I personally believe Independent Publishing is “NOW” and will continue as the “wave of the future”. Now is the time to get on board and learn the ins and outs while this sector of the industry is expanding, adapting, and growing. Then, as our world becomes even more eco-conscious and techno-dependent, Independent Publishing will be a widely accepted alternative for authors and readers due to the ease of publication, wide selection of books and formats available, and the lower cost of production which means savings for both authors and readers.
Whenever huge names like Google, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Borders begin to concentrate heavily on a sector such as Digital and Self-Published books, it’s time to do some homework and check it out. Here are snips from a couple of recent articles on Self- and Indie-Publishing:
June 3, 2010 Wall Street Journal
“...digital self-publishing is creating a powerful new niche in books that's threatening the traditional industry. Once derided as "vanity" titles by the publishing establishment, self-published books suddenly are able to thrive by circumventing the establishment.”
May 19, 2010, Publisher’s Weekly reported Barnes & Noble will be entering the self-publishing business with the summer launch of PubIt!
The decision to become an Independent Author was difficult for me. We were taught the “BIG” houses with traditional methods are the only “real” way to get published and be accepted as an author. Thankfully, that is changing. After creative and financial difficulties with two different publishers in 2009, on top of ten years of finding and losing an agent (due to his health), seeking a new agent, and subbing to “NY” publishers, I became so disturbed and upset I was ready to quit. But God had other plans for me and my work. I heard about a move by several authors I admire and respect (L.K. Hunsaker and Ruth Ann Nordin among them) toward Indie-Publishing. Like them, I needed a reasonable, fair alternative (or even an addition) to the “traditional” method of publishing. Also during this time, two new businesses, Smashwords and Amazon’s Digital Text Platform, started making headlines. I did my homework and jumped off the cliff into Indie-Publishing.
I say jumped off a cliff, because that’s exactly how it felt. I didn’t have a clue how (or if) my writing would survive, what to do to succeed, or if readers, friends, and fellow authors would support my decision. When leaving the “traditional” world of publishing, I left behind a support system. I gave up a publisher provided team of co-workers such as editors, cover artists, and advisors; the number one method of promotion through an established publisher’s name and Goodwill; and the confidence writers feel when a publisher says, “Yes, we want to contract your book.” I took on the expense of publishing my work and the total responsibility of success or failure. Scary stuff! But along with all the negatives came a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction I had not experienced in years of struggling within the constraints of “traditional” publishing.
In my case, I jumped off the cliff at a fortuitous time and the journey has been amazing so far. In giving up my ties to “traditional” publishing, I gained creative freedom. I’m not required to write to a formula, there is no specific number of sex scenes I have to include, and my story can be long or short, and as sweet, Inspirational, or sensual as I choose. I set the pricing for my books (within certain parameters for some distributors) and I choose my editors and cover artist. And, yes, self-published books do need editing and a great cover to make it.
Some problems encountered at first included formatting the books for publication. It can be especially difficult as each self-publishing company has their own specifications. CreateSpace and Lulu want PDF files and Amazon DTP and Smashwords want Word.doc or Word rtf. Booklocker requests the original submission in Word.rtf and then, if approved, they want a PDF file. Cover Art must meet certain size and dpi requirements and for each different company the licensing paragraph has to be reworded. But by taking my time and learning the ropes on the first book, along with taking lots of notes, the rest zipped through much easier and faster. I’ve even mastered putting books onto Data-CD for sale. Next, perhaps we’ll tackle audio???
Self-Publishing allows the author to determine their own deadlines, release dates, and as with the majority of traditional publishers the promos are an author’s responsibility. In return, the author keeps an average of 65% to 85% of the royalties from e-book sales and from 35% to 50% from the prints. (This varies by distributor and publishing company.)
In an effort not to mislead, I must report sales are currently down at most of the distributors. But sales are also down for most traditional publishers with many cutting back, selling out, or even going under. I feel this is a testament to economics and not about Indie-Publishing versus traditional publishing. In six months, through various distributors I’ve published five books written by me personally and two books through Victory Tales Press, plus I’ve assisted several other authors with entering the world of self-publishing. My sales have been the best in ebook format through Smashwords and Amazon Kindle and with Amazon and CreateSpace in print. Surprisingly, Barnes & Noble has not been a great market for me as an Indie-Author. My books have only recently entered the International market through FlipKart and a few other distributors so it will be a few months before I know the results there.
My favorite digital publishing company, Smashwords, currently lists over 12,000 books by Indie Authors and Indie-Publishers and is still growing. Amazon lists over 550,000 ebooks, many written by Independent Authors. Google plans to release its Google Editions this summer and carry a list of over four million books. Many will be re-prints from the public domain but a large share will be self-published by Indie-Authors. Apple iPad has reportedly sold over two million downloads since its debut this year. Even though that includes newspapers and magazines, a large portion were e-books written by Indie-Authors. If an author wants to 'strike while the iron is hot,' NOW is that time.
Borders is also turning to the digital side of distributorship in an effort to save their failing company. This provides yet another distributor for Indie-Authors. “Interim president Mike Edwards said that by the fourth quarter Borders could be selling as many as 10 e-reading devices. ...should also launch its e-bookstore..., Edwards added.”
Indie and Self-Publishing are not for every author, just as some ice cream eaters prefer "traditional" vanilla while others delight in Rocky Road. But I firmly believe the time to try Indie-Publishing is “NOW”. This sector of the industry will continue to grow and provide greater opportunities into the future as e-reader and computer technology improve and expand. I can’t wait to see what the new reading devices will evolve into as early as next year.
Rebecca J. Vickery