THREE YEARS AGO I sat down with a friend who worked for a publishing company. I had gobs of questions for him about how to publish my book. The picture he painted for me was very discouraging–two years of sending out manuscripts with stacks of rejection letters. Even if a publisher signed me on, since I am an unknown author, they would provide little if any cash advance.
Plus, I would mostly have to market the book on my own until I had shown my ability to sell. Only then would the publisher step in and help more. Even though legimate publishers have established distribution channels, I left the coffee shop with images of my garage chock-full of books waiting to be sold and a feeling of hopelessness. It definitely halted my rush to finish the book.
Lucky for me it took a few more years to complete my book and in that time a totally different publishing world has emerged. Today a successful independent author is no longer an imaginary creature like a unicorn or a fairy. The key element to this success is putting out a polished and professional product to be able to compete with the traditionally published books that are in the marketplace. It is crucial in this market to hire an editor and create a high-quality book cover. For more tips see this post.
Five More Awesome Reasons for Going Indie:
1. Independence – I’ve always worked better with a big-picture goal and no one breathing down my neck. As an Indie author I have no one asking for a draft or cramming deadlines down my throat. This whole journey has been a free creative process without outside pressure to perform or deliver. I think my novel is so much better for it, too.
I hear authors talking about writer’s block. I can honestly say I’ve never had writer’s block because if I wasn’t in the mood to write, I’d work on the plot outline, or character backgrounds, or something related to the book. I have worked hard at every turn of my novel to surprise my readers, to keep them on the edge of their seats. For me that is a craft that takes time, takes thought and bursts of writing and pausing to develop the next layer.
2. New Ideas – There is a marketing term that researcher use – Innovator – and describes someone who is at the forefront of their peer group for trying new products regardless of the price. I think this describes me to a tee. I have been very innovative with my writing, with my marketing and the spin-off projects I’m working on. A majority of my jobs have been working closely with new technology, new ideas, and or new practices. I love change and can turn on a dime to take advantage of a new way of doing something or a new technology offering solutions in a unique way.
It is the same thing with the indie market. Look at the market just six months ago. We now have the traditional publishing market turned on their ear scrambling for market share against the rising tide of indie authors. See my guest blog that outlines our recent climb to the top of the heap of the e-books market here. What it will be in another six months? The big publishers will continue to fade away if they don’t change their business practices and big players are developing as we speak. I couldn’t be more excited to be in the heart of the Indie tide. In fact I’m innovating something as we speak for my novel, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise. It is still in the development stages but I cannot wait to get working on it.
3. Diversity – Being an Indie author takes a diverse set of skills to succeed. First of all you need to be a good writer. Pretty much a deal breaker – if you can’t write well you’re in for a rough ride. Another crucial element to being an author is marketing skills, because once your book is done the work really starts to get your book in the hands of your reader. You are completely in charge of that as an indie author. To succeed you need a giant serving of perseverance and a thick skin.
Understanding the book market – eBooks and otherwise – is also as important as any of these other skills. I love the challenge of being and indie author. My destiny is in my capable hands and my success will be measured by my actions not anyone else’s. My efforts, or lack thereof, are the key to making it and to me there is nothing more exciting than to create something out of nothing with my skills, my blood, sweat and tears and succeed at it.
4. Instant Gratification – I still can’t get over the fact that I can write something today and have it out in the world in a few hours. Conveniently I can also take it down and fix it without a lot of hubbub. Not that I’m planning on doing that but it does take away some of the pressure when you go to release the book. I love the flexibility of being an indie author. One thing that excites me about this flexibility is that you can make a few edits to your novel to take advantage of trends.
For example, my book is about hurricanes and time travel. I could pull the book down and change all the details about the hurricane to capture a new storm that just devastated an area, or do a quick rewrite to include new findings in time travel. Such flexibility is very intoxicating.
5. Endless Possibilities – The learning curve for publishing your first book is steep, but once you’ve mastered the basics of Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the other e-book providers, marketing, promoting, social media, print books, etc., the skills are there and you’ll only get better as you go along. The potential to use these skills for other projects is boundless. Here are some of the projects I’m working on are using the same skill set.
- Books – My novel Stealing Time will be out in December. I have my second book in the series halfway written and book three partially mapped out. When I get the chance, I want to focus on this stupendous idea for a children’s book. I’ve been chewing on it for about ten years and I think it will be completely unlike anything out there.
- Book Covers – As an Indie author I was really bothered by some of the covers my cohorts were using for their books. Last winter I decided to partner with a professional photographer, Jody Smyers, to start a business to provide custom covers for authors. Check out our site here: Blondie’s Custom Book Covers. We are excited to provide a highly professional alternative at a reasonable price for indie and other authors. See here for a guest post on how to create a winning book cover. In the process of creating covers for authors I had to find models. Since then I’ve signed on fifteen people of all ages who are ready for anything that may come up. I’ve become quite good at approaching strangers to ask if they want to be on a book cover, much to the chagrin of my children. Over the summer Jody and I shot six of these models for stock photos.
- Fitness Calendar — One of our models is a physique show competitor and he introduced us to a number of other men in competition. The models were so good we are now in the process of finalizing a fitness calendar called ‘Men of Steel.’ We will be selling this calendar soon on Amazon using the same social media contacts (over 10,000 across several platforms). How is that for using the old bean for endless possibilities? We’ve already found models to shoot an all-female fitness calendar for next year and hope to do a nature calendar and who knows what else we’ll come up with.
Please take a minute to tell me your Indie thrills and spills in the comments section. You can see how enthusiastic I am about this market, I’m very curious to hear more about your experiences.
Thank you Jeri for once again allowing me to write a guest post for your blog. I’m thrilled with the responses on my last three posts and hope to be invited back soon. My last post was picked up by Where Writers Win for publication on their site. It has been a great honor to meet the other authors and bloggers that visit your site regularly. Jeri is in the process of editing my book right now so stay tuned for more when it comes out in December.
Permission must be granted by KJ Waters to use the images in this post.