Friday, 5 August 2011

Guest Post: Maria Zannini on Self-Publishing

I'm delighted to have Indie author Maria Zannini guesting on my blog today, making her final stop on her Indie Roadshow.

Take it away, Maria.

An Indie Checklist

This is the last stop of our Indie Roadshow and it only seems fitting to end it with a checklist on what it takes to self-publish your own book.

An indie author is self-motivated, self-determining, and willing to take chances. If there’s one thing I learned about this journey so far, it’s that you can’t wait for someone to give you an opportunity. Self-publishing is all about giving yourself that opportunity.

But there are definite down sides to this business model.

• You are competing for an audience that is already over-saturated with options. Find something that sets you apart.

• Whereas traditional publishing pays for editing, cover art, formatting, and a little (usual minor) marketing, you must either do these things yourself or hire someone to do them for you.

• Stigma still exists, though it does appear to be waning. My best advice is to put out the best book you can, that way you can stick your tongue out at the naysayers with pride.

The positives outweigh the negatives in my opinion.

• You get a larger chunk of the royalty.

• There is far more freedom in cover design and deadlines.

• Review sites that welcome indie authors are growing in leaps and bounds.

• Self-published books that sell well do get noticed by agents.

• It is really a lot easier than it looks from the sidelines. Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can.

So what does it take to be an indie author?

1. Have a great idea. Novellas are a good way to test the waters without much investment.

2. Be willing to do the work and put in the time. No pain, no gain.

3. Set your ducks in a row before you begin. Create a timeline so you know if you’re on schedule and what you have to do next.

4. Do not skimp on necessary things like editing and cover design.

5. When it comes to formatting, follow the instructions step-by-step. I’m not kidding. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, should you decide to cheat.

6. Make a list of potential reviewers. I did this way too late and I’m paying for it now. Contact them as soon as you can because they usually have a backlog.

7. When your book is officially out, make an announcement, but don’t pimp it like a red-light special. People get tired of sales pitches.

8. Write your next book.

One of my very first editors told me that the way to increase sales is to build a back list. She was right! The Devil To Pay is my fourth book since 2009. I am selling more of my books now (including my first book) than when I started.

I hope you enjoyed The Indie Roadshow and I hope you’ll try The Devil To Pay. Thank you, Ellie for hosting me on my last stop of the tour.

If you have any questions, fire away.


The Devil To Pay is available at Amazon and Smashwords for only $2.99. It is the first book of the series, Second Chances.

Synopsis: The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and bad tequila. Shannon McKee finds herself at the end of her rope, and she bargains her soul in a fit of despair.

Shannon’s plea is answered immediately by two men who couldn’t be more different from one another. Yet they share a bond and an affection for the stubborn Miss McKee that even they don’t understand.

When Heaven and Hell demand their payment, Shannon has no choice but to submit. No matter who gets her soul, she’s not getting out of this alive.

Bio: Maria Zannini used to save the world from bad advertising, but now she spends her time wrangling chickens, and fighting for a piece of the bed against dogs of epic proportions. Occasionally, she writes novels. 
Follow me on Facebook or my blog.

Thank you, Maria!


  1. Good post. There seems to be a lot being said about self-publishing lately. A lot of good information, including warnings.

  2. Ellie, as always, I am in your debt. Thank you for inviting me to your blog.

    Thrusters on full and don't spare the dilithium crystals.

  3. Yay for a fab guest post!! All the best Maria Zannini!!! Thanks for the very handy and helpful tips on becoming an indie published author - it's truly not for the faint-hearted but for the strong, confident and determined - it's a fab route to take towards publication!

    thanks Ellie!

    Take care

  4. I self published my first book and that went down well I am now compiling a second book, I can do it at my own speed ...and as you say no dead line.

    Have a good week-end.

  5. this is some great helpful advice... i am showing my graphic novel the love, but it does not love me back. the formatting is the worst part so far, though i am working on it with a smile...cringe... frown.

    thank you maria and ellie...


  6. @Donna
    @Old Kitty

    Thanks for stopping in today!

    @iZombie: I feel your pain on the formatting. It definitely requires different brain cells, and the formatting instructions are subject to interpretation. Good luck!

  7. I've been reading more and more about writers going epug. Maybe it's because traditional publishing has become so difficult. I've chatted with author from both sides of the spectrum. If it weren't for marketting I would have jumped on it by now.

  8. I have been hearing a lot about self publishing as traditional publishing is a getting more and more difficult. This post is really very helpful. Thanks, Maria and Ellie.

  9. Excellent check list Maria!

    This whole indie show has been great and now even more is percolating in the ol' brain :)

  10. Excellent check list Maria!

    This whole indie show has been great and now even more is percolating in the ol' brain :)

  11. Maria - thanks for sharing what you've learned about indie publishing. Great, informative post!

  12. Thanks for sharing what it takes and some tips for self publishing.

  13. @Lalia: Sadly, unless you're a huge draw, the marketing will mostly be on your shoulders no matter which venue you choose.

    @Rachna:If it were easy, everyone would do it. :)

    @Raelyn: Thank you for being so supportive throughout the tour.

    @Cheryl: That's the great thing about the writing community, we all share.

    @Theresa: Glad you could make it! Thanks!

