Pros & Cons of Indie Publishing Part II - Indie Pub It
Now that we’ve looked the negatives in the eye (last month’s column), let’s look at the hefty positives of indie publishing.
#5 No more synopses, really bad covers and more.
I can’t stand writing synopses (not be confused with back cover blurbs) and I’ve heard horror stories about writers procrastinating themselves almost into a breach of contract over their avoidance of synopsis writing. As an indie publisher, you never have to write one again. For some writers, that alone is almost strong enough argument for indie publishing!
Every legacy publisher has quirks when dealing with authors. Some won’t let you contact them directly, some via a web form, or only via your editor. Some won’t return queries for three or five business days, no matter how urgent you think the matter may be. All those house rules are gone when you’re indie publishing.
Bad book covers are also a thing of the past. Legacy authors may have to exclaim “how wonderful!” when they first see the disaster their publisher has arranged, but if your designer delivers a bad cover, then you’re well within your rights to ask the designer to try again.
#4 You can publish as fast as you can write.
This is perhaps the most attractive reason for popular fiction authors (who are usually prolific) to indie publish. Legacy publishers—especially the Big Six Five— release books at such treacle speed that most authors are lucky to be able to release two titles a year. Some contracts have non-competition clauses, forcing authors to stockpile manuscripts and leave them smoking on their desk.
Even on-line publishers who do release an author’s titles more than twice a year still limit a prolific writer (I speak from experience). There are only so many publishing slots to go around.
All these issues disappear with indie publishing. An author can publish a title as soon as he has finished writing and producing it.
#3 Deleting the middle-man (agents & publishers) and talking directly to readers develops a more finely-focused product … i.e. more sales
This is a subtle advantage that only becomes more apparent the longer you indie publish and build deeper reader relationships.
As your readers become more knowledgeable about the indie publishing business and begin to understand how much control authors have over their own product, the type of feedback and input they give will evolve. Readers learn from all sorts of sources, but they will learn most about indie publishing directly from you. Indie publishing is new enough that you could be their first indie author. You get to introduce them to everything indie.
Educated readers will provide feedback that helps shape future novels in a series, as they know that production timelines are so short they can read a book today, email the author today and possibly influence the next book in the series.
You can collate that feedback and decide what changes to make to suit the consensus opinion. Nothing is more valuable than direct reader feedback, and this is fresh from the reader to you. You give your readers exactly what they want…and they couldn’t be happier.
#2 You control the revenue and the pricing.
Everyone knows now that indie books are cheaper, but a small backlash in late 2012 penalized indie authors with very cheap books. Readers still cling to the belief that cheap-to-free books are inferior and Amazon have changed their algorithms to favour books that aren’t basement cheap. But too-steep a price on a new book can depress sales…
It’s possible to release cheap(ish), wait for sales and reviews to pick up, then nudge the price higher to win the favourable sales rankings. This also earns better sales commissions and also attracts even more attention for the book. It’s possible to keep pushing the price higher until sales flatten, then drop it back…or ride the sales hike to the top of the sales chart.
The pricing structure is so flexible for indie authors it becomes another form of promotion—a PR tool in its own right…and I haven’t even mentioned the Amazon Select Program Free Days, which I don’t intend to discuss here. Pricing flexibility and pricing strategies are available to any indie author no matter where they publish or which publishing platform they use.
#1 Creative freedom to build your own niche.
The numero uno advantage indie authors have is the ability to build their own brand or niche.
This was once a luxury only the very biggest best sellers achieved: Nora Roberts, James Patterson and Sandra Brown each have books with similar covers and looks. Each Sandra Brown story has the same feel, each James Patterson novel leaves the reader with the same feelings. This is branding or niching.
Indie authors can brand themselves from book one because they have complete control over their own product. They don’t have to split their books or genres across different publishers or cover artists and risk losing the “look” they were building—or readers. No publisher merger or bankruptcy or the end of a line or imprint will force them to rebuild an entire line or series.
Indie authors can develop their career their way, without interruptions and with the full security of knowing exactly where they are heading. It is surely the very best of reasons for wanting to go indie.
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