Recently I attended an incredible writing conference, MWA University, sponsored by Mystery Writer’s of America. I spent the day listening to the likes of Hallie Ephron, Jess Lourey, Sara Peretsky and Hank Phillipi Ryan talk about craft and the writing life. It was amazing, and I learned vital tricks about craft and came away refreshed.
The class had a mix of new and experienced authors, published and unpublished.
DISCLAIMER #1: when I say published, I’m including indie published.
As I listened to the great presentations, I kept hearing the phrases “attracting an agent,” or “staying out of the slush pile.” Many of the talks referenced all the tiny little things that can make an agent or editor toss a manuscript aside. I could see the unpublished authors squirming and turning green.
As the day went on, I had one unrelenting thought: I’m so glad to be indie!
DISCLAIMER #2: Your publishing path is yours alone. Neither is an easy choice or a get rich quick opportunity, and both mean HARD WORK and rejection.
Let me clarify, being grateful to be Indie has nothing to do with confidence in my writing. In the last couple of months I have learned to believe in myself more than ever. I’m very proud of all my books, and I’m exceptionally happy with the latest thriller, ALL GOOD DEEDS, and the Lucy Kendall character.
I’m grateful I chose Indie because I don’t have to worry about an agent rejecting me because of personal preference, or because the marketing department doesn’t know if they could sell my book, or because I used two spaces at the end of a sentence instead of one (true story.) I get to bypass all that and focus on the story and the writing.
And while there are writing rules we all must follow (Grammar, anyone?! And the three-act structure), I don’t have to worry about pleasing the status quo or taking risks. I don’t know if an agent or editor or marketing department would have believed in Lucy Kendall. But that doesn’t matter, because I do.
DISCLAIMER #3: Indie Publishing isn’t for the faint of heart. I believe in investing in your business, and that means paying for good, EXPERIENCED editors and cover artists.
Now, a word on editing. It’s everything. I pay for developmental, copyediting, and proofing. And I will continue to do so because I learn so much about writing every time my editor tears apart my manuscript. To me, Indie publishing means subcontracting the editing, formatting, and cover art. That means I’m a business, and to be successful, you have to invest in the highest quality available.
But the best part of this journey is that I don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone but myself and the readers. I get to put them first, and that’s extremely liberating!
Writing isn’t about the royalty (although that’s a beautiful bonus), but about being able to stay true to the story in my head and my heart. I’m blessed to have editors who understand my vision but won’t hesitate to tell me when I’m derailing.
Just to be clear, this post isn’t about traditional vs. Indie. I hate that argument. Only you can decide what’s best for your career, and what will make you happy in the long run. The beauty is that we have so many more choices than we did five years ago. Despite all the extra headaches that come with being Indie published, I’m so grateful to have made that choice.
What about you? Do you love your chosen publishing path? Or are you still trying to decide which is right for you?
I am totally happy with being indie. I’m kind of a control freak, so I would be very unhappy if I was told I had to change my title or my cover. Also, I would hate to be told WHEN my book would be out. I get to choose my publishing date. I would be chomping at the bit if my book was ready but the publisher wasn’t ready for it to be published.
It used to be that traditional publishing could sometimes be better in the marketing department. But unless you’re a “big” author, you have to do your own marketing anyway. So why share royalties with someone who isn’t helping you?
Indie isn’t for everyone. You have to consider it your business, and you have to work hard. Some writers want to ONLY write, and they would probably be better off with traditional publishing. But I love the business end of thing, too! Indie is for me.
I know all about being a control freak, lol. The publishing date is a big one, along with pricing. It’s nice to have the liberty to change the price at any time, especially if there is a sales slowdown or promo we want to do.
Agree on the marketing. 99% of newly signed authors aren’t going to get any help with it, and that’s a major factor for me.
Yes on considering it a business – that is the only way to approach it. Some writers definitely wouldn’t be suited to it, and the best thing about being a writer now is that we have so many options.