  14. Fantabulous post! Will share this on my FB page.

  15. Wonderful post, Maria! Thanks for such a concise and down-to-earth assessment!

    Hi Ellie! :)

  16. Wonderful information. Your roadshow has been the best.
    Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

  17. @Talli: Thanks! That means a lot coming from you.

    @Angela: Thanks! I hope some of the information was useful for traditional venues too. Publishing still has the same requirements no matter which route you take.

  18. Seems a lot of people are successful doing it now.

  19. I've been considering self-publishing myself, and this post was very helpful.

    Thanks Maria (and Ellie)!

  20. Good way to wrap up the tour Maria, enjoyed these bits of hard earned wisdom as much as the rest.

  21. Alex: It does seem to be gaining momentum. :)

    Morgan: Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions. If I don't know the answer, I'll betcha I know someone who does.

    Jackie: You are a sweetheart and so supportive. Thank you!

  22. Hi Ellie-- Thank you for your kind comments on my blog. You have quite a nice blog yourself. I'm really enjoying going through it.

    I did want to let you know that I tried to find your blog through your profile, but for some reason your blog doesn't show up in your profile. So I found you through Alex J's blog.

  23. Hi Ellie .. great guest today - well done Maria with your post and the excellent ideas ..

    I'd noticed that novellas are making a come back, and had spotted that once you're on a roll .. get on and write: 2,3 and 4 etc ..

    and I think the thing I'd add .. start local - if you can build a following in your area .. that will spread out .. and think communities .. eg library, hospital, community centre, perhaps hospice .. etc

    and podcast your work .. if they're short stories etc .. and local radio ..

    The Devil to Pay sounds a fun read .. I must add it to my TBBought list! Cheers Hilary

  24. Excellent advice for both traditional and self-pubbers. I'll be tweeting this post!

  25. Fabulous interview.

    When you say: Make a list of potential reviewers would this be magazines? Anyone else?

    I must say I'm interested. I may go down the novella route to dip my toe as you suggest. Many thanks Ellie and Maria :O)

  26. Great list. I've learned lots by following your road show.

  27. Greetings from the Amish community of Lebanon,Pa. Richard from Amish Stories.

  28. Hilary: I found myself reading novellas during the spring and fall when my time was more limited. I tend to save full length novels for the winter. It got me to thinking that as people get more and more busy, if their reading habits too haven't changed.

    Michelle: Thanks!

    Madeleine: Ref: reviewers
    No. I primarily mean book bloggers, a very important resource for an author regardless of business model.

    Susan: So glad it was useful. Thanks for letting me know.

  29. Great post! Thanks for the advice. It's definitely good information at this point in the publishing universe.

  30. Fantastic advice. I particularly like: "Do not skimp on necessary things like editing". So many writers do and it's such a mistake.

  31. Another great post, Maria. I have to admit that the thing that scares me the most is the formating. I'll definitely take your advice and pay close attention to all the instructions.

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  33. Shannon: Thank you!

    Lynda: Thorough editing is terribly important. It's the only thing I wouldn't trust myself to do alone.

    Shelley: Hate the formatting. A lot of it has to do with the instructions or how we interpret the instructions. I'd like them to be a little more specific.

  34. Hi Maria,

    Good luck with the book.

    Good article, too: professional cover image vital! Good formatting is key for return customers alongside edited text. The latter, though, not always great within novels published by the giants of publishing. I dare say mine bears scrutiny, and one man's meat another's poison. I think one can over edit too, to extent of stifling the characters or killing the plot with entrails on cutting-room floor.

    Marketing re reviews via bloggers is debatable. I've not really plugged my novella and only have two reviews on and one on, yet the novella is selling well. It's there as part experiment to test the self-pub market, and to see it read rather than left languishing on a pen-stick.

    An Amazon marketing guru recently said few book buyers return to post reviews they return to purchase more books, and the gist of what he further said: best-selling books tend to have lesser reviews than those of self-pubbed authors. Which, suggests reviews are not that important and if anything marks out a self-pubbed book from those by publishers. Something to think on, perhaps, for all self-pubbed authors.


  35. Francine: books tend to have lesser reviews than those of self-pubbed authors.

    Oh, I don't know about that. I just popped over to Amazon and looked up Diana Gabaldon. For Outlands alone, she has 1,936 reviews.

    As for the indie-published, let's not forget Amanda Hocking who claims that book bloggers put her on the map.

    Reviews are nothing more than mouthpieces. I always read reviews before I click buy, which leads me to believe they are useful to other people too.

    I think Roni from Fiction Groupie said it best in that for every bit of advice you hear there is an equal and opposite statement that proves otherwise.

    There is no magic bullet. If there was then I would happily get shot. :)

  36. I flagged this up days ago to read properly and am very glad I did! Will link back to it at some point - thanks for sharing your pain/joy... any break in the weather yet, btw?

  37. p.s. forgot to say - Hi Ellie! Thanks for inviting Maria - sorry to miss the Trekkie thang but I'm trying to be more disciplined in what I'm up to! LOL

  38. Hi Broken Biro!

    We've gone down a couple of degrees, but tomorrow we'll be breaking a record for consecutive triple digit temps. Come on, Fall!

  39. Excellent advice and lots of useful tips. Taking special note not to cheat on the formatting. I've seen a lot of complaints about this by e-book readers. Thanks Maria & Ellie!

  40. Great advice, especially about how traditional and self-published have the same requirements in terms of quality. (Editing, book cover...)

    Very enjoyable read!


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