On Being an Indie Author…

It used to be that being published by pretty much any publisher (especially the Big 5) was the golden standard.  If you were one of the lucky ones, you would have your book edited, revised and appropriately shaped and developed.  You would receive a book cover that the publisher felt would sell the book.  You would GET marketing done on your behalf.  You would expect a full page New York Times ad and reviews by Kirkus and top big city book newspaper reviewers.  Hell, you may have even gotten on a few morning shows on the strength of the publishers conviction that your book was a hit ready and waiting to be discovered.


While this is still true, there are a few…adjustments that authors who are published by the big guys must make.  Allison Flood’s article details the benefits and the…ahem…adjustments I referred to earlier.  One of those little not-so-benefitty things an author may need to be mindful of is forfeiting the rights to their work (the copyright would stay with the publisher forever).  Also, the traditionally pubbed author would still have to assist in promoting their book the traditional way — book store signings — as well as developing/creating an author platform on social media and pushing his/her book.  And, for all this, the traditionally published author receives approximately 10% of his/her book’s cover price.  That’s right, the lion’s share goes to the publisher and the agent, and any other third-party helpers who make foreign rights/sales happen.

With these things at the back of your mind, let’s look at a self-published author.  Yes, they must promote their book as well.  They must develop/create an author platform, hire/do their own top-notch editing/revising/book shaping & development.  The self-pubbed author must create a high quality book cover that will attract readers.  The self-pubbed author must sleep.  [Oops. Okay scratch that last thing.]

Yes, it is a lot to do.  And, add to this list the self-pubbed author must sustain themselves &/or their families through some sort of work-related endeavor greatly reducing the amount of time that all of this can be done.  Yet, when all is said and done, the self-pubbed author can choose to bring home 70 – 90% of his/her book’s cover price (less expenses, of course).  Hugh Howey’s article gives specifics on how ebooks are generating increased profits that are helping publishers offset their costs.  However, these savings are not being shared with their authors…or, the buyers of books — the readers!


Author, Hugh Howey

For those of you who are not familiar with Hugh Howey he’s the guy who wrote a ton of stories (WOOL stories) and gave them away.  They became very popular and he sold them for 99-cents.  He became an Amazon #1 Best-Seller — overall!  Of course, he was approached to publish with the big guys.  He was having too much fun interacting with his fans and declined.  Howey’s very successful and firmly believes self-publishing is the way to go.

Another early adopter of self-publishing is John Locke.  He is also an Amazon #1 Best-Seller and he sells his books for 99-cents as well.  Did I mention he was offered a traditional publishing deal and he decline also?  He decided to go with a distribution deal that allows his books to sell for $2.99 in big box stores while he sells his books still for 99-cents on Amazon. [Sounds like he took a page from Mr. Wonderful’s book.  You know who I’m talking about.  The shark from Shark Tank.]

Author, John Locke

Author, John Locke

So, while I am SO not a top selling author like Howey or Locke I aspire to continue selling my books on Amazon and finding my own way of connecting with people who may just fall in love with my irreverent diverse characters who can’t seem to keep themselves out of trouble.


For all of you writers out there watching the tennis match of publishers vs. authors, it’s time to stop watching and pick a side.  I truly believe that in the next 7 years the sides may be so blurred that the line may itself become irrelevant.

I will leave you with this video by Tom Bird about the New Age of Publishing.

Until next time…

Ta-ta for now,





14 thoughts on “On Being an Indie Author…

  1. Hi! I saw the link to this post on Twitter, so…what does going “Indie” mean to me? Well, a couple of things. It means that I don’t have to stick my manuscript in a drawer because a bunch of other people decided that it couldn’t sell. It means that a story that I’ve been working on for four years, and nursing in my head for years before that, doesn’t just become another of my “practice novels”. It means that I can find my own audience, and if that audience is small, then so be it. It’ll still be MY audience.

    It also means that my book will be MINE, for better or worse. The product that I put out there will well and truly represent ME. No compromises, no changes made at anyone’s behest other than my own. That’s important to me. (Which isn’t to imply that I haven’t relied on a bunch of people I trust, all of whom are smarter than me, for beta-reading and proofing and all the rest.) I’m not going to chase a bouncing ball that’s ever smaller and bounces less and less. So that’s what it all means to me!


    • Kelly, I feel the same way. I subbed my novels around and received interest in seeing partials. But my work, did not ultimately garner representation. The final straw was when I was offered a book deal. I asked for a very small uptick in the advance. It was denied and the offer rescinded with an implication that my work was not worth any more than they offered.

      At first I was shocked. However, after a cursory look on Google I found hundreds upon hundreds (dare I say thousands?) of writers who expressed something similar in their interactions with publishers. In many cases, the end results were worse. The writers did sign contracts that were not honored.

      All in all, my decision to go Indie is something that I truly believe in. At this time, I feel I have made the right decision.

      Thanks for sharing Kelly! #writersupport #IndieBooksBeSeen!


  2. Great post! And something so many writers can relate to. One person I really admire is Bella Andre. My goodness! She was indie pubbed and made a HUGE name for herself and created such a huge following. I heard her speak at the San Francisco Writers Conference last year and she really inspired me. I say rock on, indies! LOL!


