Anyone who reads my Facebook posts knows I have very strong feelings about the way the traditional publishing industry treats authors when it comes to the reversion of rights and the distribution of wealth. But the decision to publish on your own or submit your work through an agent to the Big 5 is an individual one.
If you want to know the good and the bad of either world, there are plenty of resources on the web, but remember, opinions vary based on experience, and no one else’s experience will be the same as yours.
For the record, my time in traditional publishing was great. I liked the people I worked with and they treated me with a lot of respect.
When I sold my first four books, traditional publishing was considered the only legitimate path toward publication. Then the Kindle was invented and Amazon opened its doors to authors, and indie pioneers like Joe Konrath and Amanda Hocking started making money hand over fist. And suddenly the idea of self-publishing had great appeal to many authors. Especially those who had been unceremoniously dumped by their publisher when their sales didn’t meet some corporate number cruncher’s expectations.
When my friend Brett Battles left his publishing house and decided to go indie, I thought he was a little crazy. I was in the middle of finishing up a big, bold, traditionally published “blockbuster” for Dutton that was supposed to set the world on fire.
But then something amazing happened.
Over the course of the next year, Brett started selling a ton of books on Amazon. And as I watched this phenomenon, I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing.
When my Dutton book failed to fly—even after rave national reviews—I wondered if maybe the trad pubs didn’t know as much about selling books as they thought they did, and indie was the way to go. The book in question (The Paradise Prophecy) was one I would not have chosen to write on my own, but the publisher had come to me, and the advance money had been good, and I’m always a sucker for good advances…
But after its failure to make much of a splash, I wanted to write something for myself. Not for an editor or publisher, but for me. Just me. No restrictions, no dictates from on high, no agent interference, nothing. So I sat down and wrote a book I’d been itching to write for some time. A book that nobody in the industry seemed much interested in. But I wrote it anyway, thinking that I might self-publish it, while still holding onto the idea that maybe I could get a traditional deal instead.
When it was done, however, I looked at all the successful indie authors I knew, saw how well they were doing—and more importantly, how much control over their work they enjoyed—and decided that I definitely needed to give it a shot.
So Trial Junkies was published as an indie in May of 2012, and by the middle of June, I was selling nearly a thousand books a day.
I haven’t looked back since.
In the years that followed, Trial Junkies, has gone on to sell more copies than I ever would have imagined, and the book has received a lot of terrific reviews. It was also picked up by Amazon Crossing for translations to German and French.
So, you see, if you ask me about indie vs. traditional, the answer I’ll give you is obvious.
But, as I said, my experience may not be yours.
My experience may, in fact, be an anomaly.
So I urge you to do your research and figure out what path is best for you and only you.
And I also urge you to tell me I’m crazy in the comments. That’s what blogs like these are for. 🙂