Monday, November 28, 2011

Buyer beware of Indie Publication

When I went in search of a subject matter to write in my blog, I of course went to Google and put in ‘Independent Publication. I was looking for information to stimulate my brain cells after a big holiday weekend that involved way too much food and drink. What I found was pages and pages, more pages, and even more pages of companies that are singing the song of success to writers. They are like the Pied Piper, entrancing the naïve to pay out money, so they can do what most writers can do on their own.
Penguin recently added an arm to the publishing industry playing the same tune. They call out waving the Penguin emblem, “We’ll fix that story right up, and then format, get you a cool cover, and put it up on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other sites, and then take 30% of your profits on top of the $500 or so, paid up front to do all the work.” What I found with most of these companies that is the average.
The landscape of publishing has definitely changed. This is where publishers like Penguin come in. They are trying to jump on the bandwagon. At first anyone from NYC, turned their well defined nose up at indie publishing. They believed with all their turned up noses that it wouldn’t take off or last. No surprise to authors who are indie, it did, and is proving to be ground breaking with the success of John Locke and Amanda Hocking.  At this writing Locke is the only indie to appear on Amazon’s elite million sellers list. No one has caught him who is completely indie. Although, established NYC published authors have hit 1million, those were usually a back list of previously published works, the author was able to obtain the rights and redistribute on their own.   
With the success of Indie, I believe authors will see that change. Recently, through the rumor mill an author tried to get her back list. The publishers agreed, but only would return the original unedited version.  Not the version that went to print. This left the author with finding an editor, along with cover art. Did she really need to accept the original version? Yes, if she wanted to republish the books as indies. They had her over a barrel called copyright. Welcome, to the world of indie.
It is buyer beware in the world of indie. There is going to be company’s pop-up promising bestsellers lists, and #1 slot in ratings. There is that old pipe dream. Whatever those publishers promise, an indie can do on their own with a little hard work. And it’s hard work. The sad thing it is easier to cut a check or paypal to one of these publishers and let them do the confusing work of formatting and editing. They have all the connections with all the cool cover artists. This would be very tempting to any author, who wants to see their work in print.  The indie who goes alone, they’ll see about 70% profits on their work. And you’re thinking, well it would be that with an e-publisher. Not exactly. The author would see 30% go to the publisher, then another 30% in total to Amazon, B&N and other sites they use. So that leaves only 40% to the author. Honestly, it does cost to get the book up, in the form of editing and cover art. So why not educate yourself, learn to format, get a great cover artist that is reasonable, find an affordable editor, and get the 70% in the long run and maintain all rights to your story and characters, while maintaining complete control over your profits and career. It’s worth a lot more to me at 70%, then 40%.
It’s a rarity to see a lot of money in indie publishing. I feel the popularity of this form of publication is not so much about money than fulfilling a dream and seeing your name on a cover you helped design. It’s also about writing the story. To see that story in print, no matter the form is the biggest high.


  1. Great note on the RWA loops today about not accepting that you can't have your edited book back. Bunch of lawyer talk but I was glad to see someone realize that editing is the writer's job too and the edited book is the writer's book.

  2. This is an important warning. There are great e-publishers out there, but you need to do your research, and ones that just do a generic cover and run the book through spellcheck, then get half your royalties for years--they're just another PublishAmerica-type scam. Stay away.

    I really admire your classy attitude, Lee. Hang in there. :-)