Monday, 7 May 2012

Indie publishing: The New Author - Doing It All

It used to be so simple. Excruciating, depressing, and usually doomed to failure - but simple.

The writer wrote a book then tried to find a literary agent to sell it. IF s/he found one and IF the book sold to a traditional publisher, all was well; being published brought its own trials, but s/he had crossed over onto hallowed 'published' ground. For the ones who did not succeed in selling to a traditional publisher, there were options: stop writing, write on in the hope that one day a publisher would be interested in something, or go the self-publishing route, often referred to as vanity publishing.

Publishing oneself, just a few years ago, was the mark of 'failed writer'. Reviewers wouldn't touch the books. Bookstores wouldn't buy them. Few readers knew they existed and many regarded them as poorly written, unedited 'slush pile' rejects. These blighted books piled up in boxes in authors' garages and slowly mouldered along with the dreams of their creators while the owners of vanity presses laughed all the way to the bank.

Much has changed in the space of a few years, fuelled by digital technology, the print-on-demand model, Amazon, e-readers, Smashwords, tablets, smart phones, social media - revolutionizing the way books are marketed and read. Bestselling, traditionally published authors are 'going indie', the new label that attempts to circumvent the pejorative connotations of the term 'self-publishing'. Indie authors are appearing on bestseller lists, even brand new indie authors.

When my agent sold my first book in 2007 I believed I'd follow the same pattern for every book I ever wrote: submit to agent, who would submit to publishers, who would take control of the works from there on out. I never thought I'd publish a book myself; that meant 'failed author', remember? I never thought I'd become a New Author.

What is a New Author? He or she:

  • Has been traditionally published at some point, or
  • Has never been traditionally published, or
  • Is both traditionally and indie published, or
  • Is an established writer who indie publishes only his or her backlist.
  • Makes all crucial decisions regarding his or her books, from cover designs to release dates, pricing to promotion.
  • Is often a writer, publisher, cover designer, editor and publicist, among other  things.
  • Is savvy enough to hire experts to do the jobs he or she can't do effectively such as cover design and formatting for various digital platforms.
  • Knows the value of professional editing and never puts a self-edited, sub-standard book peppered with errors on the market.
  • Earns royalties of 35-85 percent of sales compared to the 2-15 percent that obtained previously.

Are you a New Author? Are you doing it all? How is this working for you? Please share your stories with us.

Liane Spicer is the author of two contemporary romance novels, Café au Lait (Dorchester 2008) and Give Me the Night (2014). She also writes mainstream, literary and speculative fiction under a variety of pen names. Find her on Facebook and Twitter (@Wordtryst Press).