    • Hi Quanie! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! And yes, Bella is a fabulous success story and a fellow female Indie author! (I only referenced men ).For those who may not be familiar with Bella’s work here’s her site: http://bellaandre.com/.

      Have you written an article on what you heard/took away from Bella’s speak at the Writers Conference? I bet she gave great advice/tips.

      Thanks again Quanie!


  3. Lol @ ‘the indie author must sleep’. The strike out line was definitely needed because I’m just getting started and it’s becoming clear that this indie journey is not for the faint of heart. It really is the meshing of your creative side with the actual writing, and your business side to have the savvy to sell your product. It can be overwhelming at times, but when you’re doing what you love, sacrifices must be made. I’m so glad I saw your comment on Quanie’s blog and discovered another indie author doing her thing!


  4. Hi Faith! So glad you stopped by. It’s true being an Indie author means deciding if Sleepy Hollow is more important than getting online and checking out how your tweeps are doing! 🙂 [There’s always On Demand, right?]

    In the 1st month that my book was released I did not know which day it was, what clothes I was going to wear. It was terrible! I managed to function normally but coffee was my FRIEND (Shall we say 3 cups minimum a day? And not the teeny ones either.)

    But we as Indie authors have a dream and a passion for what we do. I like to think it makes us stronger, younger, happier more fulfilled people because we are doing what we love. But then again, I might be delusional. 🙂

    Thanks again for stopping by Faith! Loved the “What Nora Knew” book review!


    • See how discombobulated I am? It took me almost a month to check back in with you over here! Charge it to the Indie Author head, not my heart.

      And yes, you’re 100 % correct that it’s the passion for what we do that drives authors. The circles under my eyes are badges of literary honor! But for real, a sister is going to have to catch up on her sleep. This look is not hot.

      Thanks for visiting my blog! “What Nora Knew” was one of my favorite reviews.


  5. When I was 17, I ended up refusing a publishing deal for a series of young children books – not because of royalties or rights (I knew nothing about that) but because I was tied to ‘producing’ another 7 books in 3 years, which gave me nightmares. I decided that going to college was a priority for me. Now I am in the last edit of a gothic romance NA novel, and very much wondering if self publishing is the way to go. What worries me most with going the indie way is the quality and the lack of support from a very experienced team, but I am still scared of signing my trilogy away with some mad deadlines. I’ll see what I do in December!


    • Celia I understand managing expectations and setting reasonable limits for oneself. You made the best decision at the time! Moving forward, if you want to look into Indie publishing there are a plethora of resources at your fingertips with reputable: book cover designers (try Book Beaver UK they are great!), editors (email me and I can give you a list for various budgets), and book developers/shapers. Another thing to look at would be writing groups. If you are not part of one, you should try and find a group you are comfortable with at your earliest convenience. 🙂

      You can try online groups such as: Zoetrope, Writers Carnival, and a range of groups on FaceBook. There are a ton more but these are ones I’ve worked with in the past and have had nothing but stellar experiences (esp with Zoetrope; I’ve been a member for well over 10 years).

      Knowing you have a ‘team’ behind you, or a group of concerned engaged people vying for your success is a vital piece for any Indie author. Once you begin building that ‘team’ you will have less and less worry. All you’ll have to do is figure out book promotions/marketing and there is a slew of people and companies to help you with that!

      All the best to you Celia and thanks for stopping by!


  6. Thanks a lot for your message, it has really cheered me up! I had put the first third online for free, and as the reception was fantastic I made the mistake of thinking I should go down the edit/publish path again. I am at a stage now where I start wondering why I put in all that energy in my novel; I find the business side of things rather disheartening. It is so good to know there are genuine, professional services out there – my Twitter is inundated every day with all these “cheap book cover” deals, “we retweet your book 600 times for $5!!!”, etc… which made me feel like I was about to plunge into a sharks’ pool.

    And I’ll definitely try Zoetrope too, thank you so much for the advice!


  7. Posts like these remind my why I’m glad I’m an indie. Yeah, I make mistakes and sometimes don’t have the time to give my books the attention they need, but that’s all on me. I can affect that. If I went with a publisher and mistakes were made, what could I do? I’d say something then have to wait. I wouldn’t be able to get on the problem and fix it asap. No thanks. I like controlling everything–even when it’s hard to do. (Also, I do need sleep to write. Wish I didn’t, but that’s just how I am.)


    • Sleep…ah! Just the sound of it makes me swoon. That’s how little of it I get! But yeah, it is tough to keep all of these balls in the air when you are Indie and must support yourself in other ways. Having a team helps! And you’re right. Having the able to say what happens, or doesn’t happen, is something to be happy about. Control is something many of us wish we had but as Indies, we DO have it. Now, as a group. we must exercise the same stringent standards that people expect of the major publishers. Sure, things slip through the cracks (I’ve seen my share of typos and errors in traditionally published best-sellers), but they should be minimal. That, I’m sure, is the goal for everyone who publishes. Thanks for stopping by Patricia!


  8. Worthy blog you’ve got going here, Rochelle. Thanks for checking out mine and best of luck with your indie efforts. Please send good thoughts my direction for my indie book. Peace and best, John


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