Library of Congress
·        Release the book on-sale for pre-order in Ingram Spark
·        Print run for X paperback and X hardback
·        Create Kickstarted Project (Crowdfunding)
·        Audiobook Production
·        Distribution for PR (O magazine & NPR) – (Needs a list for other places) (PR)
·        Talking to a lawyer for any possible legal issues
·        PW Bookfairs (London, Sharjah, NY) (Marketing)
·        Make a list of Indie Book Stores in each city
·        Contact Bookstores as soon as first reviews come in (PR)
·        Create quotes from the book (Marketing)
·        Marketing design for goodies (Marketing)
·        Plan Launch party (PR)
·        PW Promotion with PW publication (Marketing)
·        Research for Bookbaby Support (Marketing)
·        Research for NetGalley Support (Marketing)
·        Create a short Video – Trailer (PR)
·        Contact related department at Universities (PR)
·        Sent an application for Book Festivals (PR)
·        Reach out to Radios and Podcasts to Request Interviews (PR)

 

Let’s celebrate life!

Editing credit: Mike Curtis

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Author: Shabnam

Shabnam Curtis the author of My Persian Paradox: Memories of an Iranian Girl was born and raised in Tehran, experiencing the Iranian Revolution of 1979 firsthand. In 2004 she immigrated to the United States, where she now works as a project performance analyst and in her free time reads works by such authors as James Baldwin, Azar Nafisi, and Isabel Allende. Shabnam teaches memoir writing workshops and is working on her second memoir. She lives in Sterling, Virginia, with her husband and two dogs.

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