As promised, I’m back this week with more on the subject of my personal publishing journey! Thank you again to my lovely newsletter subscriber Angela for requesting this topic. I’ve enjoyed delving into it and hope you all have found it helpful and/or encouraging in some way!
Now, where was I? Oh, yes, co-publishing! (Click here to read all about it in Part I.) I mentioned at the end of last week’s post that my season of co-publishing was short lived. Being a brand-new entrepreneur and a veritable infant in the publishing world, I didn’t see the red flags that had been waving wildly in front of my face. I thought paying a co-publisher loads of cash to format and publish my books was the only alternative to traditional publishing.
I forget exactly when it was, but sometime in 2012 (after co-publishing two non-fiction books) I stumbled across thecreativepenn.com, a fantastic resource for indie authors run by the ever inspiring, Joanna Penn. By reading her articles and watching her YouTube videos (I’m now an avid listener of her podcast), I learned there was a whole new world (cue Aladdin and Jasmine…) shaking up the publishing industry, and that no longer was self-publishing something to be ashamed of or intimidated by — it was a new frontier overflowing with opportunities.
The above article does a tremendous job of highlighting the numerous perks of indie publishing (I agree with Joanna that “indie” is a more accurate descriptor, as most successful self-published authors don’t do it all themselves, but more or less run their own mini publishing companies), but in summary, these were the biggest takeaways for me:
Indie Publishing is:
Indie authors, unlike traditionally published authors, don’t have passive roles in the publication process. Quite the contrary, they are large and in charge from start to finish! They have the last say on the edits, the covers, the back cover and online synopses, what formats the books will be in, release dates, as well as price points and promotions. Yes, there’s tons to learn, but the journey is incredibly rewarding!
If you’ve tried the traditional route, then you know it is anything but speedy. Just researching and reaching out to various literary agencies can take months. And after you’ve queried them, it’s not uncommon for them to take six months getting back with you, if they respond at all! If you’re lucky enough to get an agent, it can take months, sometimes years, for he or she to sell your book to a publisher – again, that’s if it sells (my first novel was on submission for eight months before my agent and I parted ways). And if your book is sold, it can take up to a year for it to be published.
Just typing that makes me envision that meme of the skeleton sitting on a park bench, still waiting for who knows what. I don’t want to spend months and years in publication limbo. I much prefer a time-efficient process that ensures my audience remains engaged with regular new material and that I’m always working on a new project.
With indie publishing, you can upload your files to the various stores and see your book for sale between four and 72 hours later! Now that is efficient.
GREAT FOR HIGHER ROYALTIES
Traditional royalty rates usually fit in the 7-25% bracket, averaging 10%. If you price your book between $2.99 and $9.99 (on Amazon), you can get a 70% royalty. Joanna Penn emphasizes, however, that indie publishing should NOT be seen as a get-rich-quick scheme. Without a marketing team behind indies, they have to work very hard to get their books in front of people and make sales. It’s a long-term game, one that requires no shortage of patience, perseverance, and very hard work.
“An author can’t build a business on luck – but they can learn about marketing, and authors have to do that these days, regardless of how they publish.” – Joanna Penn
BETTER FOR NICHE GENRES
Have you ever explored the plethora of literary genres in the Amazon bookstore? Here are a few I had no idea existed:
- Metaphysical and Visionary Science Fiction
- Galactic Empire Science Fiction
- Space Fleet Science Fiction
- TV, Movie, Video Game Adaptations
And that’s just a sampling. It seems like there is a market for just about every book genre imaginable. So, if you have an idea for a Battlestar Galactica meets Seinfeld story, you may not get an agent or publisher’s interest, but that’s not to say there aren’t readers out there who would absolutely love that kind of zany, sci-fi comedy.
If there’s a particular genre you enjoy reading, there’s a good chance there are other like-minded readers out there waiting for similar stories!
A POTENTIAL STEPPING STONE
You know how earlier I mentioned the long, grueling process of querying an agent, getting a publisher, and finally seeing your book hit the shelves? Well, indie publishing can potentially eliminate the first step (which is often the toughest and most discouraging) and usher you directly to a publisher. Or rather, the publishers will be ushered to you…
According to Joanna, “if you self-publish and do well, agents and publishers will come to you. You don’t have to beg and plead for attention. The power balance is reversed and the empowered indie can get much better deals than a first-time author with no evidence of sales.”
50 Shades of Grey author E.L. James and The Martian author Andy Weir are just a few examples of formerly indie authors who had movie producers and Big 5 publishers knocking on their doors.
With my third book, another women’s faith-based fitness book, I decided to try my hand at indie publishing and released the book on Kindle, paperback (via CreateSpace), and eventually in audio via ACX (if you’d like me to go into more depth on any of those platforms, just let me know!).
I could not be happier with that decision. I’m continuing to sell copies of Perfect Fit and its sequel every week (Book 1 came out in 2013) without doing any marketing, other than making them free for a few days via Amazon’s KDP promotion options. After I release the third book, I’m going to bundle the three in an anthology and sell the box set at a discounted price (yet another example of an author taking the reins and flexing her entrepreneurial muscles! ;-)).
What I love most about indie publishing is the fact that there are no gatekeepers; readers are the judge on whether a book has merit. Would I still like to be traditionally published? Yes. There are a lot of things about traditional publishing that appeal to me, and it’s a dream I’ve had since I was a little girl.
But, I’m not going to not publish simply because I haven’t landed a traditional publishing deal yet. I’m continuing to learn my craft and the better understand the market every single day. I’m treating my writing like a profession, because whether or not I have a New York agent, I’m a professional. And so are you.
We live in a wonderful and exciting time in publishing history. Let’s make the most of it by coming together as a community and supporting each other’s journey, whichever form it takes!
“What happens when we turn pro is, we finally listen to that still, small voice inside our heads. At last we find the courage to identify the secret dream or love or bliss that we have known all along was our passion, our calling, our destiny.” ― Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro
I’ll be back soon with more of my publishing story (it’s not over yet!). If you have any questions for me, please don’t hesitate to tweet me @dandersontyler or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’d love to hear from you!