An Inside Look at Indies Unlimited

Author K.S. Brooks
IU Admin & Award-Winning Author K.S. Brooks

As a newbie here at IU, I’ve developed a list of questions over the past few weeks. I had a virtual sit-down with the woman in charge to quench my curiosity about dealings with authors, feedback about their books, and how it feels to be constantly paying it forward. The answers surprised and disappointed me a little. I convinced Ms. Brooks to publish my findings as an interview, because I thought others might have the same questions, and might have drawn the same assumptions I had.

Kyle: IU gets hundreds of emails from authors. I know I only coordinate a small number of them, so that means you are doing the rest, which must take up a monumental amount of time. Why do you do this when you could be spending your time writing?

K. S. “Kat” Brooks, IU Admin: Honestly? Some days I ask myself the same question. But I do it for that email that gushes with thanks for showing an author a better way to do something, or for finding a mistake, in their book or book’s purchase page, that they didn’t know was there.

Kyle: How many hours do you spend working on IU-related stuff?

Kat: About 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

Kyle: That doesn’t really leave much time for anything else, like writing, promoting your books, or a paying job. Do you make any money from the IU site?

Kat: No, I don’t. And the Evil Mastermind and I have been using our own money to cover blog expenses. We don’t want to charge authors to be a part of the site. We want authors to be able to come here, for free, and find the information they need. Don’t get me wrong, we have had some very generous donations from a few authors which have helped, and some of the minions were wonderful enough to pitch in to cover some of the costs for the upgrade to a new server last fall. We are extremely grateful for those generous gestures.

Kyle: So – IU costs you money to run?

Kat: Yes.

Kyle: Okay then. (Crossing aspirations to form a mutiny to rule IU off my list of goals.) But all these authors you help – they must have asked about and purchased your books, right? They made some kind of an effort to get to know you better?

Kat: No. I can literally think of two authors, during the querying process, who have asked what I write. I know for a fact one of them purchased a book. I’m not certain about the other.

Kyle: So your job is pretty thankless, then.

Kat: That depends on how you look at it. I’ve met some wonderful people because of IU – people who I now consider my friends, who go the extra mile to share my book promotions whenever I have the time to run them. They beta and ARC read for me, and are there for moral support. You can’t put a price on that.

Kyle: That’s good to know. Now, about the vetting process: it seems to me we reject more books than we accept.

Kat: That’s correct. I’d say we reject about 60% of the books submitted. About 50% of those are rejected in the first round because of the cover. The other 50% are usually rejected in the second round because of the book description. Of course, to clarify, as you know, we don’t just flat-out reject. We always include input as to how the person can enhance their book to make it pass the vetting process.

Kyle: I’ve noticed that some of the book descriptions just need to fix some typos or change a sentence or two – which seems like a really easy thing to do. Yet, I never see those books come through again. Why do you think that is?

Kat: I really couldn’t tell you. I don’t understand why an author wouldn’t take the opportunity to make their book description the best it could be – especially if it only needs a tweak.

Kyle: Do you get frustrated when authors don’t take the vetting committee’s advice?

Kat: That depends on my mood. If I’m in a sour mood, then I look at the amount of time the committee is dedicating to help the author, and it annoys me that the author disregards the input. Sometimes as many as seven or eight people have looked at the book – so that’s a pretty large investment in time on our part – and we ask for nothing in return. If I’m in a good mood, I shrug, and look at each critique as a learning experience.

Kyle: Recently, Martin Crosbie wrote an article about what reviewers want – and it seems like the reviewers hit with precision on the committee’s focuses. Did that give you some satisfaction?

Kat: Actually, it did. And there was a post by a reader, recently, called Whoops! Your Indie is Showing, that reflected the same sentiments. (One person even thought I might have written it.) But it’s one of those things, you know – when you tell your significant other that his shirt is on fire, he gives you the brush off – but if one of the guys at work tells him that, then it must be true. As long as authors get the point, and it inspires them to make their work more professional, it doesn’t really matter where they got that jolt.

Kyle: You haven’t actually set someone’s shirt on fire, have you?

Kat: No. Burning flesh smells awful – but not as bad as burning hair.

Kyle: I don’t even want to know how you know that. Anyway, before I started here, were there any authors who went bat-sh*t crazy over receiving a rejection for their book?

Kat: Yes. There have been a few ugly incidents. But for the most part, we either get no response (the majority of the time) or we get a thank you for the insight. I really appreciate the latter as it shows the author wants to put out the best work possible. We strive to give honest input privately, which is more than any other site out there will do.

Kyle: I’ve noticed that a LOT of authors don’t follow the submissions guidelines. I find it kind of funny that people who write books do not READ well.

Kat: That’s not a question – are you just venting?

Kyle: Yes. You know I’m a little scared of you, right? Big Al told me some stuff that makes me glad I live in a different time zone.

