Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A-Z Challenge: I is for Indie

Whenever I hear the word "indie", I picture Harrison Ford running from Nazis. No, not that Indy! (Unfortunately...)

I is for Indie Publishing

I don't know very much about indie publishing: as you know, I've opted to take the traditional route to publication. But it's important to discuss all the options that are open to modern writers, so I wanted to use this opportunity to explore the other side of the publishing coin.

Recently, I connected with YA fantasy author S.M. Boyce on Twitter. I had the chance to read her debut novel, and now she's graciously agreed to come back to the blog for an interview.

Thanks for having me, Jen! I’m excited to do this interview. Guess I won’t hold us up with chit chat. Let’s get to it!

1. What is "Indie Publishing"?

Indie Publishing is one of two options an author has when they consider publishing their work: either go the traditional way of agents and publishing houses, or go it alone. The latter option is called indie, or self-publishing.

2. Why did you decide to go the indie route?

Trust me, it wasn’t an easy choice. I researched for weeks. I read books, discussions on the subject, blogs both for and against the indie route. I even wrote a mini-thesis discussing my decision. I’ll try to keep it as concise as possible because I could talk about this all day.

In the end, the scales were tipped towards indie publishing for a few reasons, the most important of which was the fact that most new authors aren’t supported by their publishers. All of the marketing is left for the new author to tackle on their own, and if they get enough sell-throughs (a ratio of books sold to books published) with that and the next few books, they’re considered for a bigger marketing budget. But only if those numbers look good. Otherwise, they’re stuck as a middle grade author selling barely anything. On top of that, I read articles and blog posts where quite a few authors claimed that their book was never or minimally edited. So I gathered from my research that (1) I wasn’t likely to get any marketing help, and (2) I wasn’t likely to get much in the way of editing.

So…by going traditional, I would pretty much be in the same boat as I would be as an indie: doing it myself. I figured it was silly for me to pay someone 82.5% of my royalties to do the work myself.

Now, dear reader, this might not be your experience. If it isn’t, I’d love to hear how things went for you. But based on my research and the discussions I continue to see online about the indie revolution, I feel like I made the right choice.

The next topic to consider was distribution. Traditional publishers had a monopoly on getting into brick and mortar bookstores, and going indie would mean I wouldn’t have that. That was a tougher choice to make. I’d always dreamed of walking into a bookstore and picking up a book. But the fact of the matter is that more and more people are turning to online book sales, and more and more brick and mortar stores are closing. It didn’t seem like a good business decision to ignore the other benefits of indie publishing for the chance to be on the bottom shelf in a bookstore.

3. What regrets do you have/things that you wish you'd done differently?

I wish I’d done more research on the marketing aspect of selling my book before I released it. As it was, I was so hell bent on releasing it that I didn’t pause to think about a blog tour, launch celebration, or even how I’d market it. I definitely recommend you have a marketing plan before you publish.

4. What advice can you give other authors?

In the age-old words of Joe Konrath, “don’t write crap.” It’s important that all authors – indie and traditional alike – give readers the highest quality. Get an editor. Write several drafts. Don’t publish it until you’re 110% happy with it.

Also, make sure you keep your thick skin. It’s hard to see negative reviews of something you put your life and soul into, but the fact of the matter is not everyone will like it. Shrug off the bad reviews, focus on the good, learn from your mistakes, and keep writing.

5. What's been the best part about going indie?

The autonomy. I have control over everything: the marketing, the website, the content, the cover…I love it. I’m a business-minded person, so I like to manage that sort of thing. But it’s also nice to make 70% royalties on my novel, have control over the price, and have the flexibility to adjust prices and promotions on a whim.

Thanks for having me! I’d love to continue the discussion in the comments. What do you guys think about indie publishing?

Thanks for the great interview, Boyce! It's really interesting to learn what your experience has been, and I'm so glad you feel like the choice you've made has been the best possible fit for you. That's what we all want as writers, right?

So, readers: what's your experience been with indie vs. traditional publishing?

Please take some time to connect with the other A-Z challenge participants!

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