Sunday, April 5, 2015

Indie Publishing Fears

I've spoken to a number of writers since deciding to go indie for my publishing choice, and there's a lingering fear amongst most to even think about going that route.  It's as if merely whispering about brushing off traditional publishers is some kind of taboo to not even be countenanced.

There are a few common themes that run through most writers' minds on this, so I thought I'd compile them into one big list:
1.  If I go indie, it means I've failed.  This is the most common fear.  Going indie strikes many writers as giving up on success and going the only route available.  According to most, the only reason one goes indie is because he or she wasn't good enough to get a "real" publisher.  Tell that to folks like Joe Konrath and Terry Goodkind - both were successful as traditionally published writers, and both got fed up with the way traditional publishers treated them.  I say that rather than go through the years of crapiness, preempt the garbage and go indie from the outset.

2.  I can't make any money if I go indie.  Another ENORMOUS falsehood.  In fact, this is ass-backwards.  Hugh Howey makes more in a month than most people do in a year...especially writers.  The vast majority of writers laboring under the yolk of a traditional publisher don't make enough to write full time - they have to have another job and keep hoping that they'll break through.  Indie writers, on the other hand, often out-earn their traditional counterparts even when they sell fewer books.  Let's be honest - without the distribution infrastructure of the traditional market, you're not going to get the exposure a traditional author would, but so what?  The royalty rates and payment schedules of traditional publishers render this moot.  As an indie author, you get nearly the entire pie, as opposed to a diet sliver given by a traditional publisher right before he pats you on the head.

3.  Agents and publishers will hate me if I go indie for even one book.  This is total horseshit.  Okay, maybe they'll hate you a little, but they won't excommunicate you.  Above all else, they exist to make money, and if you look like you can get them more greenbacks, they'll approach you.  How do you think Fifty Shades of Grey got started?  Don't you think publishers wish they'd had seen the potential of The Shack?  If you bring in money, traditional publishers will backseat their hatred, so long as they think you can make them more.  Just know that once you get approached, you now control the levers of power, so don't be seduced by a glitzy sales job - make sure it's the right thing to do and you won't lose money in the long run.

4.  Business and numbers scare me.  One of the greatest fantasies writers everywhere have is that if they make it big, they can just write while other people will worry about all that nasty "business stuff."  I hate to break it to you, but unless you're into getting screwed over, you need to have a working knowledge of business long before your book hits the stands.  Everyone involved, from your agent to your publisher to your editor, is in this to make a buck, and they'll squeeze every cent out of you they can.  Worse, they won't always be ethical about it.  However, without some knowledge of how the system works, how are you ever going to be able to throw out the bullshit flag?  And if you're going to know the details anyway, why not forgo all that extra garbage and do it yourself?

5.  People will laugh at my indie book.  Ah, the great shattering of the crystal ego of the writer - the worry you'll be laughed at.  First of all, this isn't 1995 anymore.  You can produce your indie hardcover with the same quality as a traditional publisher through any number of outlets.  Second, with the advent of ebooks, your work shows up the same on a Kindle as a book from Harper Collins does.  Third, if people want to laugh at you...I'm forced to ask what?  You're not going to be universally appreciated.  No one is.  You must accept that some people will think you're a moron for what you're doing.  Do it anyway.  Visionaries succeed where others fail precisely because they push through the ridicule.

Now that our fears are out there, maybe we can shed them together.

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