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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Are You Ready to go Indie?

Going Indie isn't an easy decision for some. Whether it makes sense for you depends on several things, which I've outlined below. Your own preferences/experience will decide the order of importance here, but the points don't vary much.

1. Where you are in your career
2. How important control is to you
3. Your frustration level with traditional publishing
4. How comfortable you are with risk

Going Indie requires an Entrepreneurial spirit. There is risk involved when you decide to wear both a publisher's hat and an author's hat. You need to step outside your comfort zone, be able to make decisions, and you'll have only yourself to blame when things don't go as planned.

But if you have the spirit, and control over your own intellectual property is important to you, going Indie gives you so much more flexibility in how/where/when/for how much your books are sold.

So how do you decide? Take stock of where you are and what you want for the future. Much like I'm going to do here.

Where am I in my Career?

I didn't know squat about the publishing world when I started out some 8 years ago. I could no more have gone off on my own then, at least not effectively, than I could have solved the world's major problems. The early years with traditional publishers gave me time to learn, to perfect my craft, and to figure out that I knew a better way, for me, to do things.

How much Control do I Want/Need?

Once I felt comfortable in the writing/publishing world, it made sense for me to seek the next level. I am a bit of a...erm...control freak. That is, I like to have some say over how things are done that affect me. Scratch that. Truth be told, I like to have complete say in how things happen that affect me. I can't always get that control, but in this one writing career...I can and do have control because I'm publishing most (soon all) of my books myself. Fortunately I'm fairly technical and don't break out in hives when I have to learn how to do new things online. So that made the idea of becoming my own publisher more than doable.

How Frustrated am I With my Publishers?

I love the publishing houses that decided to take a risk on me when I was brand spankin' new to the writing world. I feel a sense of loyalty to them that will never go away. But they are necessarily limited in how much they can do for me or my books because I'm only one of hundreds of authors with thousands of books. I get that. I didn't decide to go off on my own because I have animus against them for how they treated me. Well...not entirely anyway. #:0) I did it because it was the best business decision for me. And to be fair, I wouldn't have had as much success on my own if my publishers hadn't given me the time and vehicle to create a name for myself.

How Allergic am I to Risk?

I've made some mistakes, but most screw-ups are totally reversible. There aren't many things you can do that will permanently destroy your career if you go Indie. Of course you could get into a flame war with a reader/reviewer/vendor, but you could do that as an author in a publishing house too. The key to limiting risk and enhancing success is to always approach everything you do with professionalism. Choose writing as your career. This might sound simplistic, but some of the best authors I know haven't done that yet. They think they have, but when it comes down to it, they are unwilling to take the steps to really make it happen.

For the most part, Indie authors are serious about their careers. They have to be because everything success, every milestone, and every failure rests solely on their shoulders. It's a sobering and exhilarating place to be. And I'm lovin' every minute of it!


Cara Marsi said...

Good post, Sam. I'm all indie now. It took awhile for me to step into the indie waters. An online friend who is one of the indie success stories had to talk me into self-publishing one of my books when I got the rights back. I was still hesitant and had my feet in both indie pubbing and trad publishing. I thought I'd be a hybrid author, with books published indie and trad. Now, I've gone completely indie. I like the control; I like changing my price on books and running sales. My marketing skills aren't good, but I'm learning. Unless you're a really big name in trad publishing, you have to do most of your own marketing anyway so why get a smaller portion of royalties with a publisher when you can get a greater percentage on your own? I love indie publishing and have been doing it since 2010. I have a cover artist and a formatter and I always have my novels professionally edited.

jean hart stewart said...

Outstanding post. As is Cara's comment. I don't have to guts for it. Have settled down with Muse It Up, and am happy there. (Six books in line to be pubbed). But I thoroughly admire you are braver than I

Sam Cheever said...

I'm totally with you, Cara! I don't see myself ever turning back. It's fun to be the captain of my own ship. Thanks for sharing!

Sam Cheever said...

Jean, it's awesome that you found a house you're comfortable and happy with! Your books are wonderful and I'm sure they're thrilled to have you! Thanks for joining the conversation.

Sandy said...

Sam, I'm scare to death to go indie, but I'm going to try it, and then I'll see if I can continue with it.

Melissa Keir said...

Wonderful reflection...I've done it. And I love it. I also like how I'm a hybrid. I am still with one of my publishing houses but I also have self published some books I got my rights back. I enjoy having the say and in some cases, I feel like when I choose my editor and cover, I get a better product.

Sam Cheever said...

Sandy if you need help with anything please holler! I'll be happy to share experience and knowledge. #:0)

Sam Cheever said...

Melissa, I'll probably stay with one of my houses because they're friends. And I wouldn't rule out going with another house in the future if it made sense. But I'm loving wearing my publisher hat. LOL

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