Indie author Chris Kelly is hosting a blog carnival around the topic of “Why I went indie.” Since it’s a topic that’s really on my mind this week, it seemed an ideal post topic and a sign to participate.
I didn’t plan to go indie in the beginning. I’ve been off and on pursuing traditional publication since I was 15. Still have those first rejection letters somewhere. Of course in the intervening fifteen years, publishing changed a lot. Having a web presence and a platform became vital. So Forsaken By Shadow started out as a means to start building an audience. Originally it was going to be free. But of course you can’t release things for free on Amazon if you’re not a publisher. So I listed it for a buck. There and everywhere else.
Between making the decision to put something out there on my own and actually GETTING it out there, I got into ebooks myself as a reader. And the publishing industry started going through radical changes, even before the economy tanked. Rather than looking at ebooks as the next phase of publishing, the big houses looked at them as a threat and have done every conceivable thing to sabotage them–delaying release, pricing them ludicrously, giving authors a pittance in terms of royalties. Agents and editors started telling their existing authors, “Keep your day job.”
I think that’s part of what did it for me. I hate my day job. That was part of yesterday’s unplugging, the details of which do not belong on the internet. But end result, I hate my day job, I’m tired of working multiple jobs, and I want to write for a living. If New York’s traditional publishers are not going to enable me to do that, are going to wrest creative control from me, dick around with my rights, have final say over title and cover art, and still expect me to do all the promo, exactly WHY should I be looking at them? Yeah, I couldn’t think of any reasons either.
Going indie eliminates the wait while my book gets caught up in the cogs of the slow publishing machine (which still manages to have ridiculously short turn arounds for deadlines, I hear), such that it may be 2 or 3 years before a book that gets accepted actually gets put out. Going indie allows me to get it out 2-3 months after I finish the first draft (depending on how much is needed in revisions). Which means that in that 2 or 3 years during which New York would manage to get out ONE title, I will be able to get out at least 3+ (assuming 1 full length novel a year and not looking at all the novellas I’ve been writing lately). And maybe my following will be built grassroots style and slower, but more titles equals more exposure. And given that I get to keep a much higher percentage of my royalties and don’t have to split it with middlemen, it seems that I just might make more money faster by doing it on my own. And that means I just might be able to eventually quit the dreaded day job and work from home writing and teaching online (which has been the practical end-game all along and why I’ve been working multiple jobs for the last 4 years–well, apart from the money to pay stuff off).
Viva la revolution!
To your comment about your following “built grassroots style and slower”, I would add that a following via traditional publishing is built more or less the same way. Fans find your work and spread the word.
Thanks for a well-articulated post for why Indie publishing makes sense.
You’re absolutely right. They do. I guess I was thinking best case scenario by which publishing houses at least do SOME kind of media promo for their authors. 🙂
Sometimes I think part of the reason I went indie is because the idea of having a day job for the rest of my life terrifies me. (I know this will probably happen anyway but I try to imagine I’ll earn enough through writing to support my family one day.) And those stories of writing groups full of older people who have spent their whole lives trying to be published with no success really scare me. I’d rather put all of my effort into doing it myself and know that if I fail, at least I did everything I could rather than hope somebody else did, if that makes sense? I suppose I don’t trust anyone else enough to put my writing career in their hands. I’m not very good at waiting around for things to happen and not knowing if they ever will.
Oh honey, I am right there with you. Those groups of older people who put their “writing career” on hold for practical jobs and family scare the crap out of me. I can’t fathom waiting my WHOLE LIFE to do what I love. So I stress myself out by doing it on top of all the job and family stuff. But still, I am a helluva lot more invested in myself than any New York publisher would be. They only care about the bottom line as they see it. I have my own definition for success, and that’s going to be making enough money to walk in and say to my boss one day, “I quit.”
Exactly. Nobody’s going to be as interested in me succeeding as I am. So nobody’s going to put as much effort in. I think I might be unveiling myself as a complete control freak today actually!
You can join the support group. Hi, I’m Kait and I’m a founding member of the Obsessive Compulsive Writers Association…
Hi, Kait, you blooming pest. 🙂
You were supposed to let me know you wanted in the carnival.
It’s okay; I noticed your post. I will include it anyway.
Blame it on lack of caffeine. It was on my to do list…
Kait, I’m not a writer but I am an avid reader. I’ve recently started reading ebooks and have found some fabulous indie authors that way! To the extent that I can’t tell you the last paper book I bought. Oh wait, I can! I only buy Lora Leigh, J.R. Ward, Shelley Laurenston and Nalini Singh in paper all the rest are ebooks. I also hate the trend to print in hardback half way thru a series! I don’t even look at the big name publishers any more. The stories by indie authors are way more creative and less cookie cutter! Love all you indie writers! You keep writing like you do and I’ll keep buying! And recommending you to my friends!
