Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why I Went Indie

A few posts ago I mentioned that I had many reasons for going indie.  Gonna talk about it a bit here today.  We'll just dive in with the list.

1. Politics.
I support independent movies and independent music, so it only makes sense that as a writer I decide to go indie as well. In any deal made with the "industry" (book, movie, music, whatever) the creator is the one who's going to get screwed, and the company they work for is going to get the bulk of the $. Yes, there are usually multiple people involved in the production of a product, but the most money is going to go to some jerkwad middle-aged white guy in a suit who probably hates whatever it is that's making him money.  I'm against middle-aged white guys in suits (you know, The Man). I don't want my hard work to end up in their too-fat wallets. Screw that.

2. $$$.
When it comes to traditional publishing the writer is lucky to get about 4% royalties from each book sold. The standard for most ebook companies is around 40%, though some go as high as 60%.  Many times with novella works and shorter the author will get a one-time payment of $25 to $150, regardless of how much money the publishers make. Even if you're picked up by an ebook company you're still encouraged to do your own promotion to sell books. No one else is gonna do it for you. With each novella length and longer book I make 70% of the sales, which makes me pretty damn happy. Now, lots of people make plenty of money both traditionally and with ebook publishers, but I'm just as likely to go unnoticed in one of those places as I am self-pubbing.

3. Story Length.
I write best in the short form. I think it's mostly because I like TV shows so much. I wanna write lots of short stories about the same characters that I get to know over a long period of time. As a result, my best works usually fall into the 12k to 30k word-length. This is too short for traditional publishing, and that's just fine now that ebooks are a thing.

4. Distribution.
This is mostly in regards to ebooks. When you go with a company you are likely only going to see your book on their site. Besides Amazon my books are available at Barnes & Noble, the itunes store, kobo and more. (Thanks Smashwords!) My free stories are scattered across the internet on sites like Fictionpress and Literotica, all of them linking to my website where people can *gasp* buy more books! I love giving away free copies because the feedback I get means more to me than the money. As an Indie I can choose to give away as many copies as I want, where a publisher is gonna look at the bottom line.

5. Creative Control.
Am I a control freak? Maybe. But I like having 100% control of the finished product of my book. I can't blame anyone but myself if something doesn't go right and everything will be exactly the way I want it. I've been published in two anthologies with covers that make my want to retch. I'm glad I was paid a flat fee instead of royalties because I wouldn't have made any with those hideous covers.  In one case I wonder if they sold enough copies to cover paying the writers.  (Covers sell books, you can't convince me otherwise.) Anyway, I like designing my own covers. I'm pretty good at it and love making art out of text and layout and photos.

6. I Have Issues.
As you may have noticed if you follow me on twitter, I have depression, anxiety, and god knows what else. I don't like interacting with people, especially about 'official' things.  I go weeks between checking my email, especially if I know there will be something important in it. Editors freak me the fuck out.  Paperwork sends me into panic attacks. Negative experiences will turn me off of something completely. Now this isn't healthy, but until I live in a society that takes care of its citizens, I gotta deal with my brain-sick on my own. If I'm self-publishing there isn't gonna be any emails or phone calls freaking me out because something is over-due, or that they wanna completely change the ending of my book because "its too depressing." Yeah it's depressing. I'm mentally ill over here! Get over it! (Sorry, I'm back.)

7. Moar $$$.
Self-publishing used to cost a small fortune, and very likely the books would end up sitting in boxes in the author's garage. It's different nowadays. An e-book costs me between $0 and $10 to produce, depending on whether or not I need to purchase a cover image. On-demand printing only costs a few dollars.  You can pay an editor, or between computer programs and your friends you can find any problem areas with a book on your own for nothing. There is literally NO RISK in self-publishing your book these days. So why not do it?

So there you go--7 beautiful "Pros" to going indie. Personal, monetary, and creative. To be fair I will chat about the "Cons" as well.

Yes, there are often HUGE quality control issues with self-publishing, but lets look at the real publishing world for a moment here. Twilight? 50 Shades? I won't even talk about the mass-produced garbage I read as a kid.  Yeah, my books might have one or two errors and an awkward sentence here and there, but the over-all stories and writing are solid, which is more than I can say for at least 1/2 of the drivel the publishing companies put out every year. Put out a good product and it will speak for itself.

It's not so easy to get into book stores when you're self-publishing. When Deadly Liaisons comes out in print the very last thing I want to do is hoof it to every book store and porn store in the city (we have lots of both, luckily). If I decide its too scary, that'll be my loss, but it can be done.

If you do get into that big wide world of traditional publishing there is a shiny $5,000 check waiting for you, but chances are thats the only money you will ever see. When your first book doesnt sell (it probably wont) its really hard to get that second book out with one failure under your belt, and the publishing company will decide when you get your rights to your own work back.  That's right, they own your ass (that is, your book) for however many years before the rights revert back to you and you can go publishing somewhere else (or on your own).  But, that is $5k you didn't have before, so it's something to consider.

Okay, so those Cons still sound like Pros for self-publishing...I must really care or something. :) Cheers.


  1. This resonates with me: particularly about writing best in the short form. I'm not ruling out approaching a traditional publisher, but for now, self publishing is definitely right for me.

  2. I love all of your reasons for self-publishing and I have to say I agree. Glad there are more of us out there :-)