I've had friends and acquaintances ask me about my indie publishing and how (and if) they should indie publish. I'm always happy to help and tell what I've learned, but I tend to worry that I'm forgetting something. So, I decided I would make a series of blog posts on what I do to indie publish. It's been a learning process as I've gone along and I'm still very much in the learning phase so please don't take anything I say as gospel. Use what you will and be sure to explore and learn some on your own as well.
Okay, step one, do you want to indie publish?
Honestly, with the climate today, early 2012, I can't imagine a reason not to indie publish. Does this mean you're giving up on your goal to be traditionally published? No. It means you are playing both sides of the fence. You can continue to send out submissions to the traditional markets while you indie publish other pieces. There are also writers who have no desire to traditionally publish and only want to indie publish.
What can I indie publish?
Whatever you want that you have the current rights to. Articles, short stories, short story collections, poetry collections, novellas, novels, nonfiction books, etc.
How do I indie publish?
This question I'll answer in stages. Stage 1. The easiest and most efficient ways to self publish are to do it yourself through KDP, PubIt, and Smashwords.
KDP is Amazon's digital self-publishing platform. There are no upfront costs. https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin
PubIt is Barnes and Noble's digital self-publishing platform. There are no upfront costs. http://pubit.barnesandnoble.com/pubit_app/bn?t=pi_reg_home
Smashwords is an independent company which will distribute your digital content to Apple, Sony, Kobo, and Diesel. There are no upfront costs. http://www.smashwords.com/
Sign up and start accounts with all three. You'll notice Smashwords also distributes to B&N, but you get better royalty rates by going directly through PubIt. Very much worth the extra time to set up the account and upload. You'll need to provide your banking information - to get paid. And your social security number - for tax purposes. You can also put in your publisher name - you are your own publisher - pick a name it looks more professional. If you are going to publish under several pen name you should set up a publisher account with Smashwords; if you're only publishing under one name a regular account is fine.
There are other e-retailers you can directly upload to sell your books. It is up to you who sign up with. Amazon, B&N, and the retailers Smashwords sends you to are the big guns. Just make sure there aren't any upfront costs with any e-retailer. A retailer should only take a cut when you sell a book. You can also go directly to Apple and Kobo (I've been told), but I've also been told there are more hoops to jump through. Though rumor has it that Apple is going to debut a new self-publishing platform soon.
For writers outside the US, Smashwords does require you have a PayPal account to sign up if you are not a US resident. If you don't want a PayPal account, there are some other companies who also distribute to Apple and other e-retailers, just make sure they don't charge you up front fees.The following article lists aggregators which distribute to Apple including two outside the US - http://www.tuaw.com/2012/01/05/how-apple-ibooks-needs-to-compete-with-amazon-better-author-too/.
ADDED: It is my understanding that PubIt! is not allowing non-US writers to use their service. I would check when you go to publish as this could change - if it has please let me know. But if that is the case you can get your books in via Smashwords (you can check the other aggregators to see if they distribute to B&N) - the royalties are less, but you don't want to leave out a major bookseller like B&N.
Next step in Part 2 of Fun With Indie Publishing...