Thank you Susan! We love readers like you! I am with you on your list of to buys…though I have not tried Shelley Laurenston…will add her to the list. Am IMPATIENTLY waiting for the third archangel book by Nalini Singh in March.
If you haven’t read Shelley Laurenston you don’t know what you’re missing. Definitely wanting the next archangel book and Psy/Changeling book. I’m always looking for new authors to fill the waiting space between books by favs and have found many and I share the names with my ebook reading friends. I found your book that way and am EAGERLY awaiting YOUR next book!
I’m on hold for the first Psy/Changeling book at my library, so looking forward to that too.
I’m working on a short that I hope to release in a couple of months, then a second novella about the same length as FBS by Christmas (I hope). So glad you’re looking forward to it!
“But end result, I hate my day job, I’m tired of working multiple jobs, and I want to write for a living. If New York’s traditional publishers are not going to enable me to do that, are going to wrest creative control from me, dick around with my rights, have final say over title and cover art, and still expect me to do all the promo, exactly WHY should I be looking at them? Yeah, I couldn’t think of any reasons either.”
I love that part of your post! I feel the exact same way, even though I do actually like my current day job. Even so, I do want to eventually make my writing my full time day job. Ahh, that would be a dream come true. 🙂
My ultimate dream is to be a stay at home writer who makes enough money to put the kids in day care. 😀
I agree with you 100%, Kait. Above all else, the idea of leaving the fate of my work in the hands of someone else scares the bejeebers out of me.
Actually, that’s not true. It is more annoying than scary. Why put forth just as much effort to publish traditionally and only reap some of the rewards?
I am betting that, within the next eighteen months, the big six publishers will become the big five, with more mergers and acquisitions to come in the next few years. The number of traditionally published titles will either shrink or several of the big guys will opt to publish a big chunk of titles in eBook only … eventually. Self/indy/small house published books will continue to grow at an exponential rate.
A lot of people keep bellyaching about bad indie books when they should be far more concerned with the good ones.
Times they are a changing, and I can’t wait to see where we all are this time next year.
I think it’s a really exciting time to be an indie–and a really scary one to be a traditionally published author unless you are already a household name. I’m hoping to have 3-4 titles out by this time next year, and be well on my way to a solid fanbase.
Fantastic post! Love it.
I didn’t always hate my day job (though sometimes I did), but my day job got taken away from me. Twice. I thank the economic times in which we live.
But as hard as things have been on myself and my family the last couple of years, there’s a part of me that thinks “getting let go was the best thing to ever happen to me.” At least as far as my writing goes.
Keep on rockin’ all you indies.
Ha, Ty, I understand that feeling. I have a slight disability (a weakness in my arm that means I’m not supposed to do any heavy lifting) so lost the warehousing job I’d had for years in January. The thing about a regular income is, as much as you hate it (and I was seriously depressed working there) you don’t want to lose it.
When it was taking away from me I could only really see one option, signing on as unemployed. I checked the websites of local colleges, and found one that offered a beginning film making course. Completely on a whim I phoned them.
They were reluctant to let me in as its really a course for 16-18 year olds. I explained I wasn’t even really sure how to turn a camera on, and they interviewed me. At the interview I calmly explained to them that not only was I going to pass the course, but I would pass it with such high marks that I could skip the next level course and go straight to the HND.
I did. Of the next level course above mine only one person got onto the HND, and he had difficulty getting there. This is a course that people who have worked for the BBC for years come to learn different skills from what they have. It’s one of the best courses of its kind in Scotland, and six months ago I’d never used a camera.
We are worse off right now. Financially things are very tough. But I have never been happier. I got a summer job this year, and it made me realise I don’t want to work for other people, ever again. Whether I’m writing books or making movies, I don’t want to work for people.
As long as you have a plan, you work hard and you’re lucky, you can achieve any goal, no matter how unattainable it seems. And since I’m currently happier with less money, I won’t need to make much from self-publishing to stay happy.
Wow, that was long-winded. Sorry.
Yeah I live in Mississippi, so I don’t actually need to make as huge a sum to live off of as I would if I lived elsewhere. We have one of the lowest costs of living in the country (and the lowest wages to match).
“…I want to write for a living. If New York’s traditional publishers are not going to enable me to do that….”
This fragment of a sentence really stood out for me. Even, though this isn’t one of my reasons for going indie, it really does put the lie to all the anti-indie rhetoric out there. In the end, if traditional publishing isn’t going to allow most published writers to make a living, then what’s the point?
One cannot live on New York validation alone. 🙂
Right now I think indies have a greater chance at actually making a living off writing, than most writers that are stuck in the traditional model (excluding the top 1% the industry allocates 99% of their resources to).
“One cannot live on New York validation alone” — indeed!