“When in the course of human events, …”
I’m not a scholar of state papers, but I’ve heard it said the American Declaration of Independence is one of the most beautifully written of such documents. I read it again over the weekend and reminded myself of its eloquence and substance.
I also looked up the definition of the word “independence” in dictionary.com. Here’s what it had to say:
Independence. noun. freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.
Sounds wonderful, right? But it also means the independent person or entity must take control of their own future. It’s their responsibility.
And that brings me to publishing.
My first novel was traditionally published. In retrospect, I think that was an excellent idea since I knew so little of what it took to publish a book. The publisher engaged a cover artist, got the ISBN, registered with the Library of Congress, arranged for the final edits, formatted the book, and did all the other jobs necessary to have it made available on retail sites. If I had tried to do all those things myself, it would have been a much longer process.
My publisher was very supportive, and I intended to publish the other novels in the series with them. However, they changed their contract, and the new one had some issues I didn’t care for. Negotiations solved some, but not all, of the problems, so my husband and I decided I should look at the possibility of going indie. James Scott Bell’s book How to Make a Living as a Writer was a wonderful resource and gave me the information and reassurance I needed to make the switch.
Independent publishing is great. I love being 100% responsible for the content and presentation of my books, and I love having control of my products and following their performance on a day-to-day basis. However, the learning curve was steep and the time commitment continues to be large. I have to cover all the bases, including:
- Engaging development and line/copy editors (I had always done this, so it’s not an add-on.)
- Having the final manuscript professionally proofread
- Getting the ISBN
- Establishing the prices
- Registering the copyright
- Registering with the Library of Congress
- Arranging for the front and back covers
- Formatting the content
- Distributing to various platforms including Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play, and Ingram Spark.
If there’s an audio book, I arrange for the narration, approve each chapter, and finalize the audio with Findaway Voices.
I also maintain the financials for our publishing company, Wordstar Publishing, LLC. I write the year-end reports, and work with our accountant to file taxes.
Is it worth it? I really do like the independence. However, I’d like to offload some of the administrative tasks, so I’m thinking of giving Draft2Digital a try to handle the distribution. That would give me more time for writing at a small cost.
Bottom line: I’m glad I went independent.
So TKZers: What are your thoughts on independence? If you’re an indie author, is it worth the extra effort? Do you pass off some of the tasks to others? If you’re traditionally published, have you ever considered going indie?
Thank you, Kay. I like independence, and it is absolutely worth the extra effort. I remind myself that there is only one steering wheel in an automobile. As far as passing off some of the tasks to others…absolutely. I own my yard but hire the lad next door to mow it. He learns how to do a job well for a fair wage and I can do other things to which I am better suited, like sitting and thinking.
Have a great Fourth, Kay!
Good morning, Joe, and Happy 4th to you!
Great analogy about the yard work. I’m going to see what part of my publishing yard I can give somebody else to care for.
Have a great week!
Happy Independence Day, Kay. I am an indie writer, and I love the ability to make the decisions, farm out the areas where I need help, and be the one who gives final approval. I’ve made many mistakes, but that’s the way I learn. And in other areas of my life, where I’ve been part of a larger organization, I’ve always been frustrated with the inefficiency and slow pace of decision making, and often the final decisions themselves.
Independence came with a price, but it was and is still worth it.
I hope your day is filled with joy and satisfaction.
Good morning, Steve, and happy 4th!
“Independence came with a price, but it was and is still worth it.” I agree. I also love doing things my own way and making my own mistakes. I learn better that way.
Have a great week!
I had three books—a poetry collection and two nonfiction titles—published traditionally back in the late ’90s. One of the latter placed at the BEA-NY in the Education Category in the Book of the Year Awards. Since April 2014, I’ve published 66 novels, 8 novellas, and around 220 short stories, all indie. (And that’s with two long stretches, one of 6 months and one of 10 months, of not writing at all.) I would never go back.
I also extend that same independence to my characters, whom I consider my partners in fiction. They, not I, are actaually living the story so I wouldn’t dream of second-guessing them or forcing them to do something they don’t want to do.
Wow, Harvey, your track record is very impressive! Congratulations on all your accomplishments.
I admire your work ethic and your devotion to your characters. You have set the bar very high for the rest of us.
Have a wonderful 4th!
Happy Independence Day, Kay and TKZ community!
Freedom does bring responsibility. But it’s well worth it.
Like, you, my first book was traditionally published. Then the press closed and I became an orphan. Several houses made offers but the contracts were no-go so I self-pubbed. No regrets. Marketing ain’t fun but you gotta do that yourself with either option.
