Should Indie Publishing Be For You?

stack-letters-447578_640The average writer is no longer required to only do one form of publishing these days. When I started to investigate the literary world ten years ago, publishing houses just a few years before had started taking queries exclusively from agents and to publish your book without a publishing house was a frowned-upon shortcut for those who didn’t want to do the work on their book to make it publishable. Getting an agent to represent you was difficult as there were only a handful in the industry, but publishing houses wouldn’t look at your work without an agent and agents wanted you to come to them with a contract in hand.

Now, there are more agents than editors—all of them with projects they want to pitch to the handful of remaining houses, hoping their well-known or debut author will strike the fancy of the over-worked editor on the other side of the desk.

In consequence, agents are finding it increasingly difficult to land their talented authors and those that are landed are getting smaller deals or having to settle (which isn’t always settling depending on the author’s attitude) for a smaller house.

Publishing is far from what it used to be. Even as a reader, you can’t help noticing this fact.

So where does this leave the writer who is struggling to get picked up, is consistently being told that their product is good and has interest, but no publishing house is up for actually buying it? Are you settling to indie publish or are you giving yourself a leg up in a vastly changing industry?

First: It depends on the type of writer you are. Are you a go-getter? Are you fascinated by the publishing process and like having the control in your hands over the cover design, interior layout, editorial, content, price and release dates, just to name a few? Then indie publishing could quite possibly be for you.

Second: Indie publishing should not be your choice just because you haven’t been able to sell in a larger market. While it is often the #1 reason writers investigate this avenue, it shouldn’t be your only reason. Why? Because in our impatience to have a book published, oftentimes we can overlook the major flaws that have caused us to be rejected.  Which leads to my third point.

Third: Find out why you’ve been rejected as best you can. Is it because the publisher doesn’t think your topic will sell right now or is it a structure/voice/grammar/ability to write issues? To succeed at indie publishing, you’re still going to have to do the work, which means you better have a darn good product to release. Readers aren’t going to care if you’re publishing with a Big Five house or your own press; you write a poor story, that baby ain’t going anywhere.

Fourth: Be prepared to do the work. There aren’t any shortcuts about this: indie publishing is hard work. But then again, so is traditional publishing. There should be much wisdom taken into the decision to self-publish. If this is for you, I absolutely encourage you to get out there and get it done and I’ll be the first in line to buy your well-done product.

Self-publishing is all about the research. Research is King in this industry and knowing what you’re getting into beforehand, as best you can, is definitely Queen. Do your homework, ask those who have gone before you and succeeded and failed. On both sides of the fence. In doing this, you’ll be best prepared to make the right publishing decision for you.

Question: would you ever indie publish your books? What do you see are the pros and cons? And if you are a published indie author, what do you love or hate about the process?

11 Replies to “Should Indie Publishing Be For You?”

  1. PS In answer to your question.Yes, I would Indie my book! The process I hate the most is knowing where to publish and the underlying (hidden) terms.

  2. I’m a published author, but I’m considering going indie with at least one of my titles and staying with my publisher with the others. My off-brand novel isn’t part of my current series, so I’ll probably go indie with this novel. I’m in the research phase, trying to understand what part Ingram plays in all of this, both traditional and indie for distribution.

    There’s also the consideration of money. Authors get a larger percentage when we go indie, even counting the cost of an editor, cover, and book design, etc. Fewer people take their split of the product. Since authors do most of the publicity work, making most of the money is appealing.

    Simultaneously, I love working with my editor and publisher and having all of these particulars handled by them. Many publishers (mine is one; the big five all do) are now offering both traditional publishing and indie self-publishing packages. If I go indie, I’ll work with my publisher on both products, because I like and trust him.

    It’s a crazy world! Ten years ago we never would have considered this. Options are nice, but I’m still hoping the pile of unedited messy fiction clears out of the way – there are now 8,000,000 books on Amazon. Only time will tell!

    1. I have several author friends you are doing the same thing, Melinda. I think that has to be one of the nicest things about our current publishing world is you DO have both of those options–something we didn’t have before. While there have been many changes in Christian fiction publishing, we have more options. And I love the fact that your publisher offers you options to self publish through them. I look forward to seeing what you might do in your indie publishing future. 🙂

  3. Very thought-provoking. I would indie-publish, but I have yet to experience traditional. When you write “Research is King,” what specific things should be researched when planning to indie-pub? Is it possible to work a “day-job” and pull of the self-publishing marathon? Thank you!

    1. Absolutely! Just as many authors hold day jobs and publish in the main stream, you can just as efficiently self publish while working–it’s just all a matter of scheduling and time management. As for research, a couple good places to start: finding a good editor–you’ll want one. Cover design and who you go with. What platform (and there are many) you should use for publishing your book, best marketing tools, building your base of influence amongst readers, etc. None of it is hard and there are plenty of resources out there and more people to talk to about the process, but that’s a leaping off point. Best wishes in your indie journey!

  4. I’m very seriously considering going indie for my YA realistic contemporary series. One of the advantages is being able to release sequels closer together, like maybe 3 months apart rather than the 12-18 months it often takes in traditional publishing. Lots of good points in your post, thanks!

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