How To Become an Effective Indie Author: Part 1

27 06 2013

How I Became an Effective Indie Author: Part 1

The first question I’m asked when people discover that I’m an Indie- Author is whether I approached or considered approaching agents or publishers. The answer? Not even once. I never considered this option.

I was very lucky to benefit from the advice of several authors who’ve spent some years in the publishing industry. In particular, I had a long chat with Gavin Bain, a friend of mine who’s experienced in the music and literary business. We chatted about agents, contracts, advances, small publishers versus large ones and I spent months doing my own research on the business. With a push from Gavin I followed my gut instinct to go Indie. I’ve never regretted this and set up my company to help other Indie-Authors produce the best quality book that they can, but maintain control of their work.

Having decided upon my route, here’s a short blog on how I initially set about establishing myself as an Indie-author and began the process of producing the best quality product that I could and establish a readership. This is the first of a series of articles designed to aid new and existing Indie-Authors.

Self- Publishing or Traditional?

During the process of writing my debut novel, Bobby’s Boy I went back and forward in my decision as to whether engage in the process of wooing an agent/publisher. When I started writing, I firmly stood in the self-publish camp. As I progressed with the book, I researched the industry more and more. Royalties, advances, agents, services performed by the publishing house and or the agent, big or small publisher? There was and is a lot to learn. I did weeks of research, seeking out those agents and publishers (mostly independent) whom I thought would like me and my book, and whom I thought I’d like to work with. That list remains unused at present.

More and more, as I immersed myself in the snaking and shaded corridors of the literary industry, the same nagging questions came back to me. Is it worth giving away control of my work for the potential exposure a big publisher might bring? It seemed to me that if these guys deigned to take you, they’d in all probability change your work endlessly, until it fit their formulaic idea of what a commercial novel should be, which is fine for some writers, but not for me. It seemed that most of the promo and marketing would be done by me rather than them anyway, so why should I give them such a huge chunk of my potential earnings and, more importantly, complete control over the words that I had spent so many hours writing? What was more important? Potential earnings or creative control?

Advances: For many authors, it seems that an advance, especially a huge one, is the holy grail. I just don’t understand this mentality at all. Sure an advance is a nice pat on the back, and an indication that your book is commercial enough (or at least can be made to be, in the payer’s opinion). It also seems like a good way of allowing the author the privilege and means to write full-time. For me, it’s a scary prospect.

An advance simply means that you’re in debt to the issuer until your sales repay the money. If the sales take years to do so? Well, you’re in hock to them for years, and quite probably on a deadline for at least one more book. No thanks. Add this to the fact that a large portion of publishers give their newly-published books only a very short time to hit serious sales before shifting their enthusiasm and attention elsewhere, it added to my unease.

Agents: Whilst there are of course many good quality agents, who work hard for their clients, let’s remember two key things about them. Firstly, they do try to get the best deal for their authors, but that may mean something different to them than it does to the author, in terms of cash, advances or the prestige of a particular publishing house over creative control or effective care from the publisher. Your agent represents a business; the more money(debt) they get for you, the more money they themselves make, and that is their primary objective.

I also dislike that most publishers now only take submissions from those who have an agent. It’s like a whole level of the industry exists as a vetting and an introductory service. Having said that, for a variety of reasons, now that publishing is more accessible, agents may have had their time in the long term.

Secondly, they will take around 15% of your money, which is already a very small percentage (somewhere between 7 -15%) when considering the fact that you worked so hard on your book and will continue to work your arse off promoting the book, publisher or no publisher (unless of course you’re very high on the publishers’ radar). Whilst the services of agents can be very valuable, if you take the traditional publisher out of the picture, there’s really no place for an agent.

Smaller publishing houses, like my own, offer a more personal service and are generally more engaged with and passionate about the work they’ve chosen to represent.

Having said that, if you have or can develop the skills, techniques, network and contacts, there’s no need for a small publisher; you can do it yourself with the right assistance.

This is where the effective Indie-Author exists. In the centre of a web of professionals; editors, proof-readers, formatters and cover designers, hired by the author to polish his/her work and free the author up to do what he/she does best…Write.

For me it was a no-brainer. However, a small part of me, the one that’s low on self-esteem, told me that I needed the recognition from an agent or publisher that my book was “good”. I ignored that needy version of me and ploughed on, buoyed by the research I’d done into the standard of eBooks out there. As far as I could see, my book was as good as many self-published eBooks, and better than most (there’s the tiny little bit of ego/confidence I do possess asserting itself).

As things stand; using several industry professionals who are competitively priced, and more importantly better at editing etc than me, I’ve published two full length novels, a short-story collection and a novella. In addition I’ve recently founded a small Independent publishing company, dedicated to supporting good authors, with quality books, but who lack the technical skills to represent their work.

In addition to this, PDP is also committed to bringing resources to and empowering authors, Indie or otherwise, and will continue to add to our resource pages.

As the lovely Edith Piaf says: “je ne regrette rien” (so far)

You can find my books on Amazon, US and Amazon, UK. You can find our Indie-Author resources pages at Paddy’s Daddy Publishing.

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3 responses

11 07 2013
How to Become and Effective Indie Author Part 2 – Formatting | Paddy's Daddy Publishing Blog

[…] The second in a series of how to self publish by our founder, Mark Wilson. You can find part 1 here […]

20 07 2013
Luella

My relatives always say that I am wasting my time here at net,
except I know I am getting experience daily by reading
such pleasant content.

24 07 2013
Indie Author Land interview | Jaye Em Edgecliff

[…] How I Became an Effective Indie Author: Part 1 (paddysdaddy.wordpress.com) […]

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