Friday, May 15, 2015

Should Indie Publishing Be For You?

The 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 agents 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 more 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 there is 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 a structure/voice/grammar/ability to write issue? 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?

Casey Herringshaw is a homeschool graduate and has been writing since high school. She is a country girl now living in a metropolis of Denver, Colorado, employed as an administrative assistant at Wordserve Literary.


Unknown said...

I released my first indie published novel at the end of last year. I found the whole process a huge learning experience as I dove in without much knowledge. I agree with your last paragraph to make sure you research both side the failure and the success, because knowledge will help you make the best decision.

What I love the most about indie publishing is that I am in charge of my books, I'm not selling them out to anyone one else. What i do decides the fate of my stories. i can decide what changes to make or oddities to keep.

Most indie writers struggle the most with marketing. Many of us go into indie publishing not realizing that we are just another face, another story among millions and getting our book out there is seriously hard work. I would suggest that anyone that is even thinking about indie publishing should start building an email list immediately and getting readers to follow your work. this will save you so much struggle in heartache later when your book is released.

Sara Whitford said...

Casey — First of all, let me say how happy it makes me to see you're a homeschool grad. :D I'm a homeschooling mama to my (nearly) 12-year-old son so I always love to see others who have been homeschooled doing great and creative things.

I also happen to be an independent author-publisher. My first novel was released back in March and it's the first in what, Lord willing, will be my long-running Adam Fletcher Adventure Series.

I think you're absolutely right about indie publishing being a lot of hard work and I think it's great that you've addressed the fact that a lot of writers might run to indie publishing after rejections from agents without really doing what's necessary to hone and polish their work until it's ready for primetime.

In my case, I intended to go indie from the get-go. I'm a graphic designer by trade, so I was happy to take up the challenge of doing my own cover and layout. Still, I knew that even though I may be a strong writer and editor of *other* people's work, I hired a copyeditor to help me whip my novel into shape.

I love seeing people indie publish, but I'd like to see all indie writers do everything they can to make their work as professional and high-quality as possible. A flood of half-hearted publishing efforts isn't good for any of us.

Great article!

Anonymous said...

May 2014 I indie-published the novel of my heart, God's Will, and I learned so much. I still am. I had a great team of other indie-writer friends to help me, which was invaluable, and who knows? Maybe I'll indie publish again. :)
Great article!