Monday, October 10, 2011

Why Go Indie?

Independent published books have been around for a long time. They were vanity press, the original name. Self-publishing was so frowned upon, and looked down on by the publishing houses, to mention the name in a face to face agent pitch, was ill advised. To say you are self-published meant a death sentence for a budding career. Recently, I had a published author who still advised against telling a perspective agent, about indie publishing. Unless, the book sold remarkably well.

So, in many ways indie is still looked down upon by the publishing industry. Even though, agents are now trolling Indies looking for the next-big-money-making-client and best-seller.
So why go indie? For me, I had been writing since my husband bought me my first computer, many moons ago. Prior to the computer age, I would need a typewriter, along with time to write. With children almost grown, a computer helped me rediscover my love for writing and storytelling. Now, I had to learn to write a book. There is a process to the whole thing. I had to learn to format to present my work to an agent, along with query letters, synopsis, and on and on. In the beginning, I lived in a naïve place all writers do, with the idea I could write the next best-seller, and the agents of course would love every word and just fix and publish my baby. WRONG!
I spent years educating myself on the whole process, and finding my writing voice. The only way I’d learn was to hang with other writers, school myself, and write. I’d need to write again, than write some more. That’s what I did, along with sending out numerous queries.
I started out full steam ahead, but found the disappointment in dealing with the industry over the years. I learned some valuable lessons from published friends. At first I saw a glamorous life. Yes, they had deadlines, but still had time for life. They put out about three books a year, and they still had time to breath. Something the average citizen doesn’t realize, when the housing market crashed along with the stock market, so did the publishing industry. The publishing industry was sucked down a big dark hole, right from the moment the numbers dropped. The big houses in New York cut staffing. They laid off long time editors, and they stopped acquiring books, as advances to well known published authors we’re cut drastically. An author who might receive 40k for a book now faced 5k offers. The answer to make up the money? To go to work at MacDonald’s or shut down their lives and do nothing but write. They were forced to pump out more books in a year, leaving them no time for life. That’s when I decided I didn’t want that life. I didn’t want to be tied to my computer and my writing life, to pump out story after story, change my name to change genres, and continue to pump out story after story. To work under those conditions, doesn’t necessarily produce quality work. Not what I wanted.
For me Indie became the answer. Yes, everything upfront comes out of pocket, my pocket. If I don’t learn to format, I’ll pay someone, cha-ching. Editing is essential. Authors who thinks they don’t need an editor, is a fool for a client. Cha-ching, more money. Good cover art is necessary, cha-ching. A book needs to be promoted in order to sell. Don’t think for a moment big publishing houses help promote. Not anymore. Not unless you’re Bill Clinton or Sarah Palin. Publishers pay for the NYT list slots to launch a book. The book has to live up to the expectations to which the publishers paid a hefty price. When an indie hits the list, it will be because the book sold spectacularly and earned its place. Cha-ching for promoting. Which means a mailing list for announcements, bookmarks, business cards, websites, etc…Cha-ching more money out the door. By the time all is said and done, if you include a website, we’re talking a couple grand. Easily. The beauty, all expenses are a tax write off. After first initial costs to Indie publish, it does go down, but the cha-ching factor never goes away.
When does the author receive pay back? When all of the above is done, and the book sells well. One thing promoting does, gives the public a personal view of the author. To put one’s butt out there, to connect with the readers is essential. Cha-ching, more money. This means conferences and book signings away from home. The hope, the book sells well, and you’ll get all the money invested back in full.
After all the expenses, the Indie author has a 70% profit margin…Not bad, but first all the above needs to happen. So why go indie? Control plain and simple. Why wait for a book written this year to come out in two years, when the book could be on the Indie shelf when finished.This means, pay back comes much sooner.
I have just started my indie career and cha-ching, I feel the pinch in expenses. The pay back, I have control and a life.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I'm very much a 'test the waters' kind of person, not exactly the poster child for Indie publishing. But, I am enjoying the adventure and can't wait for Lee to join me.

  3. GREAT story in favor of going indie! Sounds like a lot of work but you're in control and the books can get out there WAY faster. i completely see it. I'm now following your blog.

  4. Tonya that is so true. It's worth every penny as the money rolls in. You can make back your investment. It's worth the freedom.

  5. Jill, jump in with both feet, and get wet. It will be worth it.

  6. Patricia, at first its a lot of work. But when you learn to format and get past everything else, it's worth it. You get 70% profit, and complete control. I think it's more fulfilling then waiting for a publishing house to do some of the work for you, but as I said they don't promote any more. It's up to you...