Day: April 5, 2012

The Joys of Being ‘Indie’

What is an ‘indie’ author? A friend of mine describes an indie author as someone who never gives up the dream. I’d like to take it a few steps further.

An ‘indie’ author is someone who is passionate about writing and refuses to give up. They usually have a few rejection letters from big name publishing houses. Those, thank you but no thank you letters that authors get from the big boys. I say frame those letters and display them prominently. Use them as a catalyst to move yourself  forward. When you’re an indie author, that’s what you do, you keep moving forward.  Think of Dorie in Finding Nemo–‘just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

So an indie author is someone who writes AND publishes their own work. A decade ago it was referred to as ‘vanity’ printing. I strongly dislike that term. It makes it sound as though the writer is vain and full of themselves. Back then, you’d turn to vanity presses when the big boys told you that your worked stunk. Because a writer had heart and refused to give up, they’d turn to vanity presses, publish their own work via paperback or hardback and sell it themselves. Lots of work in that. I believe the big boys came up with the phrase ‘vanity publishing’. How dare that person publish what we’ve already deemed unsellable and unacceptable??? Such vanity!

What do Mark Twain, John Grisham, L Ron Hubbard, Beatrix Potter, Carl Sandburg, and TS Elliot all have in common? They are just a few of the very famous authors who at one point or another self-published their own work! I know, shocking isn’t it? ;o)

Please do not get me wrong. I have nothing against the big boys, nothing against big name publishing houses. They do a tremendous amount of work and because of them, the world has been exposed to countless great books. They’ve opened entire new worlds to people. Books are very, very important.

With that said, please do not hold it against me that I am self-published or ‘indie’. I work very hard at what I do and I know that win, lose or draw, it is ultimately up to me. I kind of like it that way! I like being in control of my own destiny. ;o)

One of the most often asked questions of indie writers is this: Would you take a contract with a big publishing house if one were offered to you? The answers are as varied as the books available to us today. Some say yes others say no and some say maybe and the reasons behind their answers are different.

My answer to that question is no. I would not take a contract with a big publishing house if it were offered to me. No, I do not hold any grand illusions that one would ever be offered. I’m not that vain! lol

So why wouldn’t I?  When you sign a contract with the big boys, I feel you give up far more than you gain. I’ve been told more than once in my lifetime that I have control issues, so that might be the biggest reason behind my answer! lol  When you sign with the big boys, they can pretty much do whatever they want to your book. If they don’t like the title, they can change it. They can take a machete to your book and hack away at it, change it, and re-write whatever parts they want to. While I do not mind constructive criticism and help, I think I’d cry uncontrollably if I had to hand over my baby, my book and let someone else do whatever they wanted to it! My daughters would probably tell you that I wouldn’t cry, I’d more likely than not fight to the bitter end over it!

I have to admit that having a professional editor would have been great with my first book, Laiden’s Daughter, I don’t think the price to pay for such services would have been worth it. I DO have a professional editor now and she is wonderful! I can promise you that there will be no formatting issues with my next book! ;o)

Did you know that with the big boys, you have to sell, bare minimum, 5,000 paperback or hard copies of your book before they even think of giving you a royalty check? That seems a pretty steep price. My research also tells us that the big boys will print X number of copies of your book and if they aren’t sold within a specific time frame, you end up owing the big boys money. I honestly do not know how the authors are able to survive on that. Many of them have to maintain their full-time jobs in order to support their writing habit.

Yes, I still have my full time job. But I at least have a glimmer of hope of someday being able to give up that full time job so that I can write full time. I believe I can reach that goal far faster as an indie writer. ;o)

Yes, I do believe indie authors must be held to the same high standards as a traditionally published author. Yes, I made a few errors on my first novel, but those errors have been corrected. (Another nice thing about ebooks! If someone points out an error you can quickly and easily fix it! lol)  Our readers will let us know readily enough if they don’t like our stories either through reviews or sales. That’s one of the things I love about readers: brutal honesty! ;o)

So there you have it. I love being an independently published author. I love having control of my own destiny. I love the royalty set up via Amazon/KDP. But most importantly, I LOVE writing! I truly enjoy sharing what I’ve written with the rest of the world. And I love hearing from readers- whether they have a positive review or negative, I love hearing what they thought of my work.

There is a story in each of us. Never give up on your dream!

Remember this: until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the fear and pain of change, nothing in your life will ever change – it will all remain the same. ;o)

Hugs,

Suzan