Frontlist
Frontlist

Most Common New Author Questions And Their Answers

Most Common New Author Questions And Their Answers

Most Common New Author Questions And Their Answers

It happens in writers' forums everywhere between here and Farfoodle. Folks are minding their own business, when in swoops someone with a question that makes everyone's heart go out to them a little. These are the newbie questions. They are VALID questions, just really hard to answer in a comment thread.

It happens in writers' forums everywhere between here and Farfoodle. Folks are minding their own business, when in swoops someone with a question that makes everyone's heart go out to them a little. These are the newbie questions. They are VALID questions, just really hard to answer in a comment thread.

It happens in writers' forums everywhere between here and Farfoodle. Folks are minding their own business, when in swoops someone with a question that makes everyone's heart go out to them a little. These are the newbie questions. They are VALID questions, just really hard to answer in a comment thread.

Type 1: The Big Ask

Indie authors are a fabulous group. They’re super collaborative, willing to help each other out, and are generally lovely folk. But they are also busy folk. They’re more than happy to jump in and help answer questions, but there’s a limit to how much time and energy they can put into every question that scrolls past their feed.

The more generic the question, the longer it takes to answer. Which means, the less chance you have of getting your question answered. What does a Big Ask question look like? Let’s take a gander:

  1. How do I get a book published?

  2. How do I market a book?

  3. Can someone walk me through the self-publishing steps?

They’re not bad questions. In fact, they are excellent questions. They’re just too much for any one person to answer in the comment thread. There are entire books written on these topics. Folks take whole courses, and sometimes even seek out coaching, to learn the answers to these questions. 

Bless their souls, there are authors who have come up with short-ish replies to these questions, but they are more like polite invitations meant to guide you to, well, go off and learn the basics. 

To help you get started, here are some such answers.

How do I get a book published?

You have a couple of options: you can either try to get a traditional publisher to publish your book, or you can do it yourself. I've made a traditional vs self-publishing flowchart to help you decide.

For the traditional route, you usually have to first get an agent, who in turn tries to get you a publishing deal. It can be a long process, and you’re not guaranteed to ever get published.

In the latter case, you would become a self-published author, sometimes known as an indie author (indie short for independent, as in, not attached to a traditional publisher).

Here are some resources where you can learn more about self-publishing avenue:

How do I market a book?

This one’s a doozy. There is so much information on this topic that it can be an overload. That said, I’d still refer you back to a couple of folks mentioned above. In particular:

Can someone walk me through the self-publishing steps?

Shameless plug: there’s an app for that. In addition to the resources above, check out Frontlist which is an app that walks you through the entire book launch process from “I have a book idea” to “my book is launched and people know about it.” 

Sidebar: If you'd like help with planning out a book launch timeline, download our free calculator here.

Type 2: The Corner-Cutter

One of the things that an indie author has to fight against is the stigma that self-published books are of lower quality. There are entire organizations, like Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) and Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), which exist to raise the bar for independent publishing. So when someone swoops into a forum, and the first thing they ask is how to cut corners, folks get twitchy. Here are some examples:

  1. Can I design my cover in Canva?

  2. Anyone know a cheap illustrator? I have no budget.

  3. Do I really need to pay for editing? It’s so expensive!

Look, there’s nothing wrong with a little DIY, after all, we’re all here DIYing the entire publishing process. But as a respectable indie author, accept that you need to pay for professional editing, illustrations, and cover designs.

The only exception to that would be if, in your other job, you are a professional editor, illustrator or cover designer. Then you have permission to DIY that particular aspect. Also, I’m jealous! I wish I had any of those skills.

But I digress. Let’s take a look at the answers:

Can I design my cover in Canva?

No. If you’re not a professional cover designer, then you should hire one. If you are a professional designer, then you likely have more appropriate tools at your disposal such as Adobe InDesign or Affinity Publisher.

Anyone know a cheap illustrator? I have no budget.

You get what you pay for. And if you have no budget, then you will not get quality work.

If you really need an illustrator and can’t afford to pay one up front, then you should look into a royalty share agreement. Warning, though, these deals are hard to get, especially for a first-time author with no revenue track record.

Do I really need to pay for editing? It’s so expensive!

Yes. But not always all of it.

Type 3: The Just-Google-It

If the Big Ask questions are too broad, the Just-Google-It questions are too specific. Instead of asking, you should just, well, google it. The answers to these questions are usually so clear cut that a single search will turn up your answer.

There are so many of these questions that it would be impossible to list them all. So how can you tell if your question falls under this category? Google it! If you get your answer, great. You’re done. If not, then it’s probably a good one to pose to the community.

Examples:

  • What is Amazon A+ Content?

  • Where can I buy an ISBN?

  • What is CMYK?

I’m not going to provide answers to these questions, though. You know what to do.

About the Author

Tara Kelly left a cushy Silicon Valley job to pursue writing. Since then, she’s published a book on UX design, as well as seven children’s picture books under the pen name Kelly Tills where she tackles topics like neurodiversity, gender, and why you shouldn’t steal bananas from a monkey. Tara is the co-founder and CEO of Frontlist.io where she helps other indie authors launch their books on their own, and without falling prey to the predatory underbelly of the author services industry.

Get An Email When The App Is Ready

© 2023, Frontlist. All rights reserved. Privacy - Terms - Contact