The reasons why I am considering indie publishing.
I hate risk. I hate uncertainty. I really hate exposing my work to an unforgiving world. But a compelling list of reasons conspire to push me to take the leap into the risky, uncertain indie publishing landscape.
Reason number one: A writer needs the feedback only an audience can give. While learning, authors get feedback from other writers, which is good for structural and detailed edits, but most of the time, these well-intentioned critiquers find something wrong, and a lot of somethings. They view the work from backstage. They see the strings, the stage makeup, the fog machine. So the overall effect is lost.
Friends and family read but, not wanting to offend or discourage, give adulation and encouragement.
An audience sees the effect of the elements and reacts emotionally to the actual story—either positively or negatively.
Creatives need an stage to hone their craft The Beatles didn’t sit around playing for other musicians hoping that they were improving. They got out, They hustled. They exposed what they were doing to public scrutiny and received immediate reaction. Artist, actors, musicians all preform to get feedback, to earn their chops, to pay their dues. Why should writing be any different?
And indie publishing provides a method to gather information. Is an idea marketable? Do people connect with the writing style? Are the characters and plots compelling?
Second: My stories fall into the urban fantasy/sci-fi genre and that is a hard sell to agents and publishers in this market. Even the most polished of stories with the most unique of plots struggle to time finding a home in the shrinking environment of traditional publishing. If an agent isn’t convinced that a book is a home run, Stephen King-style bestseller, it never get out of the dugout. Heck, it never even get into the stadium in the nosebleed section. Indie publishing gives the writer the power to buy the team.
Third: I have been hanging on to a well-paying part time job for some time. It’s never going to give me a comfortable life or be mentally satisfying, and I’m approaching the point where walking into my cubicle feels like slowly being closed inside an Iron Maiden. I need to start laying the bricks for path out. But that means I can’t wait any longer. I need to take a breath, jump off the abyss, and hope that my years of learning have created a parachute that will let me land not with a splat, but maybe with a thud.
Here’s to not splatting.
To the writer’s out there, have you considered indie publishing, if so why or why not? To the readers, does the fact a book is indie published affect your buying decisions or attitude while reading a book? Let me know in the comments below, or just drop a hi to let me know you visited.
Indie publishing is a viable path to take in today’s market! I think a lot of writers are smart to experiment with it. As a reader, I’ve read both trad and indie books. I think for me–if it sounds like a good story, has great reviews, or the first chapter promises me something I like–I’m all for it. I have a number of favorites and some indie titles in that mix.
Good luck…er break a leg…or whatever the proper term is for the start of this journey
I will take the break a leg in the spirit it is intended, for a performer ready to go on stage. 😀
Yay, I’m glad to hear this! Yeah, our genre is a tough sell to NY, so I say, take it to the readers! And readers won’t care–if it looks indistinguishable from a NY book, they won’t even realize it’s indie. So make sure to hire a great cover designer, etc. Ping me if you have questions, since this is a new fresh journey for me too, and I’ve already learned tons. I’m so glad I went ahead and did it!
Your cover is fantastic, Angela. You have a great book there, can’t wait to read the entire thing! And I just may be pestering you with questions. 😀
I do not agree with your assessment that agents only take what they think is a Stephen King bestseller — that may be true for some, but I know a lot of agents and all of them will sign a book they love, even if it might be a ‘tough sell’.
My opinion is that using the marketplace as some kind of litmus test is flawed in a couple of ways. 1) People form their opinions in lots of subjective ways. You are just as likely to get fully negative reviews as you are positive. Readers, in general, (unlike critique partners, editors and agents) do not have the skill set to tell you why your story may not be gaining any traction in the marketplace. 2) Unless you have the skill set and connections in place to effectively market your own work, no one will read it anyway. You will be competing with thousands of other books, a lot of them free or cheap, by both self-published authors and also by other established publishers who might be using those books as a loss-leader in their general marketing plan. 3) If your first book is ‘meh’, the chances are no one will buy your future books. I can usually tell by reading a page or two of the sample (if one is provided, I simply don’t buy books I can’t sample) if someone has published before they are really ready as a writer.
Which brings me to the ‘path out’ idea. You may be very skilled and very well-connected and very lucky — and end up selling 95K copies of your books by using social media to do promo (I have a friend who did just that — she absolutely refuses to give me any details or proof). But the possibility also exists that you will sell 10-20 copies total over the life of the book, even with spending all your free time doing promo. My feeling is that you would be better off getting training or finding a job you like. Even previously successful hybrid authors are struggling sometimes (or really realize the value of a good employer subsidized insurance plan).
Finally, you do not mention your plans for getting the book edited by someone who is not you. Or getting a cover. Or formatting. These things matter — I have been an editor (for a small press) and I can tell you that even if you think your book is flawless, there are always things. An experienced editor can tell you where your story falls flat or why sections of prose do not engage the reader. They can also note typos, which (trust me) you will have. A decent cover makes the difference between looking like a rank amateur and drawing the reader in with dazzling art.
I do not say these things to discourage you — just some things to think about.
I do wish you great success.
Wow, Karen. Thank you for the well thought out reply. And trust me the reason I had not considered indie in the past was because of the discoverability issue. But, I do have a plan for marketing, cover art, and a development edits, as well as, copy edits. I have also exhausted numerous online/in person critique groups and spent years taking classes and reading craft books. So hopefully, it’s pretty solid work.
As for getting a better job, been there, done that, usually leave within a year or two because my heart wasn’t in it and my employers could tell. I actually had many health problems working at jobs I detested. And I’ve done a lot of jobs: bank manager, sales, working for the government, the list goes on. I have an accounting degree, but I’d rather work in menial labor jobs to give me writing time, and keep my soul intact. I guess I’m hopeful that indie may be a way to accelerate my path out. What else is the manuscript doing right now but taking up hard drive space? Nada.
What’s the worst that could happen? I sell 10-20 copies and get horrible reviews. Then that wasn’t the right book, or I’m not clever enough yet to tell that story. Worst case, I have to use a pen name for my next book.
And all that said, I am still not a hundred percent certain I will make the jump. That’s why this feedback is invaluable to me. Thank you so much for sharing.
My Indie work hasn’t generated enough attention to be worth noting, but I look at it as a long-term way to build inventory. As my traditional work grows, I hope someone will like something they see in a traditional market enough to go looking for my other work.
Nice use of hybid publishing to promote both sides of your writing. I think your method is ideal for building big platforms, and garnering attention for your work in both trad and indie.
Oh, and I thought this paragraph was brilliant: “Creatives need an stage to hone their craft The Beatles didn’t sit around playing for other musicians hoping that they were improving. They got out, They hustled. They exposed what they were doing to public scrutiny and received immediate reaction. Artist, actors, musicians all preform to get feedback, to earn their chops, to pay their dues. Why should writing be any different?”
I still don’t know the answers, but I think you’re absolutely right about one thing: you’ve got to keep moving. Good luck, Pam!
I don’t think anyone has all the answers. We all need to find the right path for us. Thanks for stopping and for the encouragement.