Celebrating indie publishing – guest post at Terri Giuliano Long’s

What do you celebrate about indie publishing? Freedom? Control? Why might someone who is represented by literary agents publish their own work?

All this week, bestselling indie author Terri Giuliano Long is holding a ‘celebrate indies’ event and I’m honoured she invited me as one of the guest posters. (I’m going to be dragging her here for an Undercover Soundtrack soon, about her award-winning novel In Leah’s Wake.) And her timing couldn’t be better because this week the UK’s Guardian newspaper finally published a post admitting that there’s a lot of good to be found in self-published books. (If you think so too, go and tell them!)

In the meantime, here’s my rallying cry at Terri’s – and you can also find out why I consider this much-editioned novel is a beacon for the indie publishing movement.

Do you think indie authors are gaining credibility? Share in the comments!

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  1. #1 by Stan R. Mitchell on May 2, 2012 - 7:14 pm

    A picture says a thousand words.

    That image was from yesterday. I’m a nobody, who just “self-published” his book three months ago. And it hit No. 28 on the paid, best-seller’s list on Amazon’s UK website under the genre of Westerns, where’s it competing.

    Above and below it were two Louis L’Amour books.

    And this comes from a skeptic. Four months ago I thought self-published people were a joke. That image is super-rapidly changing in everyone’s minds, as it should.

  2. #3 by Stan R. Mitchell on May 2, 2012 - 7:26 pm

    …where “it’s competing.”

  3. #4 by Wayne E. on May 2, 2012 - 7:58 pm

    I recently read a story in The New York Times about a sci-fi author who published his work via Amazon Kindle. He has sold well over $100,000 in books this year alone and I think he sells them for 99 cents each. He has been turning down offers from NY publishing houses because they are offering 18% and he gets 70% now with Amazon’s Kindle program. I think that indie authors will get more respect when we read about more authors rejecting offers from the NY publishing houses. Articles like the one I read in the NYT help indie authors gain credibility.

    • #5 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on May 3, 2012 - 8:11 am

      That’s a good point, Wayne – when authors are being offered deals and are choosing self-publishing, that certainly helps.
      I think what we need now is for the publishing press and the book-reviewing press to give indies a serious amount of review space.

  4. #7 by Wo3lf on May 2, 2012 - 11:04 pm

    As someone who grew up consuming L’Amour books, I’d like to congratulate you, Stan. It’s awesome.

  5. #8 by noelgama on May 3, 2012 - 8:23 am

    It’s the best time to be an indie author and/or an indie artist (I’m both:) – whether publishing ebooks on Amazon or mp3s on iTunes. Indie all the way!:)

    • #9 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on May 3, 2012 - 2:04 pm

      It’s certainly amazing what we can do now (nearly typed that as Amazon, in a rather Freudian slip…) What’s important is that we can get to readers in ways we never could before. The downside is finding the right readers – which isn’t easy

  6. #10 by Stella Deleuze on May 3, 2012 - 9:23 am

    At this point, I don’t think Indie are, no. As you said above, Roz, the publishing press or book-reviewers are still apprehensive and somehow, I don’t blame them. I feel like self-publishing is the new slush-pile. This time it’s the readers who have to wade through the masses. Then again, agents and publishing houses watch that market, which is a good sign.

    • #11 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on May 3, 2012 - 2:06 pm

      Hi Stella! That’s a phrase we’re hearing a lot – self publishing is now the slush pile. Also, the publishing press aren’t incentivised to give indies a chance – we don’t come from publishing houses that might buy adverts, so our output is low down the priority list.

  7. #12 by jennymilch on May 3, 2012 - 2:10 pm

    I think indie publishing has already gained legitimacy in a way that so-called vanity presses never did. First of all, there are the books that hang out in the long tail, ie, wouldn’t have a wide enough audience that a big house could feasibly publish them, but which are viable given the unlimited shelf life of an indie. And then there are the rare hits that come out of the indie scene, which were simply missed by mainstream publishing’s filter–an imperfect one by all accounts.

