Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Indie Publishing

This could be controversial but here goes!

This week I am about to make a momentous decision – or, at least, I think I’m maybe half way there!

I’ve always balked against Indie publishing – for several reasons:
1) I’ve needed an editor’s approval/acceptance of my work
2) I know I don’t have the technical expertise to format my work
3) I wouldn’t have the first idea how to create a cover for my novel
4) (and I hate to admit to this one!) I’ve tended to think of ‘indie’ publishing  as a kind of vanity publishing, putting one’s work online without any professional editorial acceptance or input.

So why am I changing my mind?

First, because over the last couple of years, I’ve finally gained some confidence in myself and my writing. It’s only taken me about 40 years to get to this point! So I’m thinking that maybe I don’t need an editor’s ‘approval’ anymore.
Why not? This takes me back to the sixties. At the time I was reading every romance novel I could find in the local library. I wrote my own romance novel, purely for myself, but then I started to think my novel was as good (if not better?) than a lot of the romances I was reading. To cut a long story short, I submitted it to one of the very few publishers of romance here in the UK (and also the biggest) and it was accepted. This should have given me confidence, but it didn’t, even though they accepted two more of my novels, and their American ‘partners’ published two of them, and one was serialised in a UK women’s magazine.
I’m digressing. The main point is that none of my novels has ever been ‘edited’ by a professional editor. The publisher who accepted my first 3 novels, and another publisher who accepted my 4th novel, published my stories as I’d written them, and more recently, the same has happened with my latest novels. This means I have produced 6 published novels so far without any detailed professional editing or editorial consultation. Conclusion – they must think my stories and my writing are okay!

Secondly, yes, I’m a wimp. I completely balk at formatting my work for publication or trying to work out how to produce a cover (‘artistic’ is the last word you could use to describe me!). I’ve also been aware of some of the problems other writers have had with formatting their work on the various sites there are out there.
However, I have discovered that there are ‘indie’ publishers who do all the formatting AND have artists to design the cover. In fact, they seem to do everything that 'traditional' publishers do regarding the actual publishing process (formatting, cover design etc). So that covers points 2 and 3 above.

Thirdly – vanity publishing? There are plenty of vanity publishers who charge thousands of pounds/dollars to produce someone’s book. I have no intention of approaching one of these. However, there are also the ‘indie’ publishers who don’t charge any advance fees, either for e-books or printed books. It seems there are very few differences between many ‘small’ traditional publishers and ‘indie’ publishers – although I’m sure someone will correct me if that’s wrong. The most significant differences I’ve seen is that the indie ones seem to get things done a lot faster, charge less for their e-books and print books (which hopefully means more sales) and give the author a larger percentage of royalties. The indie publishers don’t offer much in the way of editing (but then neither do some of the traditional ones) and, apart from some advertising on their websites, they don’t do any publicity – but I’m used to having to do that anyway!

For all these reasons, I may be going the ‘indie’ way. It’s actually quite a scary decision to make, but, as I said at the start, I’m half-way there.


  1. I'm not published in romance yet, but I am always attentive to what romance author's say about their publishers. From what I've heard, e-press publishers run the gamut from near-vanity (no editing) to hardcover-hardcore editing. I suspect that reader support follows in proportion to the quality of the publishing house's output.
    Self-publishing is attractive, but IMO demands rigorous line editing and copy editing.

  2. While I don't think I'd make this decision for myself, at least at this time, I think you've given this a lot of thought and really done your research. You seem to know yourself very well, including your strengths and weaknesses. You also seem to have a good handle on the market. So I think you should go with your gut. If you think this is the right decision for you, then you should try it!

  3. Good luck, Paula! I have several other writing friends who have gone this way and are very happy with their decision.

    There are so many resources out there now to help those interested in going this route...I'm sure you'll find lots of help along the way.

    I definitely don't have anything against indie publishing, I just know it's not for me. Simply, I don't have the time. I like being associated with a publishing house that will help with polishing, publicity info, garnering reviews, and getting my books into on-line stores.

    I wish you much success with your venture!

  4. Ana - I agree about there being a whole range of small publishing houses, some good, some not so good. I'm not sure about reader support though, since publicity and promotion seem to rest mainly on the author these days, and not on the publisher.

  5. Thanks, Jen. I've looked at a lot of different publishers, both 'traditional' (whatever that means!) and independent, and there seems to be a lot of overlap in what they offer.

  6. Debra, I also have several friends who have gone to indie publishers and are very happy with the results so that's the main reason I have been considering this route.
    These days I try to do my own 'polishing' - the 'find' facility on Word is currently been overworked as I search for the words I over-use!

  7. That was very interesting, Paula, if unexpected! I'm not sure what you mean by Indie publishers, though. I thought most people who talk about 'Indie' mean they do everything themselves - editing, cover, publishing, marketing.

    Whereas the smaller, independent publishers are traditional in that they do everything and pay royalties. Is that not what Whiskey Press are? I'm with Champagne Books and MuseItUp and they both have professional editors and cover artists and pay royalties. Like all smaller press, we have to do much of our own marketing (doesn't everyone these days!) but they also send our books to online reviewers.

    I do think, certainly, that you could do as good a job yourself and keep more of the royalties - that's what a lot of writers are now deciding. I've learned so much from my stringent (US) editor for the forthcoming tween book that I'd like to persevere with small publishers a while longer! I'll watch your decision with great interest!

  8. Paula, as an author with experience with NY pubs, traditional digital publishers, and indie pubs, I am casting my lot with the latter as the best way to go for me. But when it comes to self-pub, I don't have the expertise nor the daring to try it...yet. Good luck making your decision.

  9. Just to clarify - I am not intending to 'self'-publish (I couldn't cope with the techie side of that!) but to try someone who does all that for me (just as the 'traditional' publishers do).

    Rosemary and Linda - thanks so much for your comnments.