“More and more, you will see books and publishing ventures aimed at very specific niches.”
Richard Curtis, literary agent, quoted by James McGrath Morris in The Huffington Post
I was indie when indie wasn’t cool, as the song says (well, it says something like that).
Back in 2003 when I finished writing my first novel to be complete, Finishing Touches, I was already beginning to research the publishing industry to figure out what to do with the book once the writing was done. I’d learned about Writer’s Market and several of the big online Market spots and had used both while hunting a publisher for my children’s story. Wow, that first rejection does sting. I suppose they all do, but the first one shoves deeply into a new writer’s soul like no other, as it brings a bucket full of reality with it. I learned a lot trying the traditional path with that book although it was really just a little side project for my kids. Research led to more research, to the way novels are published, the way the industry works.
Scary thing, the book industry.
I wasn’t scared, however, as much as disheartened. Publishers want a certain genre, and particularly whatever genre is best selling at the moment. My book didn’t fit any publisher or agent I found. It’s a mutt: a half breed, if you will. Just as too often the mutts are left in shelters while the purebreds are taken home, I didn’t see much chance to get my own mutt out there.
That is, until I found companies offering to take your mutts, uh books, under their shelters and give them homes, for a small fee. So the research shifted. Sometimes the fees weren’t so small. Sometimes they didn’t have the kind of home I wanted for my book. Sometimes they were complete rip-offs. I read lots of forums to find authors talking of their experiences and read the fine print on each company’s site. When I found Infinity Publishing, a small independent company out of Pennsylvania, I knew my book would be comfortable there.
During this week of indie publishing posts, I’ve enjoyed all of the experiences by authors willing to do things differently. Back in 2003 when I decided to go that route, self-publishers were truly the mutts of the writing world. And not only the mutts, but the dirty unkempt disease-ridden mutts.
Still, I figured it was my only shot, other than switching to write a genre that “fit.” I’ve never been one to fit, though, or to give in.
My experience with Infinity was wonderful. They answer emails immediately. They pick up the phone in person. The books turn out beautifully and they help with formatting when you need it. Within a few weeks of sending my files to them, I had a box full of my first novel! How exciting is that??
Ah, then comes the marketing but that’s a story for a different post. I’m trying not to be too long-winded.
So, very long story short, my next two books went to Infinity, as well. But I never stopped researching, following publishing trends, especially indie publishing. It also wasn’t being called that yet – there was a debate as to whether authors using POD services were actually “self-published” and much yelling about it by experts of some sort, so when I started a group for those writers doing it on their own, I called it indie publishing, in the vein of indie musicians. I was often asked just what I meant by “indie author” and was glad to explain. My group grew quickly. It seems lots of mutt authors were looking for homes.
Within the 7 years since I began, the indie scene has begun to burst, and I can’t be happier to see it.
My research, though, took me to another path. My two newest books, Off The Moon & Protect The Heart, are published by Elucidate Publishing, my own company. It entails a heck of a lot more work and a huge learning curve, but it also makes my books less expensive and gives them much better distribution. (This post is too long already to go into the process, but I have an indie publishing section on my own blog and I’ll add that there soon.) EP is in process of expanding to include other independent authors whose themes match its orientation: a writer’s artist colony of sorts. We offer print books, with assistance if needed to set up ebooks at Smashwords.com (see below for all of the raving about how wonderful Smashwords is! I fully agree, and it’s the best way for authors to dip their feet into indie publishing). Watch EP for the newest authors to join the team!
A warning for writers considering going independent: it’s not the easy way. Make sure to research your options first. Watch for companies who will cost you more than you can afford, not only monetarily. Talk with other indies (or read blogs such as this). EDIT! and get critiques. We serious indies are dismayed by all those who put out first drafts because it makes our mission harder. Be prepared to do all of the footwork yourself. It takes a lot of time. Can you afford it? Do you have the stamina and determination? It takes plenty.
It’s also an unbelievable feeling, once you’ve gone through all the work and hold that gorgeous book in your hand, to know YOU did it.
I’ll be around to answer questions if anyone has any.
~Literary Romance with an Artsy Twist~