This entry is a follow-up to last week’s post, which you can find here. Hopefully this entry is more Empire Strikes Back than Matrix Reloaded.
As promised, the second part of this feature will focus on what I believe are the three core benefits for writers taking the ‘indie’ route right now. There are already hundreds, probably thousands, of blog entries and articles weighing up the positive and negative factors of each, but this will instead be an attempt to show to you a more personal reasoning behind my decision. Before we start, if you aren’t familiar with the recent rise of indie publishing, @aliventures has recorded a brilliant series of debates on the matter, outlining the perspectives of both camps:
Oh, and a word on the ‘stigma’ of self-publishing. Sadly, there will probably always be stigma attached, in the same way that people stop eating at a restaurant because they find one of their own hairs in the food. You know what I say? Screw the stigma. Anybody with half an hour and a Google Search bar at their disposal has the tools to realise that not only is the internet changing the publishing landscape, but also the music and film industries too. It has been well documented time and time again, so I won’t go there.
Without further ado, here are the three primary reasons behind my decision to independently publish What We Saw:
1. Creative freedom – I have an active imagination. Ask anybody close to me about my dreams, and they’ll probably tell you I’m a madman. I interpret this as, ‘visionary’. However, when I’m not dreaming about armies of birds or laughing mud, I am coming up with ideas, sometimes consciously, often unconsciously. I would love to be able to commit these tales to paper one day, but sadly, traditional publishing restricts my potential output. I am a mystery/thriller writer, sure, but chances are, if I were signed, I’d be either, a.) forced to write two more very similar books to What We Saw, b.) forced to write What We See: The Sequel, c.) forced to write What We Saw: Now With Vampires! Self-publishing keeps my options open, albeit within the broad genre I love.
2. Audience engagement – I love you. Yes, you, a lovely fan who has taken the time to read this entry. Engaging with you all via Facebook, Twitter, and the blog, gives me a real buzz. Planning which content I will run in the future, gives me a buzz. Commenting, sharing, the whole lot: it gives me a buzz. Three buzzes might not be healthy, but what is these days? The level of freedom provided by taking the ‘indie’ route is unmatched. I believe that the basis of a good business, or authorial entrepreneur, is active engagement. Building trust with the audience. Not spamming links to purchase the book endlessly, or twiddling thumbs and waiting for the publishers to do all the hard work. Get involved! You might just find you enjoy it.
3. Royalties – I know that money shouldn’t be the primary motivation to write, but it should be a motivation nevertheless. Writing is our career; what makes it any less legitimate than a 9-5 job? I for one can truly say that I have often exceeded those hours, so we deserve a little something for following our gut and doing what we truly want to be doing, rather than what society wants us to do. Royalties, I believe, are better for self-published authors, because it cuts out the middle-man. They aren’t fantastic, but with the traditional route, once the publisher, the agent, and the cleaner have had their hands in the pot, you have very little to live on, especially if you are a debut author with minimal marketing support. Self-publishing offers the author the freedom of pricing their book, a key factor for me. Let’s face it: nobody pays £7.99 for a eBook, right? So why would you spend that amount on an unknown author, with only a publishing house to sing their praises? The answer is, you probably wouldn’t. Until the publishers find a way to price more competitively, this will long be a stumbling block.
Once again, I must reiterate that I have no real personal issues with the publishing industry. I’ve never had a rejection letter from them. I want them to succeed, because a balance between their commercial power and expertise, and the freedom of ‘indie’ publishing, means more good books for all.
Until that day, though, I know where my loyalties lie.