Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Debunking Indie Myths!

Today I'm debunking myths within the indie world. In other words, I've heard some crazy rumors flying around some writing blogs and I want to get the truth out for a couple of reasons. 1) I hate how negative rumors can ruin a very good thing. 2) If I were a new writer considering indie publishing my book, I know for a fact that if I read some of the false blogs about inflated costs, I'd probably never take the risk to indie pub my books and that makes me sad. :(

Some of these blogs are written by agents. Why would an agent write such a blog? Because agents are hurting right now. Why are they hurting? Because as an indie author, you don't need an agent. You don't even need a publisher.

These are the basic things you need and this is the stone cold truth.

1) A Written Manuscript 2) A Good Editor 3)Beta Readers 4)Cover Artist 5) Guts 6) The Desire to Learn the Indie Ropes of Formatting and Marketing

How do I know? Because I've been an indie author for the past 15 months and because I've signed contracts at three different publishers. I've received the rights back to all six of my books and re-released all but one of them at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The sixth is soon to re-release. I have also released three new titles as an indie author and I'm currently working on a brand new indie release.

Why would I do this when I have already been published at houses who paid for my cover art, my editor and plastered my book all over their website you ask? Because the cost to me is very, very low compared to the profit I NOW MAKE. I was making some sucky royalties at my publishers and they really didn't help market my book other than putting it up for sale on their websites. Even when I did author chats, book giveaways and book signings, I made a fraction of what I make now as an indie author. At my previous publishers, I made only 7% to 13% in royalties. As an indie author, I make anywhere from 35% to 70%, depending on how I price my books. Also, I have total creative control over my book and my cover art. Pretty cool, huh? And no more gatekeepers..the readers are the new gatekeepers, not the Big 6 publishers and certainly no agents. If the readers enjoy your book, they will buy it. Kinda like Field of Dreams...."Build it and they will come."

So, we've established that I make way more money as an indie author. That's a huge reason to take the indie plunge. I've mentioned creative freedom...something every artist wants, whether you're a painter, a songwriter, an author or a sculptor. Creative freedom is bliss!

Of course, like anything else, indie publishing requires patience and learning but this isn't rocket science, folks. The hardest thing I had to learn was how to format my books but Amazon and Barnes and Noble has made it pretty simple these days, besides, if you don't have the patience to format your own books, you can hire a formatter for under a hundred bucks to do it for you. There are many formatters who will do it for forty bucks, sometimes less.

So, you need to hire an editor too, right? If you're lucky like me, you have amazing writer friends, some with editing backgrounds who will trade services with you and edit your book for free. And even if you have to hire one, there are plenty who will edit a book for again, a hundred dollars or less depending on manscript length.

You can hire an affordable cover artist as well who will design you a VERY PROFESSIONAL cover. My recent cover art costs $45 bucks. Go look at Voodoo Moon on my website HERE and judge for yourself. There are many, many very talented cover artists out there who will give you a great deal. And if you're great at Photo Shop or want to take the time to buy the software and learn how to design cover art yourself, you'll be one step ahead of the game.

There are also some sharks out there who will charge you an arm and a leg. Watch out! A great place to find affordable cover artists, editors and formatters is on Kindle Boards where indie authors talk shop.

You can also find great Beta Readers who love to read and will read your book for free just so they can get a free book! Many will also review your book pre-release. These Beta Readers can be found on writers and readers groups on Facebook and there are many reader blogs with tons of willing readers.

Some of the anti-indie blogs out there are spouting inflated prices for editing, formatting and cover art services....prices that would scare any newbie author to death! Prices like $3,000 to release a book, plus the cost of marketing. I'm debunking that myth. TOTALLY FALSE. My recent release cost me $45 bucks for cover art. That's it. I've had a few releases that cost me nada! That's right...ZERO DOLLARS...because I worked out a trade with my fabulous cover artist and editor!

For promo, I tweet a little bit, blog a little bit and post on Facebook a little bit. I used to waste a ton of great writing time on marketing but have now learned that writing the next book is the best promo!! Don't waste your time like I did. Build your backlist and keep writing. The more books you have out there, the bigger your royalty checks.

Another thing about royalties. The great thing about publishing your books at Amazon and B&N is that you can log on anytime of the day and see your sales. Most all publishers in the world do not allow you do this if you sign a contract. Some do, but they are few and far between. So, how do you TRULY know how many books you sold? You don't. I'm not accusing anyone, just saying you need to be careful who you submit your baby to. Some of the small presses can be rather shady and yes, I've heard from many other authors who have experienced high sales rankings but their royalty checks didn't reflect it. You're in the dark when you sign a contract with someone else and you're giving them the biggest chunk of the pie. You worked the hardest! You wrote when your loved ones were sleeping so you could get your book out, yet you sign a contract that gives the publisher more mooolah than you? Are you insane? I was!

