A few years ago, I write a post about why I chose to have my first two books traditionally published.
Now with a couple books under my belt, I made a 180-degree turn and now choose to publish as an indie (self-published) author for the foreseeable future. So why the change? In short, my needs and priorities have changed.
A Recap of Why I Went Traditional In The First Place
When I was an unpublished author, I wanted to have the validation of having an agent and eventually a publisher say “yes” to my book. Kind of an ego thing, but nothing wrong with that. Now that my first two books have been published by Alibi, an imprint of Penguin Random House, that need has been met. Validation accomplished.
One of the reasons I didn’t want to self-publish right off the bat was the stigma associated with being a self-published author. The idea that my work just wasn’t up to snuff. This ties in to the whole validation thing.
I also didn’t want the major expense of having to pay for a cover designer, an editor, and an interior formatter. And at the time, I still feel that was the right decision. A good editor isn’t cheap. Neither is a good cover designer. The formatting of the interior I can now handle myself thanks to Vellum and InDesign.
So Why The Big Change Now?
For starters, one of the things that did bother me about the contract that I signed with Alibi was their insistence I sign over my print rights when they had absolutely no intention of creating a print version of the book.
I knew this going in. And I had to make a choice. Surrender my print rights or turn down the offer and risk not having anyone publish the books. I take full responsibility for my decision to sign. That said, squatting on an author’s rights is a pretty shitty thing to do.
Two Books and Out
I was also disappointed that Alibi chose not to extend the series past the first two books. I still had more books I wanted to write about Shea Stevens. Alibi made the the right choice for them. Sales were decent, but not up to the usual Big Five standards. And no other publisher would likely pick up the series where the first two left off. So if I choose to write more books in the series, I will have to publish them myself.
I Can Afford to Pay Professionals
Hiring freelance editors and cover designers are big expenses. But I can afford to do that now. So with the greater freedom and greater potential rewards, why the hell not! And with Vellum and InDesign, I can handle the interior formatting myself.
I Am Connected with Other Indie Authors
One of my greatest discoveries over the past year was the Alliance of Independent Authors. This is an active, international community of independent authors organized by Orna Ross and Joanna Penn. They have a regular podcast full of up-to-date information. There is also a Facebook group for members that is a great resource for getting questions answered. They put out a directory of vetted service providers like freelance editors and cover designers. It is truly a valuable resource. And I love that it’s based in London with members all over the world. It gives me a more global perspective.
The Stigma Is Rapidly Fading
With more and more traditionally published authors making the switch (or going hybrid at least), the stigma of being an indie author is rapidly fading. As a community we are holding ourselves more to a professional standard than in the past.
Sure, there are still plenty of authors selling poorly edited books with homemade covers. But when an author does take the time to put out a book with a professional cover and which is professionally edited, the reader could care less who published it.
Mo Money, Mo Money, Mo Money!
With Alibi, we split the net profits 50-50. And for traditionally published authors, that’s a really good deal. But now I don’t have to split the profits. It’s all mine. And I still have all of my rights. I can change the price whenever I choose. I can do a promotion when I choose. I have the flexibility to market my book the way it needs to be marketed. I’m no longer just a cog in the publisher’s wheel, hoping for some attention.
This is particularly important because my new series features a transgender bounty hunter as a protagonist. I had trouble getting a publisher interested in a lesbian biker. I don’t think the Big Five are ready to take on transgender crime fiction. Just a tad progressive for their twentieth century mindset. But I’m connected to my transgender community. I know how to reach out.
Bottom line, becoming my own publisher was finally the right choice for me. And I am proud to be indie.