When I first started down the road to self-publishing, I didn’t even know all of the nuances of the process I didn’t understand. After seeing his book Gunmetal Gods on Daniel Greene’s YouTube channel, I reached out to Zamil. He immediately responded with a heartfelt answer to my broad questions and laid out the invitation for me to continue asking questions when they came up. I tried not to abuse his generosity, but you would have to ask him if he regrets the open door.
Over the last few months, Zamil’s star has been on the rise as more and more readers have found his books. Recently announced as a SPFBO semi-finalist for Lightblade, Zamil is in the middle of two series: Gunmetal Gods and Lightblade. He is a amazing member of this community and agreed to share some of is thoughts with me about the self-publishing process.
Q: First-off, can you tell us about your projects. How many books have you published, what are they, and where can people find them?
I have two ongoing series, Gunmetal Gods, a dark fantasy with cosmic horror elements, and Lightblade, a science-fantasy with progression elements. You can learn more at ZamilAkhtar.com.
Q: There are many different types of editing, all of which can be very expensive, especially in genres known for their high word counts. What kind(s) of editing did you invest in? How did you find your editor? Have you had positive experiences?
My current editor is someone I met on Twitter. I’ve had very positive experiences working with editors. You want to have the same editorial standards as a quality traditionally published book, so it’s important to do developmental and line editing, as well as proofreading.
Q: Self-publishing only works if people know where to find your work. How did you build your online presence (social media, website)? Which platform(s) do you focus most of your attention on?
I’ve tried to build a presence on all the platforms, but I use Twitter the most. Sharing content and commenting on other people’s content is generally how you grow on social media. There is no other way.
Q: It has been said over and over, deciding to self-publish is deciding to become a business owner. Did you start a legal business to manage taxes? Did you open up a P.O. box or setup any other resources to manage your business?
No, I didn’t take any such steps.
Q: The cover is always the first thing people see, and it can be a major cost for indie authors. How did you go about choosing an artist? Did you have to hire a separate cover designer? Did you commission any character art and how did you use it? Did you commission a map or any other additional pieces of art?
I use an agency called Miblart to create my covers. I’ve also hired artists from ArtStation to do character art. The maps I usually do myself with Wonderdraft.
Q: How did you go about formatting and producing your ebooks, paperbacks, and, if you have them, hardcovers? What company or companies print/sell your books? Why did you choose to publish through the platforms you chose?
I use Vellum for all formatting. My POD (print-on-demand) books are all done through Amazon or IngramSpark.
Q: One of the keys to get readers is to work with reviewers. Can you describe the process of making and sending out Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs)? How did you connect with reviewers? Would you suggest investing money in sending out physical ARCs or stick with eARCs?
I only use eARCs. Generally I find reviewers on Twitter. They are usually people I have some relationship with already. Early on, I used different services to distribute ARCs, but I did not have a good experience. I definitely advise that people network to find reviewers rather than just toss their book to different review services.
Q: Everything writers do to create their books can rack up quite an expensive budget. Did you invest in any paid blog tours, cover reveals, or paid reviews?
No, I did none of these things.
Q: Most indie authors don’t have the ability to produce audiobooks, especially during the initial release of their books. How did you produce your audiobooks? If you worked with a production company who distributes your audiobook and pays you in royalties, how much control did you have over the production?
Podium purchased the rights to all my audiobooks. They generally have full control over the production,with only minimal input from me.
Q: Pricing for indie books has quite a range. How much did you originally price your books for? Would you have taken a different strategy if you could do it over again? Do you ever have sales and/or free book giveaways?
I do a lot of 99 cent sales but I rarely do free book giveaways. Generally, pricing between $2.99 and $4.99 is the way to go. You can price higher if your sub-genre is in high demand or you have an established name.
Q: The big question for a lot of authors considering self-publishing, especially those on a tighter budget, is how much will it cost? How much did you spend on your debut novel?
Somewhere around $3000.
Q: Where can readers find you and your books? Can you tell us about your latest and/or upcoming release?
All my books are for sale on Amazon. At the moment, I’m working on Gunmetal Gods Book 3, for release early 2023.
Visit Zamil’s page on Amazon to find his books.
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