Crossroads of Humanity

Dec 29, 2012

Indie and Proud of It

Sometimes it feels like I've wandered onto a battlefield when all I want to do is write, create, and polish my stories. To date, I've published two novels, and my third is literally days away from completion. Of course, I also like knowing that my stories are being enjoyed by readers everywhere. And some things I've come to love about Indie publishing, are the support networks I've stumbled upon and the friends I've made. What I like least is talk of Indies vs. the Big Six and readers vs. writers. As far as I can see, we're all in this together.

I chose to self publish, and all that really means is that I've chosen to self publish. Others choose to submit their work to contests, small publishing houses, or one of the Big Six. Thankfully, I've been told that readers don't really care how a book is published. I hope that's true. I like to think that people are smart enough to know their own tastes and to use features like free previews to check out merchandise before purchase.

I've chosen self publishing because I'm against big business. My work is mine, and I'm not about to give away my rights to some big corporation. Here is my written response to a publisher who wanted to know what I was looking for.

You asked me to let you know what I need from a publishing house. 

Since I am a teacher and the mother of a very young child, I would first need to know that I would be allowed to work at my own pace because my day job and my child must come first. My husband and I have worked out a schedule that allows me to focus on writing, editing, publishing, etc. an average of eight hours per week.

Second, I would need to earn a decent percentage of the profits. When I publish myself, I earn 70% of the royalties. I know a publisher can't offer me the same because when we share the work, we share the profits. Please let me know what your publishing house offers.

Third, I would require retaining the rights to my work: no changes without my consent and no changes to the cover art.

Finally, what I need the most help with is marketing and distribution, and I don't mean, "tell me what to do, and I'll do it."  I mean, I really need someone else running the show when it comes to marketing and distribution.

That publisher had a favorable response. They offered everything I'd asked for except marketing. Sadly, what good is all the rest if marketing isn't behind it?

No matter what my personal beliefs are, I don't harbor any negative feelings toward authors who choose to submit their work to a publishing house, even to one of the Big Six. That must be made perfectly clear. We're all in this together, all hoping for the same outcome, for our work to fall into the hands of readers, many readers. Overall, I believe what works best for one person isn't what's best for another. If you are a writer, you need to decide the best route for you.


  1. Sarah, you are truly a writer after my own heart. I believe you are the voice of Indie authors everywhere, and if you aren't, you should be. I love what you have to say here.

  2. The only good reason to go to one of the big 6 these days is the publicity machine they control but even they would admit they expect an Author to do a lot themselves in that direction. No matter what your preference as a writer, you'll be involved in promotion and publicity somewhere along the line. What you need to work out is whether what you receive in help is worth the big drop in royalties. 1000 books sold by a publishing house leaves very little for the author after edit costs,promotion costs and print costs are taken out while 1000 books sold as an Indie is a nice windfall.
    You're quite right though that there should be no Us and Then divide since we're all trying to make a living through writing.What we need to
    weigh up here is whether the time spent away from writing and on promotion and publicity is too much and should be given to the experts who can give you the exposure you need. But remember even that doesn't guarantee sales. There just isn't an easy answer.
    One possibility that may help the Indie Author is to join with others to retweet promotions to spread your name further. One group, ASMSG has enough Authors to retweet to over 1,000,000 followers which can't be bad. They can also review and in some cases interview in a very productive You scratch my back.......way. Being Authors of course means they're a great bunch of people who understand exactly what you want.
    Some of us will be lucky and become a hit, I hope 2013 turns out to be your year.