Recently I asked you to share your views about indie publishing. I’ll be sharing some of mine very soon, but I always like to hear from you first. Not surprisingly, I found that the people who responded had different reasons for self-publishing.
I was happy to see that many of you who self-published did it without regret. I think so many people are afraid of indie publishing, but it is a good option for some books and writers. You are the only one that can decide what is right for you, but hopefully you’ll get a lot of different opinions and stories in order to find out what will work for your own career. These comments from Working Writer readers should help.
Self Published in the Past But Would Go Traditional in the Future
Susan Helene Gottfried was happy she self-published, but wouldn’t rule out traditional publishing either.
I first self-pubbed in 08 and haven’t regretted it. I’m scheduled to put out two books this year, in fact.
That said, though, if I ever finish this blasted draft, I’ll look into whether it has a shot at a bigger contract (with promotion! That’s a deal-breaker for me). I’m cool with going either way.
I like this view. She’s looking at all her options. I think every time a writer finishes a book they should look at what would be good for that particular project. Too often in the last year we’ve seen authors get upset because a writer has “switched teams” on the publishing front. Amanda Hocking, who became a millionaire from publishing her own books, received negative feedback when she got signed to a multimillion dollar contract with a traditional publisher. Can you imagine? She got a huge publishing deal and then had to deal with criticism over accepting it?
The thing is this: each writer is going to be different. If you feel like you have an edge going one method of publishing over another, do it without regret. The truth is, there is no one right way to publish right now.
Freedom of Ebook Publishing
Marcie echoed the thoughts of many of you:
If publishing eBooks fall into self-publishing, I’ve done it twice. I think the freedom to create and distribute is great. I just need to learn how to do more promoting.
Many of you are publishing ebooks right now. Our post about where to start when you want to publish an ebook is one of the most popular on our site, so I know many of you are getting background info on this. Ebooks, especially, are an easy way to get your book to market. Maybe you want to test out a concept, or maybe you just want to create a side income. Either way, ebooks can be a good route to take.
Selling books of any kind does take marketing. That’s true if you go indie or traditional. I once had a friend who got a contract with a small publisher and then was livid because they asked her to help promote the book. Why wouldn’t you want to help promote the book?
Look, selling books requires marketing. Embrace that if you want to sell books. Period.
Self Publishing Poetry
Poets have self-published since the beginning of time (at least, it sure seems like way.) There’s a really interesting thread on Absolute Write that talks about authors who self-published. As I briefly mentioned, publishing my poetry is how I got into it all, too. It’s pretty common.
Poetry, in general, doesn’t sell well. So if you self-publish, make sure you do it for the right reasons and be prepared to market in order to move copies.
Poetry might be how you decide to start your publishing journey, and if you do you’ll end up learning a lot. This could prove beneficial if you move to other types of books.
Back in the Stone Age before the advent of the ebook, I self-published a spoken word collection to support my performance poetry. It was a really great experience. There’s something fulfilling and cathartic about seeing your work in print and it didn’t matter to me that it wasn’t through a publishing company. It was my own.
I’ve been toying with the idea of self-publishing a novella in an ebook format lately. I kind of look at it this way – I write for the joy of writing not the publishing credit or the paycheck. Also, I kind of figure that my first time doing anything is pretty likely to be a flop. My first time out with a novel, I’d rather have the freedom to practice and experiment than feel pressured to get it perfect. With self-publishing, if I flop, it’s a learning experience not a potential career changer.
Vanity Publishing vs. Indie Publishing
I’m sure some will argue with me here (so what else is new?) but I’ll go out on a limb and say that vanity publishing is so very different than indie publishing. Vanity publishing is paying someone to publish your book. Not a small administrative fee, but a large fee, one that you probably will never be able to get back.
Indie publishing doesn’t need to be this way. Ebooks are virtually free to publish. If you start your own publishing company, you can do print on demand and get books out very inexpensively. The publishing and distribution part of things is not the most expensive piece. To me, getting proper cover art and editing is much more expensive than the actual publishing part of things. Get the proper information before you do it.
Many of you wrote to tell me that indie publishing was a way to get your platform and readership established.
Ian Roberts said:
In circumstances where it is very difficult to get the support of either a literary agent or commercial publisher, self-publishing – in spite of my earlier skepticism about what was called vanity publishing previously – has offered me a route to finding readers for my work and, more importantly, to receiving independent feedback. I don’t write to make money, but I do take what I do seriously and want to improve because I enjoy doing it.
Want to share your thoughts, opinions, and experience? We want to hear them all! Share what you know so we can all make better decisions about our own writing career.