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Publetariat Dispatch: Indie Author – THE GAME

Publetariat: For People Who Publish!
In today’s Publetariat Dispatch, author Melissa Conway shares a bit of humor about the indie author life.

Roll the dice. Move your token. Play the game everyone with a word  processing program is playing! Learn as you go, because the rules change  as fast as the publishing industry!

Land on the Goodreads square: Whoop! Whoop! Warning, Warning. Author  approaching forum. Use extreme caution. Do not engage the indigenous  readers in conversation about your book. Severe consequences will  result! Move ahead one space.

Land on the Librarything square: Enter your ebook in the Member Giveaway  program, where readers can get a free copy of your book in exchange for  a review. Discover that ‘winners’ of Member Giveaway books are chosen  at random, unlike the traditionally published books given away in the  Early Reviewer program, where Librarything uses a complicated algorithm  to ensure good placement. Give away fifty free ebooks, get two reviews  and be thankful you got any!

Draw a Book Review card: Three Stars! A quick check on this person’s  other reviews shows s/he is historically stingy with stars. You’re  pathetically grateful s/he gave you the “It was okay”  thumbs-unenthusiastically-up. Move ahead one space.

Land on the Publicity square: You’ve just been asked to appear on an  unscripted podcast/internet radio talk show with an aggressive host, so  polish your smile and prepare to field random questions LIVE on the  internet in direct opposition to the introverted nature that made you a  writer in the first place!

Draw an Expense card: You blow tons of money on video editing software  that comes with a user’s manual written for a much earlier version. Then  you spend weeks slaving to make a decent book trailer. After uploading  to YouTube, you get seventeen views, two disgustingly profane comments  (before you figure out how to change the settings to allow comments only  with approval), and an anonymous thumbs-down. Go back three spaces.

Land on the Book Promotion square: Your endless marketing efforts have  sucked every last drop of joy out of the thought of writing another book  and your muse is actively trying to convince you to take up pottery. Go  back three spaces.

Land on the Amazon Discussion square: Whoop! Whoop! Warning, Warning.  You stumble into an Amazon Discussion titled ‘Badly Behaving Authors’  and are horrified at how much venom is directed your way. Leave with  your tail tucked firmly between your legs and seriously consider  changing your user name. Lose a turn.

Land on the ‘I Used to Enjoy Reading’ square: Your swaying TBR (To Be  Read) pile is stacked a mile high with other indie authors’ books. You  owe so many reads it will take you until the year 2525 to fulfill your  obligation. Go back five spaces.

Land on the Facebook square: You are among friends of your own choosing,  many of them indie authors like yourself. You may relax and spread the  joy by clicking ‘like’ on other authors’ posts about their books. You  may enjoy the steady stream of inspirational and funny pictures…until,  that is, your former best friend begins tagging you in a series of  embarrassing photos from your ‘wild’ days and your dad, who never  learned that all-caps is shouting, posts a LOUD admonishment on your  wall that you never call him. Bye-bye professionalism! Go back two  spaces.

Land on the Twitter square: Welcome to the Land of Spam, where the one  who dies with the most followers wins! Here, indie authors are free to  spam each other to our hearts’ content. Make your followers happy and  retweet their spam – they’ll return the favor and retweet yours! Spam it  up! Nobody cares because with thousands of followers, we’d have to  spend 24/7 reading tweets to keep up! Whee!

Land on the Family square: Of all your family members, the only one who  bothers to read your book is ‘No-holds Barred’ Aunt Fanny, who promptly  reviews it on Amazon and tells the world that funny story about how you  lost your bikini bottoms while waterskiing on the Sacramento River. What  a cute butt you had! Go back one space.

Land on the Kindle Forum square: Whoop! Whoop! Warning, Warning. You  start a forum thread offering to swap reviews with other authors. Within  12.3 seconds, you have seven responses from the established forum  cronies advising you that what you are proposing is sleazy and  unethical. Leave with your tail tucked firmly between your legs and  request from the forum administrator that your account be deleted. Lose a  turn.

Draw an Expense card: You splurge for a portrait at the local J.C. Penny  that makes you look like a refugee from an eighties Glamour Shot. In  desperate need of an author headshot, you break out your ancient  point-and-shoot and, ignoring the burning pain of holding your arm out  straight for three hours, take exactly four hundred and twelve photos  until you get one where both eyes are open the same width and your nose  doesn’t look like it belongs on Mr. Ed.

Land on the Royalty square: You receive your first email from Amazon  with your royalty statement. Take the family to McDonald’s in  celebration, but restrict them to the dollar menu. Advance token to the  Taxes square.

Land on the Taxes square: The IRS gleefully adds insult to injury by  taxing your meager royalties. Enter the data into Turbotax and watch in  horror as the extra income pushes you into a higher tax bracket. Attempt  to conceal the information from your spouse, who always knew no good  could come of this crazy author venture. Go back one space.

Draw a Book Review card: Two Stars! This reviewer got the book for free  and admits to only reading the first chapter. S/he claims to not be in  the habit of reviewing books s/he ‘couldn’t finish,’ but s/he  immediately hated your flawed heroine and brilliantly deduced how the  story would end anyway. S/he would have given it one star, but doesn’t  like to be cruel. Go back three spaces.