    That said, the higher royalties are a misnomer for two reasons. First, although you get a higher % per copy, those copies cost less. And second, the avenues of distribution are severely curtailed–no bookstores, libraries, drugstores, superstores, airports, novelty shops, etc. The royalties actually come out to be less per capita.

    So a lot depends upon how books continue to be distributed, whether the physical locales remain a major player.

    But even more I think depends on how the upcoming surge in releases is handled. There were 300,000 ISBN numbers sold in 2003, 3,000,000 in 2011–and 15,000,000 are projected for 2012. That’s an untenable amount of content, I believe–and unless some form of filtration can be applied, then I fear that readers may begin to associate indie titles with unedited, prematurely submitted content–and that will work against the exact sort of democratization from which we’re all benefiting now.

  8. #13 by Stan R. Mitchell on May 3, 2012 - 2:48 pm

    Wow, Jenny. That’s an insane amount of growth and something I’d never considered. But I think I’ve read before that even published print numbers have been growing through the years.

    Still though… In the end, I’ll always believe it comes down to writing a great book. You do that, and the readers will find you. No matter where you are.

    • #14 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on May 3, 2012 - 8:10 pm

      Ditto, Jenny. Those figures are phenomenal. It shows how we need gatekeepers – or perhaps they should be called curators – more than ever. How will readers know which books are worth trying?

      Stan, I thoroughly agree that it starts with writing a good book. But I don’t think that automatically guarantees readers will come. There must be acres of good books out there – however published – that I would absolutely love but I haven’t found my way to. Discoverability is a real problem – I wish it wasn’t.

      And BTW, I was talking to my agent about this and he said one thing publishers are grateful for is the fact that good writers find it so hard to get their books ‘discovered’ without a publisher’s help. This is the one thing that’s keeping their business viable, the fact that we lack the resources and relationships to put our work in front of people who will like it. (That doesn’t mean a publisher always gives you that help, of course, but they have the power to if they want to.)

      Your experience is indeed remarkable – and good on you. But it’s the very opposite of typical.

      • #15 by Stan R. Mitchell on May 3, 2012 - 8:22 pm

        You’re absolutely right, Roz, about discoverability. And I’d never considered how this is something that actually helps keep publishers viable. As usual, I learn the most fascinating stuff on your blog. : )

        And I hear, that there’s some hot red-head — what’s her name? Rita? Rose? Roxanne? — with an incredible background in the biz who can help you make it. : )

      • #17 by jennymilch on May 4, 2012 - 1:33 pm

        Even though it’s an imperfect system, often missing good (whatever that means) or saleable content, I have found the traditional publishing world to contain legions of passion and aptitude for making books better and better. When I was collecting rejections with tiny nuggets of feedback that helped me learn, and finally an acceptance and the resultant editorial letters, I have been made a better writer for the accumulated wisdom there. So I think publishers steer us to content as your agent suggests–but so much more that I hope they don’t have to feel like they’re defending their place. However indie pubbing goes on to thrive–and I hope it does–I wouldn’t want to get rid of the companion path.

        • #18 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on May 7, 2012 - 9:46 am

          Me too, Jenny – the feedback I’ve had over the years from publishing’s wise old birds has been genuinely useful.

    • #19 by jennymilch on May 4, 2012 - 1:28 pm

      You said it, Stan. I couldn’t agree more with this. There are great books from both sources–and lousy ones, too, of course.

  9. #20 by jonirodgers on May 7, 2012 - 4:11 am

    I agree with Jenny about the advancing credibility of indie publishing. Readers are getting more savvy about spotting spam and amateur stuff. I also agree with the Guardian article about author collectives being the wave of the future. The power of a branded coalition is that rising tide that floats all the boats.

    • #21 by rozmorris @dirtywhitecandy on May 7, 2012 - 9:46 am

      Hi Joni.. you took the words right out of my next blog post!

      • #22 by jennymilch on May 7, 2012 - 11:49 am

        Can’t wait to read it (of course), Joni!

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