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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why I've Embraced Indie Publishing as a Writer

Previously, I covered why I've embraced indie publishing as a reader. Today, I'll tackle the other side of the coin, indie publishing as a writer.

One of the biggest pieces of advice writers will hear (and repeat) is "Write for yourself." But the biggest problem with writing for yourself is that you're an audience of one. And often, the Big 6 (aka NY traditional publishers) aren't interested in anything different from what's selling. Snooki sold not one, but two books to NY! Is there anyone in the world who thinks Snooki is a literary giant? Of course not. She's a name. And there are too many people who buy books based on a name, rather than on the talent of the author or the uniqueness of the storyline. Given the choice, NY will choose a big name over a great story every single time. Publishing is a business, but it's also subjective. A name guarantees sales; a great story might go largely ignored.

This is where indie publishing can be an author's best friend. Many authors will hear "It's a great story, but we don't know how to package it" or "We love the story, but we already represent an author who has a similar story line." Other authors will receive recommended changes before publication that don't make them comfortable or go against what the author envisioned for the characters.

So what's an author to do? A few years ago, the author would probably put that story on the shelf, write a different story, and move on. Nowadays, (s)he doesn't have to table the first story. And who benefits? The author (of course), but also the reader!

Other perks? The author has control over things that were out of his/her grasp before. Cover art, for example. When an author finishes a book, (s)he has a pretty good idea what the cover should look like. Many publishing houses take that into account and actually ask the author for input. Most, however, don't. Ever buy a book and notice the heroine doesn't have the right hair or eye color? And you wonder if the author was on drugs not to notice? Chances are great that the author knows, but can't change it because the art department has final say on the cover, not the author.

Again, nowadays, the author can have full control, whether (s)he chooses to create the cover or hires a cover artist.

Heard about the Harlequin shenanigans that caused several authors to file a class action lawsuit to get the royalty rate their contract promised? Have an opinion on the cost of ebooks? As a former Avalon author, I can tell you that I always hated how expensive my hardcover books were priced, considering their length. But that was out of my control. Now, indie publishing gives the author control of royalties, pricing, marketing, etc.

I admit there's a lot of hard work involved in indie publishing, and no one should go into any kind of publishing project blindly. If your book is not clean, well written, and properly formatted, don't leap to hit "Upload" on Amazon or any of the other self-publishing sites. Editing is crucial, and you should pay for a professional editor(self indulgent plug: if you need an editor, I offer Excellence in Editing with timely delivery at reasonable rates), and a cover artist if you don't have the skills. Become well informed about markets, and be prepared to invest a lot of yourself (and your own cash) into the project. Be patient. No one becomes an overnight sensation in indie publishing.

But if you're willing to do the work, the rewards could be well worth it!

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html
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