Yesterday I guest posted over at the lovely Darian Smith‘s blog about taking the plunge into self publishing. It was neat to be able to reflect on the things I’ve learned from the process, so why not head on over and give it a read?
We’re getting close to the end of February, and so far I have read six indie pieces for my reading challenge. I have a couple more novels lined up, and still need to review one, but all in all am making excellent progress.
When I signed up for this challenge over at Anna’s blog, I thought it would do two things for me. A) it would make me read at least 24 books this year and B) it would expose me to self published works again.
Some of you might remember that awhile back now, gee, 2009 I think? I was part of the group of readers at the e-fiction book club. We were exposed to quite a variety of work, but mostly? It wasn’t great. It left me thinking that indie reads sucked. That the people who were self publishing were in some instances delusional about the quality of their work – and ultimately, that the gatekeepers of the traditional publishing industry were NEEDED.
Skip forward in time to 2010/11 – I know things have changed. I’ve read traditionally published books that I thought were complete rubbish. I know that there are a lot of good writers going the Indie route, but I really needed to dive in and explore what was out there for myself. Which is where this challenge has come in handy.
So far I have been pleasantly surprised. Only 1/6 of the stories has been really not great, in my opinion, the rest have ranged from good to fantastic. This is probably about the same ratio I have found in the traditionally published books I’ve read over the same period of time. Hell there was one trad published book I couldn’t even finish because it was so bad – I’ve not stopped reading any of the indie books.
I think it is this – this similarity of quality – which has really pushed me closer to going indie myself. Up until now I have been planning to release the novella myself, and other novellas, but haven’t committed to self publishing a novel (let’s be honest here – I don’t know what novel I will be working on in the near future. I have so many options, and right now, I just can’t make up my mind!). But you know what? When I figure out what it is, chances are very high that I won’t even bother submitting it to agents/publishers. It makes way more sense to me to release things myself, to retain control and ultimately be responsible for my own success or lack of.
Even a year ago I would have been scared by that, but not now. There is so much positive energy going around at the moment, and it’s impossible not to want to be a part of that. I feel empowered, and encouraged – something I never felt when I was sure I had to do this the traditional way.
Just because something is traditionally published, it doesn’t mean it’s good. Just because something is indie published, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. There are amazing books out there, waiting to be read, and I am thankful that those indie authors I know and are becoming familiar with are working so hard to raise the bar. Professional covers, well edited books, and a wider range of stories available. Great stuff!
Anyways, better get back to my own writing huh? If I want to get this novella done and out into the world, I need to work hard and make sure it’s the VERY BEST that it can be! Exciting times, folks. Exciting times.
Today I have a guest blogger – Amy Rose Davis. Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by 🙂
When I first decided to pursue publication as an independent author, I was met with some… interesting comments. Most of my family and friends thought it was a great plan.Many of my commercial writing cohorts encouraged me as well, seeing it as a natural extension of what I was already doing (freelance commercial writing).
But within the writing community, I got a lot of German Shepherd looks. You know—head tipped to one side, confused, with an ear cocked up, wondering what language I was speaking. “Don’t give up on publication—keep querying. You might be lucky. And what about editing? You need editing. Everyone does. And people don’t buy self-published books. There’s too much crap out there.”
Well…. I’m two months into my indie author journey (almost—my novella Silver Thaw went live on December 15, 2010), and people are… Buying my books. And giving them good reviews. And talking about me and recommending me to their friends.
So, in keeping with Cassie’s ABC Challenge this year (I was the “D” on her list), I thought I’d take a moment to try to dispel some of the myths around indie authors.
Myth: Self-publishing is a last resort. Actually, although I made a very few brief attempts at querying last spring, I decided to go the independent route fairly early in my publication journey. I started reading about people like Joe Konrath, Karen McQuestion,Colleen Houck, Zoe Winters, Brian S. Pratt, and the like, and I thought if they could have some success, then I could, too.
Myth: People who self-publish are bitter about publishing in general. No, not really. I’m not bitter. I think the query system is outdated. I think the publishing industry as awhole operates on a largely inefficient and broken business model. I think traditional publishers are slow to adapt. But I’m not bitter. I just made a choice about what I thought was the best route for my own work. There are some bitter authors who self-publish, but there are bitter traditionally published authors, too.
Myth: Self-published authors can’t write. This one is tricky, but it’s a huge generalization based on the work churned out by vanity presses over the years. Yes, itis true that there is a LOT of self-published stuff out there that is very low quality, but that is changing rapidly. There are a lot of very competent writers out there who have chosen to go independent for a huge variety of reasons. Many of these folks have had short stories published in traditional publications. I did. Plus, I worked for several yearsas a freelance commercial writer. I know a lot of indies have experience as marketers, ghostwriters, and other such folk in the writing world.
