The Most Important Thing

storytelling by Open ClipArt Vectors on Pixabay

Credit: Open Clip Art Vector on Pixabay


There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ve made my indie publishing journey more complicated (and more expensive) than it absolutely needs to be. Plenty of people find a premade cover they love, give their book a final proofreading, upload it to Amazon, and voilà! The book is published.

And then there are people like me who also want to publish a hard copy that independent bookstores will carry. In the hope of making the book fit with all the other books on the shelf, we create micropresses to publish the books, we hire people to design covers and format interiors, and we devote untold hours to research into questions like:

  • What is metadata?
  • Is Ingram Spark a publisher or a distributor?
  • Do I need both Ingram Spark and KDP?
  • What is a wholesaler discount, and how much of one should I give bookstores?
  • How can I calculate how many pages my book will be?
  • What are front matter and back matter?
  • How do I decide the book’s price?

(I’ll answer these questions in a future post when I’ve come closer to nailing down the answers. All I can tell you now is that clearly, there’s a reason some people do this as a full-time job.)

As you can imagine, my mind has been whirling this week as I’ve grappled with these and other questions related to putting this book out into the world. Sometimes I’ve felt agitated and overwhelmed; other times, my confidence has (briefly) returned. But by the weekend, as I came closer to some of these answers, it occurred to me that I’d lost track of the biggest thing of all: the story itself.

Friday evening, I settled in on the porch with my Surface for one more edit. I opened the document and began at the beginning. I read my story. Every word. Every mark of punctuation. Every tab or indent or italic. Nothing escaped scrutiny; everything on the page was fair game. Anything could be deleted, changed, tweaked, polished it to the highest possible shine. As I cut words and adjusted formats, I remembered once more why I’m doing all this.

People may barely notice my book’s cover. They may not think twice about whether to choose the e-book or the paperback. They’re unlikely to devote much energy to the question of whether to buy the book from Amazon or the local indie bookshop. They probably won’t care about my micropress (assuming they even notice its name on the book’s spine).

What they will pay attention to is whether I’ve told them a good story. If I’m going to ask a reader to plunk down some hard-earned cash and spend several hours reading my book, I need to make it worth their while.

And so, in between all this indie publishing research, the book is undergoing a final hard edit, with every jot and tittle under scrutiny. The fact that this is my favorite part of the process just means that we all win.

If you’re following these posts because you think that maybe someday, you might want to consider publishing your book as an indie, I applaud you. I’m trying to tell you everything I’m learning so that maybe it’ll save you some time.

But the most important thing I can tell you is to write the best book you can. Your readers deserve that.

Besides, you can always Google “metadata.”

6 thoughts on “The Most Important Thing

  1. I’ll never write a novel and I’ll never have to go through all the fun you’re having, but it’s still fun to understand the process. Think of it this way. It’s a part of the day where you don’t have to think about COVID or politics, and that’s a plus right there!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hang in there, Jo. The cover is important. Until a reader picks up the book, even if there are reviews on the back, cover art is ALL the information they have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I completely agree. At least publishing on my own means I get to choose my own cover. In traditional publishing, the author’s input can be very limited. My goal this week is to hire a cover designer and start the process. (Big words on a Monday!)


  3. I agree that the cover is important. Many times I’ve picked up a book and been attracted cover (and the summary), only to find that the picture on the cover represents no part of the book. Even if I enjoyed the story, I always felt cheated somehow. This is a fascinating process you are embarked upon. Since I’m get exhausted just reading about it, I know I don’t have it in me to go down the same road, but I still love to hear about the journey. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, June!

      I know what you mean about the cover correlating to the story. One thing I’m learning is that you don’t want a cover that’s unique and artsy and interesting–you want one that meets the readers’ expectations of what this kind of book is supposed to be. Different authors have posted about how their sales jumped when they changed to a cover that was more in line with what readers want for their genre. That’s why I went cover-shopping a few weeks back–I wanted to see what’s currently on the bookshelves and what kind of cover my book needs to have to fit in there.

      I understand how you’re exhausted reading about this journey–I’m exhausted doing it. On the other hand, I’m hoping that by posting about it, maybe I can make the journey easier for somebody else who’s contemplating it. Fingers crossed!


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