Land on the Blog square: You’ve been blogging for years already, but  have to go through and read all your old posts to clean out the ones in  which you are ranting, raving, revealing TMI about yourself or your  family, or otherwise coming across as unprofessional. From this point on  your blog posts are strictly limited to discussion about books,  writing, and the ‘author experience’ – just like all the other indie  authors out there. Your followers, all six of them, don’t notice the  changes.

Draw an Expense card: You purchase the cheapest drag-and-drop website  design software on the market and begin the frustrating job of learning  how to use it to create an author website. The user’s manual has been  badly translated from some foreign language, but you eventually cobble  together a somewhat professional-looking site. Advance token to the  Domain square.

Land on the Domain square: Your dot com name is already taken, so you  are forced to choose from an embarrassing dot net, dot org or dot biz.  Once you own your spanking new domain, you begin to wade through the  incomprehensible world of GoDaddy. You upload your site into the ether a  dozen times before locating the problem on an obscure user’s forum  thread. Yay, your site is finally live! Begin checking the site stats  every day, several times a day. Be impressed at how many visitors you’ve  gotten – until you find out what ‘spiders’ and ‘bots’ are. Move ahead  one space.

Land on the Pirate square: Ahoy, Matey! You are happily Googling around  to see where your ebook has been mentioned on the interwebs when you  find that it is available, for free, on a site called Zippyshare. After  you finish freaking out, you contact the site and accuse them of  copyright violation. They quickly respond back that your book has been  removed from their site, but you find it elsewhere, too – on sites that  are using it as bait to get people to download it – but anyone who does  will also be getting a nasty case of computer herpes! You struggle to  reconcile your hatred for hackers who create viruses with your glee at  the thought that there’s Karma out there for those who steal your book.  You are at an impasse. Arrrr. Advance token one square anyway.

Land on the Formatting (alternate name: Author Hell) square: You spend  three unwashed days in front of your monitor obsessed with figuring out  how to format your manuscript to Smashwords and Kindle specifications.  Several times you consider throwing the entire PC out the window. By the  time you’ve uploaded and all seems right in the world, your family has  taken to tip-toeing and whispering and you have several mounds of  tear-stained tissues littering the floor around you. Move your token to  the Upload square.

Land on the Upload square: Three days after uploading to Kindle, a  writer friend contacts you with a long list of typos s/he spotted in  your book. After suffering a debilitating anxiety attack, you fix the  errors and reupload. You find yourself glad no one bought your book.   Lose two turns.

Draw a Book Review card: One Star! Oh NOES! This reviewer did not read  the book at all, but thinks since you are an indie author all your  five-star reviews must be fake, so s/he wants to even the playing field  by lowering your book’s overall stars.

Land on the Book Blurb space: A blood pressure spike sends you to the ER  after several days spent attempting to write the perfect book blurb. Go  back four spaces.

Draw an Expense card: You create an ad for your book and buy space on a  popular reader’s site, among thousands of other  so-tiny-you-can-barely-read-them authors’ ads. After two weeks, you’ve  only received five accidental ‘clicks.’ Go back two spaces.

Draw a Book Review card: Four Stars! And from a stranger who paid actual  money for your book without you having to beg them to buy it. Skip  ahead two spaces.

Land on the Amazon square: You browse the Indie Book store looking for  your book only to discover Amazon has limited the Indie Book store to  only the first thirty best-selling (which does not mean ‘best’)  self-published books. When you attempt to browse Amazon book categories,  you give up after six hours of clicking through 7,000 pages. Your  stomach begins to produce excess acid as the realization sinks in that  the only way someone will find your book on Amazon is for them to use a  direct link. Go back two spaces.

Land on the Author Interview square: Bloggers love author interviews  because not only do you do all the work answering their list of  questions, they don’t have to actually read your book. Plus, they get  free content for their blog! Go ahead one space.

Land on the Book Blogger square: After three days of searching through  blog after blog with big, bold “I DO NOT REVIEW SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS,”  in the review policy, you finally find a blog that does! Too bad they  only have three followers. Go back two spaces.

Draw a Book Review card: Five Stars! Too bad it’s from a coworker who  admits to knowing you in the review. Here come the downvotes!

Draw an Expense card: Advance token to the Book Cover square.

Land on the Book Cover square: You’re no artist, but paying one to make  your cover is out of the question, so you fire up the old photo editing  software that came with your computer and begin the process of bringing  your vision to life. You buy a cheap, royalty-free photo online and  settle on a font that conveys the genre without being overbearing. Yay,  your cover is complete and looks pretty good if you do say so yourself!  The first book review you get calls it, “Hideously amateurish.” Go back  two spaces.

Draw an Expense card: Your vision of the perfect book trailer includes  music from your favorite band – but you can’t afford that and wouldn’t  dream of using another artist’s work without permission, so you find a  website that sells music from the public domain. Your choices range from  scratchy old recordings of Amazing Grace to Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.  In the end, you find a royalty free music site and pay for a 15-second  clip that you loop in the background and hope no one notices. Go ahead  one space.

Draw a Book Review card: Five Stars! From a stranger who raved about it  and posted their review on their blog as well as Amazon, Goodreads and  Libarything! THIS is why you decided to self-publish. Skip ahead to the  end of the game.


This post, by Melissa Conway, originally appeared on her Whimsilly blog and is reprinted here in its entirety with her permission.


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