Indie Thoughts: Resources for Indie Writers

About this time last year I got the last of my rights back to the Dark God properties. I thought it would take twenty or thirty hours to figure out the whole indie publishing thing. And then the awesome John Brown story machine would kick in gear.

Reality promptly woke me up and slapped me around a bit. This last year has been quite the learning curve. Here’s what I’ve had to pick up:

  • Designing book covers
  • Finding artists
  • Working with artists in a way that actually works
  • Copy editing
  • Formatting book interiors
  • Fonts, fonts, fonts
  • Using ISBNs
  • Using InDesign to create files for both POD books and epubs
  • eBook structure
  • Editing ebooks (okay, just get Calibre ebook editor right now. We luvs it, Precious)
  • Validating ebooks (
  • Converting epubs to Amazon’s mobi format
  • Uploading ebooks to the various ebook retailers: Amazon, NookPress, Kobo, iTunes (I upload via Draft2Digital), Smashwords
  • The pros and cons of CreateSpace vs Lightning Source
  • Using CreateSpace to publish POD books
  • Registering books with the US Copyright Office
  • Writing better book descriptions
  • Using keywords and categories on Amazon
  • Setting prices in the indie market
  • Creating an email list (I love MailChimp. They make me happy every time I go to their site)
  • Advertising and promoting as an indie

One of the things I love about this business is that there is always more to learn. But I’m happy to be over that curve. For folks just starting out, let me share some of the resources I found super helpful with a number of the things listed above.

Posts by a mega indie-seller Russell Blake to give you the right perspective about indie publishing. I’ve read a lot of posts the last few years about being an indie author. These are the best I’ve come across.

Online courses to help you on the publishing side.

  • Designing Book Covers and Designing Book Interiors with Dean Wesley Smith (look for “Online Workshops”). I don’t agree with Dean on all his ideas about pricing and promotion, but these two courses helped a great deal.
  • InDesign CS6 to EPUB, Kindle, and iPad with Anne-Marie Concepción at Awesome.

The most practical and clear-headed books about indie promotion I’ve read. For other clear-headed advice, see the Russell Blake posts above.

The most helpful book on copyright.

The most helpful book on copy editing as well as info to put into front and back matter.

Helpful threads on Kindle boards

Other great resources

Good luck!

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2 Responses to Indie Thoughts: Resources for Indie Writers

  1. John,

    Thanks for sharing this. I went through a very mini-version of your learning curve two years ago this month, when I published a couple of short stories on Amazon, and had a crash course in cover design, and formatting. There is so much more to indie publishing than that, and these resources will be a huge help to all of us taking the self-publishing path.

    I also spent more time writing short fiction and developing a serial, which I recently realized really needs to be a novel series, but that’s a subject for a different post. Suffice to say that I am now squarely focused on becoming a better novelist, and that these resources will be a huge help when my next novel is ready for prime time. Thanks again!

  2. John Brown says:


    Glad you found them useful. There is sooooo much more to this that I expected.