Pros & Cons of Indie Publishing Part I - Indie Pub It
Last month I proposed that an author should indie publish because of the (almost total) control it gave her over her own career and product.
But there are some major drawbacks and advantages to doing it yourself despite that mega bonus. This month I want to outline the Top Ten hit list. I will eventually examine all of these in-depth and a lot more besides.
Let’s get the unpleasant news out of the way first.
#5 You are 100% responsible…for everything.
Welcome to the dark side of total control. Being free to do anything you want sounds heavenly, but there is a price.
For instance, if the cover sucks, that’s on you. Even if you hire a cover artist, you need to know enough about cover design to know if the cover they make will sell books, or will work as an ebook when reduced to an inch across.
It pays to know the basic principles of good design, page layout, typography, editing, book production, book distribution…basically, every facet of the book publishing industry.
#4 You have to do all the work yourself
Legacy published authors turn in their manuscripts, write a synopsis, and then wait for release day so they can promote their title.
Finishing a manuscript is the tip of an iceberg for indie authors. Even if you’re contracting the work of covers, formatting and more, you still have to supervise your contractors, coordinate your release dates on the retail outlets, and a myriad other small and large tasks that don’t exist for the traditional author.
#3 You have to pay all up-front costs yourself
Depending on how much of the publishing process you contract out, you will have either a small or large investment of hard cash to make before the book can be released.
It is possible to publish for zero dollars if you do everything yourself, including the cover. However, the end product would have limited distribution and it’s doubtful the book will be of a professional quality in every facet. No one is that multi-talented.
Limiting the up-front investment is always a compromise. In order to save the money, you have to do the work yourself. If you don’t have those skills (be honest!) you need to pay the money.
#2 There are still plenty of sites, people and media that won’t touch indie-published anythin
This is not the same as #1. Review and book sites are often using the “no indie” rule as a way of cutting down the overwhelming barrage of review requests and books that flood them on a daily basis. Readers who won’t touch indie are simply doing so because they’re being loyal to their legacy publishers – they’ve never tried indie books and have no intention of doing so. They’ll keep reading their favourite lines and imprints until they stop publishing.
The media that report on publishing with a bewildering black hole where indie is supposed to exist are possibly aligned with a legacy publisher, somewhere in their company’s family tree. There is also fear among some traditional journalists and media, whose own paper-based news organizations are increasingly threatened by ebooks and Internet news media. They have a vested interested in the status quo and tend to favour legacy publish because it fits inside their own comfort zone.
[I must point out that there are traditionally-based media personnel who are opened minded despite the uncertainty of their own industry, who report on the exploding indie publishing industry with fair and well-balanced articles and posts.]
#1 Indie books and authors are considered inferior
This is the biggest bug-bear about indie publishing today. Review sites, readers, agents, editors, and most certainly the legacy publishing side of the industry, think that most of what is published by indie authors is crud.
I’ll let you into a secret: There is a lot of crap out there in indie land. I start reading about twenty indie titles a week. I don’t finish all of them. I don’t expect to.
So yes, there’s crap out there. That’s because of the open door policy of the industry: Anyone can publish anything. This fact is the biggest single boon to readers and authors and defines indie publishing. I’ve heard a lot of people say “They should get rid of all those thunkers, and that would help clean up indie publishing’s reputation,” but they’re dead wrong.
Getting rid of the thunkers would kill indie publishing stone dead.
For a start, getting rid of the thunkers involves some sort of judgement process: Deciding which books are good enough to be published and which ones aren’t.
Does that sound familiar?
Then…who decides? And what makes them qualified to decide? Well…an editor or an agent or someone who knows the market would probably be able to make that decision.
And abruptly, you’re back to a legacy publishing situation where a handful of gatekeepers (editors, agents) are getting to decide what we, the reading public, should or should not get to read.
Readers should decide what we should or should not get to read – and with indie publishing, they do decide: with their wallets. They buy what they want to read and they don’t buy what they don’t want to read. If they don’t like the book, they return it. It is the most market-driven publishing system devised since moveable type was invented.
Instead of decrying the existence of thunkers, we need to celebrate them. They assure us the system is working as it should. But in the meantime, indie publishing will be universally cloaked with the reputation that these thunkers give out.
It is very slowly changing as more and more indie authors hit the high profile best seller lists like the New York Times and receive media coverage for their runaway sales figures and movie deals. But for now, it is a prejudice that lingers.
Next month: The positives (yeah!)
Columnist: Tracy Cooper-Posey writes erotic vampire romance series and hot romantic suspense. She has been nominated for five CAPAs including Favourite Author, and won the Emma Darcy Award. She published 35 titles via legacy publishers before switching to indie publishing in March 2011. She has published 21 indie titles to date. Her indie books have made her an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and have been nominated three times for Book Of The Year. Tracy has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at MacEwan University. An Australian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a retired professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line. Her website can be found at http://TracyCooperPosey.com