Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Varied Faces of Indie Pub

Squeak sacked out on her favorite furry throw. Sheer bliss.
Cassidy diverging from kneading to create a doughy heart.

Odd Political Note:

Being totally stunned by last fall's election, I did not notice how shell-shocked everyone looked until I was in the grocery store shopping for Thanksgiving dinner and saw the first smiles on people's faces since that fateful day in early November. Nobody, but nobody, expected the results of that election. And now . . . cracks are beginning to appear everywhere as reality approaches with frightening inevitablity.

During the overly long campaign for President (and since), the Op-Ed pages of the Orlando Sentinel featured columnists of two opposing opinions. Today (1/14/17) my eyes popped when I read the headline of the pro-Trump columnist: "Trump wears out welcome, and hasn't even taken office". Huh? Needless to say, I read the entire article. Although Mr. Krauthammer gets in a final punch at Barack Obama, he spent ninety percent of the column delineating all the things Trump has done wrong since winning the election. Wow! My own opinion is that we should all pray for a conversion like the one on the road to Tarsus that changed Saul to Paul.
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I have been enjoying indie publishing since 2011, but only over the past year have I had books that were exclusive to Amazon's Kindle Scout or to Kindle Direct Publishing. After struggling to comprehend the differences, and after overhearing some misinformation being passed along one day, I felt this might be a good time to share some of what I've learned over the last six years.


Yes, and yes, and yes! There is no way I can adequately express what it has meant to me since Signet shut down its traditional Regency line and put their authors "out to pasture," because hot sex was becoming all the rage in romance long before the unsuspecting public ever heard of Fifty Shades of Gray. Yes, I've enjoyed the extra income, faithfully relayed to me monthly by Amazon and quarterly by Smashwords, but the most important factor has been the outlet for my creativity, the chance to still be able to share the products of my imagination with the world.

I was helped into the world of indie publishing by Delle Jacobs, and have helped many others in turn. I cannot recommend too highly this opportunity to publish your book the way you want it, without a New York publisher's marketing department hovering anxiously, saying, "Oh no, you can't do that!" For example, the title of my first book had to be changed from Love at Your Own Risk to the bland He Said, She Said, because "risk" was not an acceptable word! The same for my first Regency for Signet - The Courtesan's Letters (wouldn't play well in the Mid-west) became the vague and inaccurate, The Indifferent Earl. Both are now online under their original titles.

So absolutely yes. Enjoy the satisfaction of writing what you want to write and getting a far larger royalty than New York will pay.

First and foremost, for all I appreciate Amazon and what it's done for my books, Mark Coker's Smashwords Style Guide remains the best introduction to indie publishing, bar none. Coker is the only techie I know who can write directions for computer that ordinary mortals can understand. Do not attempt to upload an indie book without reading the pertinent parts of his instructions. (Way, way back when I first began uploading my books to Smashwords and Amazon, I recall being amazed when Mark Coker himself answered several of my "Contact Us" questions.) 

What does Smashwords do? Exactly as the name implies. It takes your Word Doc and transforms it into all the different formats used by the various e-readers out there. Why on earth struggle to do it yourself when Smashwords will do it for you for a very modest cut of the royalty? (And no, I don't get any kickbacks for my opinion.) Smashwords and I have gone round & round on a thing or two, but in general for six long years they've done well for me. (That I upload separately to Amazon is the result of ignorance on my part when I first got started, but Amazon's record-keeping is so precise and up-to-date, I have kept the practice of uploading my books twice - once to Amazon, once to Smashwords.)  

Mark Coker's Style Guide is FREE. For a link to the Smashwords Style Guide, click here.

For more details on publishing with Smashwords, click here.


Amazon's KDP - Kindle Direct Publishing 

KDP is what I have used for all my books until the Blue Moon Rising series. As stated above, I upload to KDP, add the front page required for Smashwords and then upload there as well, which covers all the other e-book formats, including Barnes and Noble's Nook. KDP pays a 35% royalty for books under $2.99, a 70% royalty for books $2.99 & up. Their record-keeping is spectacular - you can view sales on close to an hourly basis. Payment is once a month (90 days in arrears) by direct deposit to the bank account of your choice. Their reach is world-wide - I receive royalties from Europe to Australia. For details on KDP, click here.