Kat: Excellent.

Kyle: On that note, I will thank you for your time, and thanks for the opportunity to be a volunteer at IU.

And now, I’ll open this to questions from the audience. (Ha, I’ve always wanted to say that.)

Author: Administrators

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16 thoughts on “An Inside Look at Indies Unlimited”

  1. Hey Kyle! Great interview with Kat! I am planning a post about the help that you offered me just recently with the book cover and book description for The Wolf’s Moon during the vetting process. I have implemented both of those suggestions!! It helps to have someone else who has both a ton of experience in the industry as well as a different set of eyes look objectively at the aspects of someone’s book. Someone once taught me that feedback is a gift. If someone takes the time to offer you a suggestion, it would behoove you to listen intently to their thoughts. When I stood back and looked at the changes you suggested I was resistant at first (only because it is my baby and masterpiece)!!However, once I finished the cover in response to your reasoning, it all made perfect sense. That is when I actually saw what you were saying when I stood back and looked at how the name took away from the title. Thank you so very much for taking the time to present this valuable feedback for me as an author. I have always looked to Indies Unlimited for an objective and honest approach in this business of self-publishing, ever since I brought my debut book to the Indies market! Again, thank you all so much for such great content and great people (and Mr. Pish of course).

  2. Kyle, I thought that was just between the two of us. Now I’m in BIG, BIG, TROUBLE. I better change into my fireproof shirt right now. 🙁

    Love your interview though.

  3. Kyle, we’re so glad to have you aboard IU, and it sounds like you’re getting quite the education from your experience. I’ll bet it’s pretty eye-opening to work behind the scenes. I don’t think any of us really know how much work Kat puts into the site. I am very glad to hear that some authors donate; I’m sure that’s a huge help. We minions do what we can to support the site but most of us are still waiting for our big break and not rolling in dough (yet). If just a fraction of the authors that pass through IU donate a bit, that would be wonderful. Thanks for sharing this interview with us.

  4. Great interview, Kyle, and great job so far! You’re an awesome addition to the staff. In fact, if you ever need another internship, you could come and work for me. Unfortunately, the pay rate would be the same…

  5. Great interview, Kyle. I see that your education is paying off. Now can you put in an extra day so Kat can have just one day off? These things can be done on-line now, so don’t give me any excuses about time zone differences. 😉

  6. Great interview Kyle! I can vouch for that when Kat and IU were extremely helpful and generous with their time when I submitted my book description for the trailer. It’s humbling to know that Kat puts in a 16-hour day into helping writers, and all for the love of books. Thank you Kyle. And a big thank you to Kat!

  7. Kat has always gone far and wide to help me and she does it with her quirky sense of humor and only asks for a couple of Ho Ho’s in return. Actually she doesn’t ask for them, but I know she wants them. Haha.

    Great interview for a fabulous person!!!

  8. Loved the interview Kyle and thanks for letting everyone know how much Kat does for indie-authors. When I submitted my book Kat was absolutely wonderful in pointing out how I could improve the blurb, create an elevator pitch, a tweet, and do an interview for a Saturday Book Brief. Thank you Kat. I took everything on board, listened, responded and was rewarded with a much better idea of what works and what doesn’t and can now take that knowledge and use it for my next books.
    I love Indies Unlimited and the way the help indie-authors. The articles are fantastic and I repost many of them onto my website so others can know. Keep up the great work. Wish I could help more financially – maybe one day.

  9. Hilarious and informative. I was recently asked to speak to a group of aspiring authors about self publishing. I thought I was being well paid until I found out how much they had to pay to hear me. Makes your teeth curl. But I told them about IU and what the kinds of things they do to help SP authors. And I gave them the link. You may get a few more Kiwi ones now.

  10. I’ve smelled burning hair (my own) but never burning flesh. How do you know which is worse? I’m verrrrrry curious…

    Great interview!

    And THANKS for doing a thankless job, Kat. 🙂

  11. Kat helped me with my book blurb back in 2013 and I’m not at all surprised she’s still going above and beyond for new and not so new writers. I am horrified by the hours she works though. I’m glad there’s someone there to give her a hand. Kat must NEVER get sick. 🙁

  12. Wonderful interview. And a great reminder to those of us who have benefited from all of the information offered by Kat and others on UI, to click on that little “Donate” button wa-a-ay up at the top on the right hand side of the page. I know I have overlooked it until today ( so sorry- have rectified that now! :-D)
    It’s money well spent, fellow writers!

  13. I am constantly amazed at both the quality and quantity of useful and constructive information available from all who contribute to IU. You’re a fountain of good stuff. diamonds all, and so diverse. That makes IU one of the best resources for an writer striving to improve their quality and standards, so thanks to one an all.
    Oh, and by the way, I have bought quite a number of books written by IU team members, as well as boos that are featured, and have got something special from every one of them. Thanks again.

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