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Thoughts On Pros & Cons of Going Indie

I’ll be on a panel at AWP in February (2012) so I’ve created this little handout for whoever attends. I thought I’d share it with others who won’t be there. It’s a list of the reasons I had for becoming an Indie author. And then a list of the reasons I came up with against becoming an Indie author. Hint: that list is shorter.

By the way, I’ve now published five books as an Indie. One with co-author Karen Cantwell. And two under my pen name L B Swan and co-author’s pen name Hope Chandler. I leave it up to her to share her real name with you.

My short story collection Maybelle’s Revenge is pictured here.

Here’s a brief list of the reasons why I decided to go Indie:
1. Didn’t want to wait for someone else – an agent, an editor, the marketing dept. of a publishing house etc. – to give me permission to sell my book.
2. Didn’t want to waste the time to wait for the traditional process to take hold. I’d rather be writing my next book.
3. Friends who have books with traditional publishers are not always happy with their situation or outcomes (no matter what advance they got, even the huge ones).
4. Takes years to get an agent. Then takes months (or more) for the agent to sell it to an editor. Then it takes at least 1.5 yrs (and many longer than that) to come out with the hardcover.
5. Publishers promote a book [sometimes lackadaisically] for about 2 months and then move on leaving the author to do the rest of the promoting on his own (or not at all).
6. Everything the authors do to promote their own work is what I would be doing anyway for a Kindle edition.
7. Kindle (or other apps like Nook & iPad) sales are growing rapidly while bookstore sales are declining.
8. Readers purchase more Kindle type books because of the price & recent stats say they read more/buy more books.
9. The author gets immediate feedback on sales figures and can have an impact on sales through promotions of all kinds.
10. Publishers keep authors in the dark about sales except twice a year when they send out royalty statements so authors never know how their book is doing.
11. Kindle costs nothing to publish, although that depends on the amount of work you pay others to do pre-pubbing.
12. But the biggest reason for me is the control issue. I feel I’m in control of my future to the degree that is possible.

And here’s an even briefer list of the downside of going Indie (IMO):
1. No advance. But realize that the average fiction advance is somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000. And that is against royalties so if your book doesn’t sell enough to cover that, you will never see another dime and not likely publish again.
2. I’ll never get a traditional review but writers who get published by small presses or in paperback won’t either and there are fewer and fewer book reviews in the traditional print media or anywhere else anyway.
3. Never [except in small numbers if you also put your book out in a print version] have bookstore sales.
4. Never have the caché of being with a traditional “house.”
5. You must be prepared to handle all the business elements of putting a book together on your own. This includes but may not be limited to copy editing, proofing, cover design, formatting, and promoting.

Finally, no matter how they produce their books, more authors than ever are reaching their readers over the Internet. Blogs, Facebook, message boards, Twitter, and all the other media are great ways to reach potential readers. If a writer is willing to put the time into connecting with readers through social networking, there is great potential to develop an audience.
There is a fairly steep learning curve to going Indie. But tens of thousands of writers have done it so it is certainly possible, doable, and can be rewarding – psychically as well as financially.

Some Sites Of Interest
Kindleboards/Writers Cafe

Of particular interest here is Writers’ Cafe within Book Bazaar where you can lurk or participate on the threads. Any question you have has probably already been answered on some thread but there are thousands by now so you can also start a thread and you’ll get lots of feedback. A very friendly, helpful, and expansive writing community of mostly Indies but some crossovers in both directions – Indie to trad pubs & vice versa and sometimes both at the same time. Generally cordial and supportive. If anyone gets snarky the moderators jump in & quiet things down again. BTW, moderators are also very nice and helpful.

A Newbies Guide To Publishing

Joe Konrath is well known. He’s been published for years. Read his blog. If you’re new to Indie pubbing, go back to his blogs in 2009 & 2010 to see how the early adopters started to figure out the momentous changes in publishing. Joe is very entertaining. Opinionated but he backs up his opinions with facts & #s. And he works damned hard as do all Indies. As Joe points out all the time, this is a job. Don’t expect long lunch breaks and incentivized vacations.

My Website & Blog
I’ve posted a few of my own experiences with Indie pubbing and also done a few author interviews. One in particular with John Locke who’s fame is that he sold a million e-books through Amazon. By now it’s way more but that was then. It’s an interesting interview titled Wanna Sell A Million Books?

Amanda Hocking’s blog
Personally I hate this site & it’s mostly a huge collection of promos for her books etc. And it’s painful to scroll through but, if you look at the blogroll on the left side you can go back to when she began in 2009 & see her progression when she started as an Indie. It’s interesting. Not that anyone else is going to duplicate her experience. But good background and info.
Speaks for itself. Everything you want or need to know about Indie pubbing @ Amazon.
Everything you want or need to know about Indie pubbing (epub or print) @ B&N.

Everything you want or need to know about Indie pubbing @ Smashwords, a site where you make your book available to any/every e-reader device.
Everything you want or need to know about Indie pubbing in PRINT @ These people are great to work with and the only cost to you (unless you hire them to do something for you) is the cost to order one proof of your book – about 5 bucks +/-.

My contact info:
Twitter: @L_BGschwandtner

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1 Comment

  1. February 8, 2012


    Thanks for writing this… it’s fascinating and informative. You know, you’re not just a friend – you are in many ways someone I look up to with regard to indie publishing – I have gone through 2 (supposedly A-list) agents within a year and a half – the first one rewrote entire parts of my novel (!), the other was utterly ineffectual. A 3rd agent wants the book and I am rather hesitant. I see how prolific you are with regard to putting excellent material on Kindle and how you are promoting it and I commend you. And, like you, I like the idea of being in control of one’s own work…

    I am a bit intimidated by how to do this all initially – indie-wise – but as you say, it can be done…!

    Good luck on your latest, ‘Maybelle’s Revenge’ – by the way!


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