Interesting you mention D2D. Recently I gave a talk about it to one writers group and have another talk coming up. Terry’s post nudged me into trying D2D and it’s been great. https://killzoneblog.com/2020/09/indie-publishing-wide.html
Freedom is not free and I give thanks to those who fought and died to give us the precious gift.
Good morning, Debbie, and Happy 4th!
I have it on my list to give D2D a try. Thanks for the link.
“Freedom is not free and I give thanks to those who fought and died to give us the precious gift.” It’s so easy to take this gift for granted.
Have a great week.
I was orphaned by two “small” presses just about the time Amazon and KDP appeared. I made the switch and now, at my age, simply don’t have the longevity to go the traditional route. I did it the ‘easy’ way back then, so I publish under my own name. It’s not ‘required’ to create a publishing company. I’m sure most readers don’t even look, but if they do, I’d prefer the company they’re checking out publishes books by more than 1 author. It’s also not ‘required’ to buy ISBNs. The distribution channels will provide them, and almost all of my sales are digital, so it’s even less of a matter for me. You’re also not ‘required’ to register the copyright with the Library of Congress, so the list isn’t quite as daunting as it appears here. I’m a small fish and content to remain so.
Editing and cover art are the biggies. That’s where you don’t want to cut corners.
Good morning, Terry, and Happy 4th.
Those are great points. Even the Indie route has many side roads, and each of us has to choose the particular one we want to follow.
I’m looking forward to getting to know D2D.
Have a great week.
Happy Fourth of July, Kay! I started out with short fiction being traditionally published, albeit digital only. When I “became serious” about publishing novels, I choose to be independent and self-publish. I’d seen a number of friends who had been traditionally published be cut by their publisher after they’d finished their multi-book contract, and this after years spent trying to land a publishing deal. Often the books hadn’t been adequately supported by the publisher.
I want to be responsible for my publishing. I like the freedom of being an indie. Yes, with power comes responsibility, and it’s my responsibility to make sure that the book is worth a reader’s time and is well produced.
Being independent doesn’t mean going it alone. I’m part of a time. I have cover designers, beta readers, and editors. I also work with other authors for joint promotional efforts. My first novel, Empowered: Agent was later republished in the multi-author box setShadow Magic, and I’ve had two novellas published in indie anthologies.
Today, I think of all of those who sacrificed everything to attain freedom for all of us. Hope you have a wonderful day.
Good morning, Dale, and Happy 4th!
You bring up a good point: “Being independent doesn’t mean going it alone.” No matter what path we take, writing a book is definitely a team effort. I love the responsibility, and I have found real joy in the relationships I’ve made in this wonderful writing community.
Have a great week.
Let freedom ring, Kay! (And thanks for the shout out).
After many happy years inside the Forbidden City, I have been happier still out here in the wild and fertile fields of indie. In addition to the creative freedom, I love the speed. I don’t have to wait a year for a finished book to get to market. It can happen in a day. I love being as prolific as I want to be, unrestrained by publishing schedules or bookstore ordering seasons. I love controlling all my rights—as will my heirs.
Maybe we should designate November 19 as Indie Independence Day (that was the day, in 2007, when the Kindle came out). Writers can gather for hot dogs and ice cream, and when it gets dark hold up their backlit e-readers and wave them around.
Good morning, Jim, and Happy 4th.
If it hadn’t been for your book, I’m not sure I would have gone in this direction, so thanks!
I like the idea of Nov 19 as Indie Independence Day. I’ll be ready with my iPad in hand. 🙂
Have a great week.
Do you think we can get Jeff Bezos to pay for our “Kindle-lights” celebrations across the country?
I’m sure he’ll be delighted to pay. He’ll also want to cancel the exclusivity clause for membership in KU to show his undying support of Indie authors. 🙂
Will you email him, or shall I?
I’ll bring chocolate fudge ice cream . . . 🙂
Hi Kay . . . great post. Very encouraging.
I’ve been waiting for an agent now for the better part of a year to say or nay to my second novel. I’m indie-pubbing my first project, planning for October . . . since same agent told me it doesn’t fit on an Amazon shelf because it has a male MC. (Don’t really understand that thinking.)
I’m thinking I’ve about had it with the traditional route. I vote with Terry. I don’t have enough time left to me to wait around for the gatekeepers.
Thanks TKZers . . . and have a happy and safe American Independence Day!
Good morning, Deb, and Happy 4th!
“it doesn’t fit on an Amazon shelf because it has a male MC.” Now that’s a new take on things. At least the agent is imaginative.
Good luck with your Indie projects. If you don’t already have it, I do recommend JSB’s book How to Make a Living as a Writer.
Have a great week. (And I’m looking forward to that ice cream on Nov 19.)
