I is for Indie Author

Welcome back for another abecedarian blog post for the April challenge! Today, I thought I would talk about indie authors.

For those who may not know, “indie author” is a shorthand term for “independent author,” meaning those who self-publish or are published by a small press. Traditionally published (trad pub) authors work with larger publishing houses, like Harper Collins, Penguin Random House, and so on. There are also hybrid authors, which—unlike the hybrids I discussed in yesterday’s post—simply means the author is both traditionally published and an indie author.

Nope! Many authors have a desire to be signed with a larger traditional publishing house (particularly the “Big 5”), but everyone is different and has their own goals. Some authors may only want to write one book and be done, while others may be looking to pursue writing for publication long term.

Working with a trad pub house can offer benefits like advances, and they usually have their own in-house team that would handle the editing and cover design, as well as potential marketing on a small scale. But, most authors (except those who are bestsellers with notable careers) will need to market for themselves either way. Many authors do not realize this and hope to go trad pub to avoid the marketing portion. There are also some out there who want the clout they believe comes with being traditionally published, but as the years tick by, more and more people put less and less importance on it.

The cons include small royalties, long waiting periods before publishing, and lack of creative license—not to mention some recent shake-ups in the industry that have left many eyebrows raised. Many authors expect to receive smaller royalties, especially if getting a substantial advance (though all contracts and percentages differ), though few realize it often takes many months and often a year or more before their book will get through the process and actually be published. Also, they usually have limited say in the final cover design.

In essence, the cons are the direct opposite of trad pub. When you self-publish, you’re not going to be getting any advances, and it’s very uncommon with small, independent publishers. And you are solely responsible for editing, cover design, and book formatting, whether you do these tasks yourself or hire someone to do them. At least with the marketing, it’s essentially on even par.

But what attracts many authors to indie publishing greatly outweighs any cons—FREEDOM.

The ability to retain full control of every aspect of a book that you’ve poured your heart into, that may have brought blood, sweat, and tears, and that could have taken years to complete writing is priceless to many people.  You can choose an editor who understands and complements your style, a cover designer who can see your vision while making sure it suits your genre, and a book formatter who can take the interior design to a whole new level. While some of these things may take a little more time than you’d like, you have much more control over timing and publishing dates.

Did I mention that you get to keep ALL of your royalties?

Pretty much for all the reasons above. I like to maintain creative control, while keeping as much of my hard-earned profits as possible. Will I ever attempt to go trad one day to become a hybrid author? Maybe. For me, I’m happy either way, but it will depend on each book and my goals for each. I’m certainly not ruling it out, but it’s not something I’m pursuing right now.


6 thoughts on “I is for Indie Author

  1. There was a time when I wanted to be trad pubbed at all costs. But today I have very different views on my publishing journey.
    I alway say that indi publishing is more complex and more costly than many like to think, if you want to do it in a professional way, but it does give a lot more freedom, including the freedom to find a way to market stories that need unconventional marketing… and therefore will never be picked by a trad publisher.
    Great article. I loved it 🙂

    • Thank you very much! Freedom seems to always come at a price. And yes, so many new authors don’t realize that making something that looks professional is critical to success. Unfortunately, the costs can add up.

    • Have you ever asked them why they keep pushing that way? It could be because they’re under the impression that trad pub is superior, meaning indie authors aren’t good enough. It’s good that they support you, but you might want to find out their reasons – if that’s even important to you. I think aiming to be hybrid is a fantastic solution!

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