On a writers forum I’m on, I often frequent the Indie board since I’m simultaneously a micro-publisher and micro-press author (which evidently is considered self-published by industry standards). There’s an interesting shift in the publishing world. Do it yourself services like Lulu and CreateSpace have made it easier than ever for anyone who’s written anything to have it published and distributed. This has also given rise to micro-presses and niche publishers as well as the indie book.
What has amazed me as I’m reading these threads and talking to other indie folks is how many novelists go indie in hopes a major traditional publisher is going to discover them.
I guess everyone has their own reasons for going indie.
I went indie with the Demonolatry books and started DB Publishing after several of the large occult publishers politely declined my manuscript because it was just too controversial and subversive. Then I had several small press occult publishers approach me with contracts that demanded certain censorships and took away all my rights to the material. They also only wanted to pay me $1 a copy sold for my work. It was at that point I discovered Lulu and said, “Screw it – I’ll do it myself.”
I’ve NEVER regretted that decision and if a major traditional publisher came up to me right now and wanted to contract any of my magickal/spirituality books I’d tell them to stick it in their ear. No, seriously. Their traditional publishing model isn’t worth it because it’s always the writer who does the most work and makes the least money. At least the way I’m doing it now I may not be on every bookstore shelf in America, but my books aren’t censored, readers are happier, and a reader will know that when they buy my books – the author is actually being compensated for the work.
With fiction I have to admit I still wonder what it would be like to have my books on bookstore shelves and hundreds or even thousands of doting fans anticipating my every release. But then I also know a lot of traditionally published people. They’re some of the hardest working folks I know. They travel a lot for book signings, conventions, and conferences. Their next book sale depends on the sales of their last. Some of their books are back-listed. They have to meet contractual obligations and deadlines and ultimately, their publisher has the last say as to whether the story/plot is going to fly. The publisher dictates where the stories go and what gets censored.
The publisher often also gets first dibs on the writer’s next book.
In relation to that, me as a micro press author & publisher, I have all the creative freedom I want. My readers dictate which stories are expounded on. I don’t have to censor and clean up my characters’ language. As a result, people who want magic realism get it. Now admittedly my fantasy is very PG milk toast. It would be great for a mass audience and I bet had I had the patience to wait for the right agent and the right traditional publisher it probably could have been picked up by ROC or Del Rey or whomever. But my mystery series – nope. They would have wanted me to clean up my language, given my MC a different background, and perhaps changed the story into something more formulaic and cookie-cutter. I know this because I know a lot of traditionally published authors who had certain stipulations put on their work. Things they had to agree to change if they wanted the publisher to offer them a contract. Some folks call that selling out. I call it making concessions, or compromising.
I don’t know. I’d like to think that if a major publisher ever had a momentary lapse in judgement and wanted to contract one of my novels that I’d politely decline. At the same time, who knows. The distribution and bigger audience thing sounds lovely. ::sigh:: With that comes more work though and I’m not so sure I’d be able to do my best work under tight deadlines. I have a day job and real-life financial responsibilities and a 4K advance (which is about standard on a first novel) is not even 2 months salary for me. I’m also not a social person so the whole traveling and book signing thing – meh. ::shrug:: I could probably take it or leave it.
Nothing personal. I love people – just from a distance. There’s a reason I’m a writer and live inside my head.
Right now I am very happy where I’m at and my books are selling well. Especially on Kindle. So evidently people do like them. So I guess I’m completely the opposite. I didn’t go Indie in hopes a major traditional publisher would discover me. If I wanted a traditional publisher I’d have never gone with a small micro-press.
I went Indie so I could write and share my books with my readers. I went Indie because the big publishers were afraid of what I was writing. I went Indie to get rid of the middle man and so I could directly interact with my readers and let my READERS dictate what they want to read written by me. I went Indie so I could actually make a living as a writer. So far it’s working out for me and I’m pretty sure I’m making more on my own than I would with traditional publishers. I’m also pretty sure that soon I will be writing full time as my primary function in life.
UPDATE: Not more than two months after I made this post, one of my Indie pen-names took off and I now make enough where I could quit my day job if I wanted to.