With the digital tsunami of e-Publishing and Indie publishing platforms re-sculpting the way we write, read, buy and sell books, it makes sense for authors, both aspiring and published, to hop on the Independent-publishing (Indie) bandwagon, right?
Wrong. There are still a lot of writers out there pursuing the traditional publishing route of getting signed on by a royalty paying publisher, while there are Indie pubs who’d have it no other way. They thrive on the freedom to hands-on manage their work, from editing, formatting, cover art to marketing.
Then there are contracted authors, like myself, who have books contracted with a publisher while embracing their inner Indie with a cuddle and a big kiss on the cheek. That said, it’s not all peaches and cream, this Indie gig. So why do it?
In the summer of last year, I submitted my sensual-themed, novel-length island romance to a major publisher for review. While in Hawaii visiting family, I got the rejection letter for Bargain Bride, Billionaire Groom. My husband texted me a photo of the letter, and this is what it feels like to get one of those babies–bleak and yucky. Bleh!
While it wasn’t the first time I’d been rejected, it was a pivotal moment in making me look at other options for this story, especially since I had three already written.
My Indie-pubbed friend had also experienced positive results publishing her novel using Amazon’s Kindle platform. She suggested going Indie with my own line of books.
The idea of having a foot in the publishing industry as a contracted author, and the other as an independent publisher, held powerful magick! The thought of being able to offer up my works in paperback version to die-hard paperback readers, too? Irresistible.
But wait—wouldn’t it be nice (amazing!) to sell, and write for, another publisher that commanded a huge reader pot? Hells to the yeah! It’s a dream for many writers. But the submissions process of going the traditional route was losing its luster for me. Why? A writer looks at 3 months for a reply to a query (I once waited 9 months, only to get a form rejection letter, and some publishers don’t want you to have multiple queries out there on the same ms that they’re looking at). If the author is lucky enough to strike a deal, their book will see a publication date–depending on who the publisher is–sometime in the next 6 to 18 months. Give or take. If the work gets rejected, then the author starts the process all over again.
I’d gone down that road of writing, submitting and rejection before I finally sold my erotic works to a small-press publisher. So the dream of being published with a royalty paying publisher has been a wonderful reality for the past 2 years. (Let me add that my erotics were all novella length, shorter works of fiction, so they are strictly digital, to include the Audio book).
My debut book was optioned for an Audio book back in 2010 (Boss With Benefits), and that little firecracker of a novella has seen some shake-my-head success far beyond what I imagined—a #1 Amazon Bestseller in Erotica audio books in the fall of 2011! As of this writing, it’s still lurking around somewhere on that bestseller’s list.
Now I wanted to explore Indie pubbing as a venue to showcase my longer, sensual-themed works. With the platforms and distribution available, why not do it?
My inner skeptic blurted a few good reasons:
You’ll screw up! I’ll certainly learn from my screw ups as I have in the past, right?
Your books won’t sell! You’d be surprised how few books sell really, really well, whether you’re contracted, or Indie.
They’re all gonna laugh at you! (in a crazy sing-song voice) Ha, join the party! I often laugh at myself 🙂 So, if I’m worried about looking stupid, then I shouldn’t be in this or any other business because there’s no guarantee I’m going to look amazing, either.
Years of investing in myself as a writer, belonging to RWA nationally and locally for over a decade, being involved in writer’s groups, reading thousands of books, understanding market trends and pitfalls, understanding myself as a writer, my skills and my goals all worked together to convince me that taking my work the Indie route would reward and challenge me.
What I hoped to achieve going Indie with my sensual line-up of romances wouldn’t impact current contracts with my publishers, either. Nor would it prevent me from marketing future stories to different publishers, if I chose to.
Here comes the But: Now I was responsible for cover art, employing editorial input, purchasing cover art with the proper licenses to use it. And good luck to me putting together a cover! I’d wear hats that I never had to wear before: cover artist, editor, marketer. How about one tiny thing; being computer savvy! I am not. Did I have the skills needed to understand and navigate publishing platforms? I did not.
But I do have a great support network in my family, and friends. My adorable hot wizard of a husband, Pete, is my technical partner. He deals with web support, and the graphic arts side of my writing efforts. We both share a desire to learn more about Indie publishing. I mean, how hard could this be?
It’s freaking hard!! Dear God, let me repeat: It’s freaking hard!! if I wasn’t battling my own confusion and ignorance, I was dealing with my fears. Could I deliver a worthy product? Would I disappoint readers?
And there’s more. We’ve all heard the yadda-yadda of bad grammar and formatting issues in self-published works, loud and clear. But as a reader, I’ve read contracted works that have the same issues, and with editors and readers having given the piece multiple read-throughs, too (mine included). One paperback book on my bookshelf written by a series author and published by a major publishing house had the heroine’s name on the back blurb different than her name in the story.
Oh, and anyone remember the famous cover with the heroine and her three hands? (Okay, that one’s been milked out, but it was one of the golden mistakes in the industry and turned out to be a boon to the author, but thought I’d throw it out there anyway).
Fact: Indie-pubbed works DO seem more prone to grammatical and formatting errors (I’ll share my uglies in Part 2 of this blog).
The wonderful thing about Indie books? There’s a whole ‘nother ball game out there for excellent Indie works to have a presence in the same markets as contracted books. And, they don’t require a publisher’s stamp of approval. Hurly-burly bouncer over there guarding the gates to Publishing House X, holding up the “Thanks, but no thanks” sign? Indies can walk by with a friendly wave as they take charge of their own publishing destinations.
Doing time in a rejection pile, pushing daisies in the root cellar, or where-ever author’s rejected or unpublished works languish, is now a thing of the past.
No way do I suggest that the book of your heart will experience a blip of success! If you’re in it for the money, pffflttt. You’re going to be disappointed. Even “overnight sensations” took years and years of struggle, rejection, trial and error before they began to see substantial income from their writing.
I’m saying that if you’re a serious writer with a story to tell, there are more opportunities and places to tell—and sell that story—than ever before. Good luck, and as you ponder your publishing dreams, have a drink on me!
1 lime, quartered and chunked
2 heaping Tablespoons brown cane sugar
a sprig of mint
With a mortar and pestle, mash and muddle these 3 ingredients till the limes are squeezed free of their juices and the natural lime oils from the skin blend with the sugar and crushed mint. Mash really hard! Put some elbow grease in your efforts.
When your wrist starts to ache, split the sugared lime juices and crushed mint into 2 medium-sized glass tumblers filled with ice.
Add a splash of white, or golden, rum to each glass (more or less)
Shove a mint sprig, strawberry slice or pineapple wedge down between the ice and the glass, then fill each glass with fizzly Soda or Tonic water. Swirl to blend, and serve.
*You can also add splashes of sour apple liquor, pineapple juice, muddle ripe strawberries in with the lime. Play around. Have fun, and don’t drink and drive.