4 Reasons to Consider Indie Publishing

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on March 2, 2011 in Book Marketing & PR, Indie Publishing Basics
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[dropcap style="font-size: 37px; margin-top:-2px; margin-bottom:-10px; margin-right:2px; color: #9b9b9b;"]D[/dropcap]o you want to publish a book in print? Do you really need the backing and validation of a traditional publisher, or can you go it alone? Indie publishing is actually a balance more than the antithesis of a traditional publishing contract.

You choose the best people for your project.... You don't do everything entirely on your own. You choose the best professionals to help you bring your book to market and you buy or barter for whatever you need to make it happen. You can do so with the same editorial standards that are the norm with traditional publishing companies.

The difference is that you choose the best people for your project and you finance the development rather than passing off the financial responsibilities and giving up control to a publisher. Does that sound like something you're ready to pursue?

If you're still on the fence when it comes to deciding if indie publishing is right for you, here are a few things to consider.

  1. Bypass the waiting process. -- Publishers have their own schedules and multiple projects to manage. That can lead to a delay in your book going to market. Indie publishing lets you push through the process faster (although that doesn't mean putting out a half-assed rush job).
  2. Maintain creative control. -- Just because a publisher has a preferred cover art designer, typesetter, or editor in mind, it doesn't mean that person is the best fit for your project. You can release an even better book when you have the ability to choose the best people for the job. When you're the one footing the bill and making the decisions, you have the freedom to do that.
  3. Keep more of the earnings per book. -- It's no secret that authors with traditional publishers earn a very small fraction of the total selling price of each book. That's why you have to sell thousands or tens of thousands of copies to earn a decent income from your work as an author. And these days publishers expect you to do much (if not most) of the book marketing work. That means you have to try to make those thousands of sales. When you indie publish your book you earn a far higher profit per book. Since you're still the one responsible for marketing that book, you can ease up a bit. You don't have to sell nearly as many books under this model to earn the same amount (and more) than you would with a traditional publisher. Less work, more money. If you're the entrepreneurial type, this decision would make the most sense.
  4. Test markets or sell to limited markets. - If you're publishing in a fairly new niche, you might not have a lot of market research available that's relevant to your new market. Indie publishing allows you to issue a limited first print run so you can test markets before committing to something more dramatic. It's also a good option if you're knowingly targeting a small niche market -- one so small that traditional publishers have no interest in pursuing it (or your book).

In no way do these represent all of the benefits of indie publishing or mean that there aren't also drawbacks. To go about it professionally for example, you'll need to spend money. You can't legitimately do everything that needs to be done on your own -- not in the most effective ways possible at least. You'll also have to deal with the project management side of publishing. And yes, you'll have to put a lot of time into that dreaded thing called "marketing" (although these days traditional publishers expect you to do that anyway). In the end, it's about choosing what's best for you and your book.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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2 Comments

  1. Evelyn Lafont
    Evelyn Lafont March 2, 2011 Reply

    I think so many people have invested their energies in attaining the ‘dream’ of being published that they completely overlook the fact that the book THEY wrote is…well…THEIRS. It doesn’t have to only exist if a publisher or agent says that it does.

    Realizing the dream of having a book out for the public to consume doesn’t have to be a crying, begging, pleading process in which you give up total control. Just as you state above, it can be about the artist who created the work taking full control of everything and delivering THEIR vision, at its fullest, to readers.

    • Jennifer Mattern March 3, 2011 Reply

      Very true. I think the other side is true too though — that many writers think they’re somehow above needing third party validation of their work. They self publish because someone else told them “no” or because they think they know better than the people who suggest changes first.

      It’s a fine line. Having the control over the finished product is a great benefit of indie publishing. But it’s also a responsibility. Unless you’re willing to work with objective third party feedback to release the best book you can, I’d say you aren’t ready for that responsibility. We all need third party validation of some sort — whether it’s a publisher telling us we’re good enough or end consumers buying the books. If someone doesn’t need that validation in any way at all, they wouldn’t publish. They’d just write the books for themselves and leave it at that.

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