Some News You Can Use

Today it was my absolute pleasure to lead a session on indie publishing at my fabulous university. Called Small Talk, Big Ideas, University of Houston-Clear Lake held a networking breakfast and invited me to host a table. Below is the handout given to my participants. Hope it is helpful.

In the Company of Walt, Beatrix and Benjamin:

Indie Publishing Then and Now

An informative session prepared by indie author

Dorothy Hagan


Today we will explore the publishing world in transition from the traditional/legacy process to the exponentially exploding world of indie publishing. We will discover the indie authors, blogs, publishers, book sellers and experts in the field. Come and find out if indie publishing is the route for you to share your gifts with humanity.

Author Bio

My name is Dorothy Smith Hagan. I am a former merchant mariner, and currently a teacher and author. I received a BA in the Humanities from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. I indie published The Edge of the Grace Period in 2000, and have recently published a companion novel, The Offshore Triumphs of Karla Jean, 2012. Currently, I teach GED and ESL classes to adults. I am passionate about helping others achieve their goals, whether they are literary, academic or otherwise. Originally from the intoxicating hills of Pennsylvania, I now live in the warm cuddliness of suburban Houston.


Once upon a time, in 1996, Dorothy Hagan finished her first novel. Immediately, she shared what she whole-heartedly believed was the brightest literary genius since Gone with the Flipping Wind. Soon but not soon enough, she learned in wonderment about little things like the critical importance of editing, face-saving critique partners and that constant nemesis called professional rejection. After hundreds of rejections and five short years of industry angst, she ponied up $600 and self-published her first novel using POD technology. She is now enjoying what they call in the business an HEA. Yes, she’s living happily ever after. Rich no, happy…quite.

  1. Important definitions regarding publishing:

Traditional, Big Six (HarperCollins, Random House, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Macmillan), Legacy has over time become

Vanity, Self-Publish, Indie

Two kinds of indie publishing:

POD: From Wikipedia “Print on demand (POD), sometimes called, in error, publish on demand, is a printing technology and business process in which new copies of a book (or other document) are not printed until an order has been received (which means books can be printed one at a time). “Print on Demand” developed only after digital printing began,[1] because it was not economical to print single copies using traditional printing technology such as letterpress and offset printing.”

Ebook: From Wikipedia “An electronic book (variously, e-book, ebook, digital book) is a book-length publication in digital form, consisting of text, images, or both, and produced on, published through, and readable on computers or other electronic devices.[1] Sometimes the equivalent of a conventional printed book, e-books can also be born digital.”

Indie Authors of Old:

Beatrix Potter, Walt Whitman, James Joyce, John Grisham, Gertrude Stein, Zane Grey, Upton Sinclair, Mark Twain, Ezra Pound, Virginia Wolff

The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White

Indie Authors of Late:

Amanda Hocking:

J.A. Konrath:

Victorine Lieski:

David Dalglish:

Aprill Hamilton:

James Altucher:

  1. 5.    Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing: Pros and Cons

Comprehensive discussions of this found at: and


Pros: control over content, control over time table, control over rights, no rejection


Financial investment, on your own, legitimacy curve



Advances, marketing and promotion, industry acceptance, newspaper reviews


May never get published, required to perform to contract, still required to do massive editing yourself, little marketing help, still no certainty of presence in bookstores

  1. 6.    During the process of writing:

Use Word files, format and punctuate correctly, no weird, fancy stuff

Be consistent as you word process. For example tabs and hard returns should be used the same way throughout the manuscript.

Critique partners are an absolute necessity. Find some.

Possible strategy if manuscript is a real mess: Re-type entire book during the pre-publication/revision process. This will fix a multitude of errors.

What can you publish? Just about anything. See FAQ at as one example. Fiction and non-fiction should have 10,000 words minimum. Poetry books should contain at least 20 poems. Compilations of novellas, short stories, poetry are possible.

  1. 7.    Indie publishing range of costs:

Publish to Kindle Direct Publishing for free, also publish ebooks to Smashwords for free, Begin around $600.00 for POD with IUniverse, other potential expenses include copy-editing and seller’s return policies

  1. Indie publishing companies: Author Solutions, Inc. IUniverse, Lulu, Xlibris, Kindle Direct Publishing, there are many more and more emerging every day. I have published two books with IUniverse and am very, very pleased on all levels.
  2. Book Sellers:

Brick and mortar like Barnes & Noble, all online retailers like Amazon, dozens of hits on Google.

  1. 10.  The Absolute Worst “A” Word Ever:  A M A T E U R

The biggest, most constant criticism of indie publishers is inferior composition of their literary work. Poor grammar, punctuation and sentence structure are the most obvious. Those in the industry, traditional and indie alike, will take one look at your book and push it aside if these amateur mistakes scream out. Writing is a craft. It is an art. It is, in fact, a professional undertaking. Give it your absolute 100% best effort.

The Absolute Be-All and End-All to take away from this session… for the sake of indie legacy and yours, NEVER allow yourself to be dismissed as an industry amateur. Publish like a professional or not at all!


  1. 11.  Videos, blogs, articles and websites:

My personal favorite author’s blog is Boxing the Octopus.  The authors are first-rate, profoundly experienced, and their archives contain just about every subject you could imagine. Visit them at

Other helpful sites:,,,,

Ask yourself, do you have a story that needs telling? Or do you know someone who does? Indie publishing may be the vehicle to share your gifts with humanity.

Thanks for joining me today. Hope it was helpful! Please join me for a book signing and Powerpoint presentation right here at UHCL on Tuesday, May 8, 2012, from 6:30-8:30. Fun, informative, free event! Tell your friends!