Hi Kay and may the Fourth be with you today. My fond memory of your Independence Day holiday was getting caught in a traffic jam in Mukilteo, Washington, when half of Seattle turned up for the evening’s fireworks. It was a great show but a long, long wait to get out.
Early in the day, I tried the agent and TP querying thing but went nowhere so I turned indie and never looked back. If a traditional publisher approached me today, there would have to be a large offer for me to sell my rights. I only sub-out two tasks – proofreading and covers. The rest is hands-on and most enjoyable.
Good morning, Garry, and may the fourth be with you as well! 🙂
Fireworks displays are always crowded. We hardly ever go to them anymore, but we can hear the pops and booms where we live.
So you do your own formatting and distribution? Those are the areas that seem to take a lot of my time. We’ll see if D2D helps out.
Have a great week, and I’m looking forward to next Monday when you’ll be the interview guest on my blog. Thank you in advance!
Not to be morbid, but I love the freedom of indie because I’m starting to write in my 40s. I have many stories I want to tell and share, and I don’t like the idea of spending 5-10 years to woo an agent and editor and then, if I succeed, wait yet another 1-2 years for ONE book to appear in print. I love the speed.
To quote JSB, “Type hard, type fast!”
Good morning, Philip!
To be sure, there’s much to like about the freedom of being an indie author. Good luck with all your future storytelling. (I hate to admit it, but “40s” sounds young to me.)
Enjoy the 4th and have a great week.
Go for it. I was well into my 50s before I even toyed with the idea of writing. You’re a youngster!
Before Amazon decided that self-publishing could be profitable and shouldn’t be eradicated from its distribution platform like the crap they thought it was, there was e-publishing, courtesy of e-publishers and small e-publisher/trade book publishers.
These publishers and their scorned authors not only made e-publishing a thing, they built an audience by educating readers about how to read ebooks, how to find them, and why they should read them. They proved their books weren’t crap by paying for the right to be reviewed by buying large ads from the big review magazine “Romantic Times.” Some of the books blew the reviewers away so Kathryn Falk, the owner, saw the financial potential and began to hype these books.
Other writers, a vast majority of the ebook pioneers were romance writers, found the RWA chapter contests that were ebook friendly in an organization who despised the writers they considered traitors, aka weren’t slaves to the traditional publishers, and made their careers a living hell whenever possible. The ebooks actually won in these contests, but they weren’t allowed into the RWA National’s Ritas for many years.
Then came the dedicated e-readers like the Rocketbook, and Barnes and Noble opened the first major platform for large e-book reader distribution. Yes, B&N. Original ebooks were at the top of the bestseller charts against the major NY publishers’ authors. Eventually, Amazon smelled the money and started the Kindle platform and ebook reader. For years, it only allowed traditional publishers and the best of the ebook publishers onto the platform, then smelled more money with self-publishing, and a new revolution began.
I was an ebook pioneer. TIME AFTER TIME was the first ebook reviewed and loved at “Romantic Times,” and it and STAR-CROSSED won all those awards. I did a bunch of other stuff too boring to mention, then I faded away like a good pioneer and firebrand as the market exploded, and the dawn of self-publishing began. You are welcome.
Good morning, Marilynn, and thank you for the history lesson. I never did understand why some writing contests don’t allow indie entries.
Love the title of your book Time After Time. And great information about your history in the indie field. Congratulations on all your accomplishments.
That path sounds very much like mine, Marilynn. I got my start with Cerridwen Press, an imprint of Ellora’s Cave. Three cheers for those .rb files! Of those digital publishing pioneer small presses, The Wild Rose Press (I was their first outside contracted author) still survives.
I like small, indie publishers. Kindle, Amazon and these are not popular in my country, still printed books are the norm (or free e-books for penniless students). The self publishers who write in my mother tongue (because yes, I know people who write in English and publish on Amazon) format their book alone, with or without isbn, and go directly to a printing house. No, thanks! I like having a publisher who makes the cover, speaks with literary critics for the foreword and fourth cover blurb, organises an official book launching, presents it at book fairs…
Thanks for dropping by, Marina, and for leaving comments about publishing options.
Have a great week!
I started writing in 2013 and I’m working on my 20th book at the moment. I never regret the decision to go Indie back in the beginning. The time to market for traditionally published books is astoundingly long and most of them end up writing a book a year. I’ve been averaging 3/year lately and there is simply no room for that in the Trad world.
Congratulations, Alec, on 20 books! That’s a tremendous accomplishment.
It’s been great to hear from the folks who blazed the indie trails for the rest of us. 3 books a year is a goal I’d like to shoot for.
Have a great week.