Myth: Self-published authors just slap up the first piece of junk that exudes from their deluded minds. Let’s call this the corollary to the myth above. I know there is a lot of self-published junk out there, and it’s quite possible that much of that junk is first draft quality from people who have a lot to learn about writing. But, all of the independent authors I know take great pride and care in putting out the best stories they possibly can.They have beta readers, critique partners, and editors. Those folks may be unpaid—probably are—and they may also be unpracticed in craft, but it’s unfair to say that indie authors don’t bother to polish their work.
Myth: People who self-publish spend thousands of dollars to put out their own work. Not true. So far, with a block of 10 ISBNs, a couple of copyright registrations, a few stock images, and a little bit to a brilliant graphic designer, I’ve spent less than$1,000 in out-of-pocket dollars. Far less, in fact. Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes &Noble make it really easy to upload your work. With a little time and a good guide, even the most technically ungifted (like me!) can upload a professional-quality manuscript and begin selling right away.
Myth: Self-publishing is the easy way out. Holy cow, I want this one to die a horrible and painful death! No, no, no—a thousand times, no! The concept that people who self-publish are just looking for an easy path or just want to skip all the “hard stuff” is so false it’s not even funny. The indie authors I know—the ones who are making it—spend huge amounts of time on things that aren’t even related to writing. They see this route as a business that requires marketing, accounting, advertising, branding, managing, sub-contracting, and on and on. Being a serious indie author who is dedicated to success is not for the faint of heart.
Two months into my journey, and I’m not getting rich (yet!). But, Ravenmarked is selling, and it is getting good reviews. So far, no one has said I can’t write and I need an editor. If I were querying, I’d not have sold a single book yet. And my novella? There are very few markets even willing to look at stories of that length anymore. Self-publishing is helping stories of unusual lengths find homes they might not have found otherwise.
Is being an indie author for everyone? Nope. I have a lot of friends who would rather pursue traditional routes to publication, and I’m fine with that. It’s a very personal decision, because going indie is not an easy road. For me, it was a natural fit. I have creative control, I get better royalties, and I feel like I’m driving my own destiny.
Amy Rose Davis is an independent epic fantasy author. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Bryce, and their four children. Bryce provides comic relief, editing, and inspiration, and regularly talks her off the various ledges she climbs onto.
Amy is an unapologetic coffee addict, but her other vices include chocolate, margaritas, and whiskey. She prefers cats to dogs (but houses both), loves the color green, and enjoys the smell of new pencils and crayons. She has eclectic tastes in friends, music, and books, and is as likely to watch 300 as Becoming Jane.
Amy’s books are available in all major e-bookstores.
My history with indie publishing is a bit shaky, in that I’ve read a lot of really bad self-published books. I know there are plenty of good ones out there though, and I’m hoping that this challenge will help expose me to some of those excellent indie authors, and it will mean I make good use of my Kindle (when it arrives anyways, which is not for a few weeks yet, as well as giving me a good idea of how it’s done, seeing as I am planning on indie publishing Mocha Nihilism next year.
So, if you are an indie author who thinks I should check out their stuff, let me know! And if you have some fav indie authors, then feel free to make suggestions.
The goal is to read 24 indie longer-length pieces of fiction in a year, according to the following guidelines:
I’ll be setting up a page soon to keep track of how I’m doing. I think it’s going to be fun filling up my list and exposing myself to some new writers. I have been devouring books lately, and want to continue the trend!
I’m going to self publish the novella.
It’s something I’ve contemplated for awhile, and I think a novella is the perfect way to dip my toes into the self publishing world. Very soon I am going to have a really fun, enjoyable novella complete and ready for an audience. Initially I’d planned simply to give this to some of my friends and family for a Christmas present, but it seems like an awful waste to limit it’s audience like that.
So I read Linda’s post, then had a look around at e-publishers and print markets to see if there was anywhere it might fit. The markets are limited, and really? Most E-publishers aren’t offering great royalties, you have to do the bulk of the marketing yourself anyways, I might as well retain full creative control and do it all. I am not afraid of being accountable for the outcome, whether it’s positive or negative – in fact, either way, it’s a learning curve and I’ll get SOMETHING out of the process.
So there we have it. I’m excited by the prospect of having something more substantial than a short story out in the world, available to the masses. I’ve got a lot of work to do before it’s ready to launch, but the pieces seem to be falling into place. I have ideas for the cover, and a willing model to help me bring it to life, ideas about promotion and marketing – it really is exciting. I’ve made the decision to go e-book only, and realize I am thereby cutting out many friends and family who only do print books – but that’s a choice I can live with.
What about you? Ever thought of self pubbing? I am still going to try the traditional route with my next novel, but in the meantime, it’s really very exciting to be doing something towards getting my words in the hands of others.