I've met a lot of authors over the years and a lot of bestselling authors. Even bestselling authors don't always make the most money. I know one author who wrote for Dorchester and made 7 cents a book because of her crappy contract and she was and is still a bestselling author. I've heard tons of sob stories from underpaid hard working authors. The indie world is changing all that. Many readers have no clue, but right now, the publishing world is turned upside down. So upside down that some are calling Traditional Publishing the new vanity press! What other reason would you sign an unfair contract than for the simple fact that you want to see that book for sale at Wal-Mart when you buy your groceries or you want to see a big fat display at Barnes and Noble in the window? Pretty tempting for any author, huh?

Some writers tell me that it isn't about the money for them. They just want their book released. They don't care about the money. Hmmm...well, okay. I guess I care a little too much about the money but like it not, this is the book business and I AM here to make money but I also do it because I love to write and I love my readers. If you don't care about the money, you might not want to indie publish but if you're sick of sending out queries and synopsis and getting snarky letters from agents and publishers or no response at all, you might want to take the indie plunge. Kinda refreshing to see your indie book really take off when it was rejected by many agents and publishers.

But make no mistake, readers expect the best! Write the best book you can, hire a professional editor, a professional formatter and a professional cover artist and like the NIKE ad says...JUST DO IT!! Free yourself from the chains of the antiquated Dinosaur called Traditional Publishing.

And I'd like to say something else as well. I'm not against all traditional publishing. There are some great contracts to be signed out there. They are just few and far betweeen. They are some great publishers out there and some great agents and there is nothing wrong with writing for those houses if you're getting a fair deal. This blog post is for those who are not getting a fair deal on their author contracts but it is mostly about debunking the crazy myths floating around out there about the ridiculously over inflated prices to indie pub a book. That's all a load of crapola. You can do it for next to nothing if you have the heart and the desire and a great book! Also, indie pubbing is a terrific way to get noticed if you're wanting to catch the eye of a big publisher or agent. And when your book climbs the charts, believe me, they will be emailing you, coming to you, asking you to sign a sweet contract. I have seen it happen many times with great indie authors! Just make sure you have a lawyer read your contract to make sure it is a better deal for you.

These are interesting times in the writing world and exciting times to be an author!! I'll never look back and never regret taking the indie plunge. I have many more readers and make real income now. Kinda cool when your hobby becomes "a living".


Donya Lynne said...

I made the decision to become an indie author for most of the reasons you stated. I wanted to maintain creative control, first and foremost. And I LOVE that I can track my sales on a daily basis, whereas with my publisher, I can't. The biggest pitfall I'm finding is that quality editors are in short supply. I know editors who have no business editing. When they edit and leave my manuscript with more errors than it started with, there's a problem. Luckily for me, I have an excellent grasp of spelling, grammar, and editing and only need minor assistance in the editing department. The editor I do use catches the few errors I miss on my go-through. But going indie was definitely the right way to go for me.

Anonymous said...

I write under 2 names. Name A is published. Name B is indie pubbed. Part of this happened when the editor at name A's book -edited the voice right out of the story. There are a few books very dear to me and I refused to submit them. I epubbed them instead. Still went through cp and betas - but I feel they flow better and sound better than the others.

not putting my name here - sorry - publisher has no idea.

Lyric James said...

I have also been e-pubbed with a few small presses. I decided to try e-pubbing because basically, I heard it was so profitable. There were so many "traditionally" published authors who had become so successful at it that I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. And this year, I have made more money self-publishing the 2 short stories I self-published than all the money combined I still receive from my e-publishers. That right there is enough incentive for me to keep at it. Great post!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Alisha, I so agree with your post. I am making much more as an indie author. Another bonus is control--I set the price, I control the cover, the edits, marketing. What empowering knowledge that is! I have been spending too much time on marketing, but am now getting a handle on my time. Thanks.

Sky Purington said...

Great post, sweetie! Way to keep things in line for future Indie authors. You rock! xo


I have been pretty shocked at the amount of money my self pubbed novellas are making, compared to the many small e-pubbed books I've had out. My financial output has been less than 10%of my sales, and I'm only at Amazon--and this is since May 2012.

I find the money difference between my self published works and small digital publisher books shocking! But the difference is so clear it would be silly to go back to digital publishers and make 80% to 90% less just for a cover and editor, when you can shop around and get good deals on those.