Amazon's Kindle Select

This is relatively new to me, but I'll try to get it correct. If you publish with Select, you are agreeing to have your book distributed exclusively by Amazon. There are privileges that go with this. Your book will be offered on Kindle's "Unlimited" program (a monthly reader subscription service). Evidently, in addition to your royalty this makes you eligible for a bonus from Amazon's Global fund (which is heavily weighted toward books that sell a lot of copies). You can also purchase Amazon advertising to enhance your other promotional efforts. For a more detailed explanation of Kindle Select, click here.
Amazon's Kindle Scout

Kindle Scout is a relatively new publishing program. You submit your book, it goes through a vetting process, and if it passes, you are asked to get readers to "nominate" your book (from a 5000-word sample). My own experience would seem to indicate that there is a certain amount of editorial selection; i.e., a book that gets the most votes might not be selected over one of better quality. If selected, the author receives that rare thing in e-publishing, an advance on royalties ($1500). You will be placed on a KS Facebook loop, where you can ask questions to your heart's content. Your book will receive a thorough but once-over editing, and a fairly decent amount of marketing after it goes live. This is a publishing option worth considering. For more details, click here.

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Never submit your book to one of those fly-by-night so-called "publishers" who e-mail you about their willingness to publish your book. Stick to the tried and true, the proven, known entities, like Amazon and Smashwords. 


My only costs for publishing my books are my cover and an ISBN number (I buy them 10 at a time from (Yes, there are freebies available, but I don't want to feel beholden to any one company.) If you are not comfortable with self-editing and formatting, or too impatient, then you may have to shell out money for those services as well. You must edit! So if you're not up to doing it yourself, add that service to your budget.


I have no experience with print books beyond my books published long ago by Signet and Kensington, plus those published by several e-publishers over the years, so I don't feel qualified to comment. I do know, however, that many use Amazon's CreateSpace. (Be careful you are not fooled by companies with a similar name.) The one with a good reputation is a branch of Amazon.] I personally have accepted the digital age and don't feel inclined to go to all the formatting work for print books that may sell only a few copies. I feel print books in a digital age are anachronistic. (Get over feeling the need!) But that's just me. Amazon's CreateSpace has a good reputation. The cost, I'm told, is minimal if you do your own formatting. But again, beware the many ill-qualified "let us print your book" scammers out there. Get recommendations from people you know before putting your baby into some unknown print publisher's hands.

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And there it is, a miniscule summary of a huge subject. I hope you find the info and links helpful.

Thanks for stopping by,



For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.

For a brochure for Grace's editing service, Best Foot Forward, click here.  


  1. Thanks for all the good information about publishing, which I'm sharing with my son-in-law, who recently published a children's book using Amazon's CreateSpace.

    I'm not with you on the low value of physical books, however. We're a multiple-Kindle family, as are our children's families, and I greatly appreciate the advantages of e-books. But that's for what I call "disposable books" (read-once, though the library is often best for that) and for especially good books that I want to have with me wherever my phone goes. And for sending book gifts overseas without paying exorbitant postage. I'm still finding value in a good, solid, well-beloved physical book. Especially for children -- I just spent over $100 to send a box of English-language children's books to Switzerland....

  2. Seriously considering self-pub for my next one. VERY helpful info, Grace!

  3. Thanks, Kerryn. And Linda, I currently have 200 books on my Kindle, with 400 more instantly available as long as WiFi is present. My Kindle is lighter, easier to hold, the pages turn faster, it opens to exactly where I left off, & I have read many of the books on it more than once. A Kindle book is available at midnight or whenever I feel the need. You could send people Kindle books electronically for nothing more than the cost of the book. I can take my Kindle on a cruise, to Europe, etc., and have 200 books available in one skinny, lightweight package. Sure, print books are lovely, but digital has far more to offer.