Those who have made the choice to be independently published authors often get skeptical or disapproving looks from friends and relations because the world of indie authors is still so new and misunderstood. Often the attitude is that “You’re not a real author because you didn’t get picked up by a publisher”. Here are a few things that such folks might wish to consider before they dismiss indie author efforts. (Feel free to share this article with them!)
Indie authors get creative.
Because they are not catering to a commercial publisher, they can mix genres and speak to niche interests that traditional publishers would not back because they wouldn’t make enough profit in an easily marketable sector. Indies also include or exclude elements that traditional publishers might oppose. I’ve been thrilled to see how many indies can write thrillers without gore or romance novels with erotic scenes. Publishers don’t want those books, but readers do!
Indie authors get paid considerably higher royalties than traditionally published authors.
For example, Amazon pays 35-70% to its indie authors compared to 10-20% by the “Big House” publishers. Some authors formerly published by big companies have actually chosen to take their work indie so they can get paid better.
There are indie books out there that are just as good as any NY Times Best-Seller.
The fact that a publisher “picked up” a book is no guarantee of quality in either direction. I’ve read indie books that should have been Newberry Award winners or made into the next big movie franchise. Just because something is famous doesn’t mean it’s brilliant. (You’ve seen the Kardashians, right?)
Indie authors are not wannabes or losers.
They are people who wrote a book. That is an amazing endeavor, and it costs a lot in time, energy, sleep deprivation, sanity, and stimulants like chocolate and caffeine. They are people who had a vision and then went out and did it! The only other people who do this kind of thing voluntarily are completing advanced degrees of education, and then it’s called a dissertation.
Indie authors are amazingly accessible.
Since they have to do their own publicity, they are on social media, and they want to engage. Unlike mega-famous authors who can’t be bothered with their fans, indie authors eagerly converse with their readers through FB, Twitter and other venues.
Indie authors typically keep their day job.
Writing is time-consuming, but it doesn’t usually pay a living wage unless your book is made into a movie. Considering an indie author a failure because they still work at the office is like expecting everyone to make great revenues from the hobby that gets squeezed in to the hours between work, sleep and other commitments (like family).
Indie authors are usually on a tight budget.
Cover designers, proofreaders, and publicists all cost money. If purse strings are tight, an author may try to do them without “professional” help, but it doesn’t mean the story is not worth reading. Society still judges a book by its cover, but that’s particularly unfair in the indie author world.
Traditional publishers and literary agents often process literally hundreds of queries a week.
If an indie author tried and “failed” with that route, it most likely does not reflect anything on the book itself, but rather their inability to write a gripping query letter that describes their creation in 300 words or less. That, as any author will tell you, is harder than writing the novel. In most cases, the manuscript in its entirety never made it to the hands of any official reader in the publishing world, so the book itself was not rejected, just the info on the dust cover.
There are literally millions of books available for purchase.
Even an Amazon sales ranking in the 5-digits (like #25,623) represents a book that is in the top 1% of sales. Expecting an indie book (or any book) to be in the top 10 or 100 for weeks on end is unrealistic.
Please remember that good reviews and stars are gold to indie authors.
A book with solid positive reviews has more credibility than one without. Leaving a pleasant, or at least constructive review, really helps. Blasting a book without giving specifics helps neither potential readers nor the authors. Reviews also help negate any bias caused by the whole “cover” issue. But getting any kind of reviews mean people have to read the books, and that often means indie authors have to give away many free copies just to get those stamps of approval on their work.
Indie authors write because they love writing and have stories to tell, not because they’re trying to meet a publisher’s deadlines and requirements. They are–as the word implies–independent. And that’s a good thing. So many people have stories to tell, yet they never thought anyone would listen. Indie authors are proving that wrong. They are busting open the doors and paving the way for your masterpiece to shine.