I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this desire to be chosen by an agent/publisher. There are nights when I beat myself up, when I wallow in self-pity [I am notorious for that, but at least I’m self-aware] because I couldn’t get an agent to represent me and my novel. To have chosen to go down the indie route because I couldn’t get an agent at times feels like a cop-out, like if I’d just tried a little harder then I would have been good enough.
But during those dark nights, when the wallowing gets extreme, I tell my self the following:
I wrote a good book, a quality book, and no matter what these agents think, it’s worth publishing.
And then I think, why would I want to go down the traditional publishing route anyway? I’ve never been known to embrace the norm, to fit in the box whether at work [ask my managers, if you don’t believe me] or in relationships. Or in writing. I don’t want to be normal. I want to be more, better. I want to live my life, not a life that fits someone else’s standard. I want to live outside the box. To be unique, authentic. Different.
So why this desire to be normal publishing wise? We’re told, time and again, that vanity press, that self publishing is only done because you’re not good enough to be a real author. But I’ve found that isn’t true. I’ve read Indie books that surpass many of the traditionally published books on the market. And yes, the indie world still has a lot of growing to do, but that doesn’t diminish my work. I’m an individual and should be treated as such.
I’ve found that there are three reasons that it’s good to be indie, publishing and lifestyle wise:
(1) I get more.
Somehow, even though I’ve managed to annoy my management, sometimes to the point that they loathe me, I’ve always worked hard and have a reputation of delivering what I say I’m going to deliver. And I make a very good salary in my big Corporate America life-style. But I also have the satisfaction that I won’t sell out, won’t deliver my soul up for better pay or some manager’s fleeting approval.
So why would I sell my soul to a publisher? Why would I want to get 7% of my royalties, which is what the traditional publishing route would net me, when I can get up to 70% of the royalties? Especially when with a traditional publisher, I’d have to do most of the work anyway. Gone are the days of the big promotions for new authors. So my book wouldn’t do any better, sales wise, than it is now.
If I was a purely business oriented person, I’d say that the traditional route ROI is crap. I write a book. I set up my social presence and much of the advertising. I do all the things you, Mr. PublishingHouse, don’t want to do for a new author. And you give me 7% of the sales? That’s not a smart investment.
(2) I control everything.
Yes, I am a control freak, but in this case, it’s a good thing. My manuscript isn’t sitting at the bottom some agent’s or some publisher’s I’ll get around to this one day pile. No delays due to re-formatting or waiting for an interior design person, one with low enough status to rank working on a newbie’s book. I control how fast my book goes to market.
I control the number of words, the editing, the title, the cover, the design. I control what percentage of the royalties I’ll get by deciding how the book will be distributed.
There are no long-term, dead-end contracts. If I want to pull my book from X distributor, I can do that.
I control everything, but mostly I control how successful I am.
(3) I own the rights.
Does this need explaining? In the case of publishing, if I pitch the story to a movie house, it’s mine to do so. And if I do so, I get the proceeds from the sale, not a small portion of them. There are a hundred other examples. Basically, if a publishing house has the rights to my book, I control little or nothing.
In life, I own my success and failure. I own my soul.
Not one of these reasons indicates that an indie writer will have an easy time of it, that they will be an instant success, that they don’t have to edit or produce quality work. Writing is hard work. Why would anyone think that publishing is easy?
But what the reasons do indicate is that we newbie authors should get more for the work we’re doing, we should look for the best ROI.
So you see, it’s good to be different, to be indie.