With the new year and new goals, it seemed like a good time to put together a list of resources for those of you looking into indie publishing. This is far from an exhaustive list, but it gathers all of the resources that I’ve used (as well as a couple I haven’t). Feel free to drop your additions to the list in the comments if you’ve found great self-publishing tools yourself!
*Links marked with an asterisk are affiliate links, meaning I earn a small commission on purchases made through them at no extra cost to you.
Blog Posts & Online Articles
Indie Publishing 101: Traditional vs. Independent Publishing – Scribes & Archers
Indie Publishing 101: What Does it Really Take? – Scribes & Archers
Indie Publishing 101: Non-negotiables (and what you can get away without) – Scribes & Archers
Indie Publishing 101: What NOT to Do – Scribes & Archers
Why to Invest in Developmental Edits – Scribes & Archers
Why to Invest in Line Edits – Scribes & Archers
Why to Invest in Copy-Edits – Scribes & Archers
Author Career Investments You Should Be Making – Scribes & Archers
More Author Career Investments You Should Be Making – Scribes & Archers
Building Your Community as an Author – Scribes & Archers
How to Write a Back Cover Copy for Your Book – Go Teen Writers (I pull this up every time I need to write a book blurb!)
Average Industry Rates for Email as of September 2023 – Constant Contact
The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen
The Business of Being a Writer* by Jane Friedman (This book has a heavy emphasis on traditional publishing rather than indie publishing, but still has a lot of good info)
The Extroverted Writer* by Amanda Luedeke
Platform* by Michael Hyatt
How to Market a Book* by Joanna Penn
Editors & Service Providers
Jane Maree – Developmental editing, line editing, and proofreading. I worked with Jane on Calligraphy Guild and I suspect she’s a better fit for faster-paced works, but her overall editorial skill is solid (especially when it comes to grammar and proofreading).
R.M. Archer – Line editing with add-on technical edits (copy-edits and proofreads). I specialize in speculative fiction but accept most genres on a case-by-case basis.
Claire Tucker – Line editing, copy-editing, and proofreading
Hope Ann – Line editor and prose coach
Emma Flournoy – Proofreading
Kristianne Hassman – Virtual assistant
Naomi Sowell – Virtual assistant
Covers & Formatting
This is where I got my Calligraphy Guild cover from Alli May, as well as the artwork I used for one of my bookmarks which was designed by RavenFire. The 99designs model–setting up a query with some information about the book and my general ideas for the cover, then letting artists submit designs–worked really well for me, but you can also work with artists on the platform directly if you know exactly what you’re looking for.
99designs also offers interior formatting, though I don’t have any personal experience with that branch of their services yet.
If you need to convert your book to .epub or .mobi for ARC readers or direct customers, this tool works well. Ebook conversion is always a little bit awkward, but Any eBook Converter has made it the least awkward out of anything I’ve used thus far.
Publishing & Sales Platforms
This is what I’ve ended up using for all of my books so far, for printing as well as most of my distribution. It’s simple to use and there isn’t a lot of overhead for the platform itself; they do, however, take a 40% royalty off of sales (a rate which has increased recently).
Their paperbacks are solid quality and their ebook conversion is fairly reliable. They have a new hardcover option that I haven’t used yet because the only option currently available is for laminate hardcovers (no dust jacket; the cover is printed directly on the book). Some covers look good on a laminate hardcover; I just don’t like the look for any of my currently published works.
Pre-order services are only available for ebooks right now; there is no option to put hard copies up for pre-order.
Amazon’s customer service is pretty hit-or-miss (I can’t remember if I’ve had to interact with them for KDP, specifically), but their informational database usually communicates clearly and is a helpful resource.
I tried using IngramSpark for Calligraphy Guild because it enables you to put hard copies up for pre-order. I didn’t get very far because their initial upload cost was expensive ($50/book) and the actual upload process was a headache; the very precise file requirements were complicated to accommodate, and I didn’t personally find the cost (in time and money) worth it. The upload cost has since been removed; I’m not sure if the upload process has gotten any smoother in the years since I tried using Ingram.
IngramSpark does allow you to create a nice hardcover with a dust jacket, but their website doesn’t do a good job of displaying what options are available so I’m not sure what exactly they offer as far as hardcover design. On the clarity point, you can find answers to your questions on the IngramSpark website if you know what to ask, but their base navigation goes in circles and it’s hard to find things like their profit gauge or what formats they offer from their main page. I haven’t worked with their customer service; hopefully the communication is clearer there.
It’s also important to note that IngramSpark focuses on wholesale for bookstores and libraries rather than direct sales to readers, so you’ll make a lower profit when you factor in the recommended bulk-order discount for those retailers, but you’ll likely have a better chance of reaching those retailers than through Amazon alone (and, ideally, those retailers will buy in bulk, thus bumping up your profit through quantity). That said, KDP still seems to be the best option for sales directly to readers (and the print cost is a little higher with IngramSpark vs. KDP, so KDP is still your best bet if you want to print your books for direct sale through your website, as well).
Vervante has tons of paperback printing options, from everyday novel paperbacks to notebooks and the like. They can even do covers with gold foiling! Their customer service is great, and they’re great if you want a really independent option. The catch is… they’re really expensive. Paperback copies of Calligraphy Guild would have cost me almost $22 each if I’d gone with Vervante, versus the $5.52 printing cost through KDP. For myself currently, Vervante is only an option in my mind for special edition printings.
This is the tool I use for my website shop, and thus far I’ve only had trouble with it once (which was a problem with the order in which I updated my plugins, not a problem with the platform itself). If you want to distribute independently, WooCommerce is a great tool for doing so.
For acquiring your own ISBNs (versus having an ISBN generated for your book by Amazon), ISBN Services is a good, affordable option. If you’re using a printing service other than KDP, having your own ISBN is a necessity.
Online Marketing Resources
Coursera* – Online college course catalogue
Passive Income Superstars – Marketing blog and newsletter
GotPrint – Bookmarks, business cards, etc.
VistaPrint – Business cards, etc.
Buffer – Social media scheduling
MailerLite* – Newsletter platform. (Side note: Leaving Mailchimp for MailerLite was one of the best decisions I’ve made for my business.)
Interested in a checklist for the self-publishing process? Sign up to the Scribes & Archers mailing list to get access to my freshly updated self-publishing checklist!