Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A leap too far ...?

More and more, I am seeing writers extolling the virtues of going indie. How the traditional route takes too long and is full of rejection and heartbreak. How being published means sacrificing control of something almost too precious; of having titles changed without consultation, of book covers that have no author input and relate to nothing in the story. Of published authors who still have to keep a full-time job to pay the bills, and who spend every spare moment promoting their book instead of writing the next because now the publishing world leaves marketing to the writer. If you're going to be doing your own marketing anyway, why not go indie and reap any rewards yourself? The worst examples may be the rare horror story, but they are a stark warning to the writing world - this could happen to you.

So why am I still sitting on the fence, still considering both sides and waiting to fall one way or the other? First, I will confess to having had a blinkered view of self-publishing. It was something for those who could not get themselves published by the traditional route. A thing of vanity - I will see my name in print no matter what. A whim for those with the cash to fund it. I've learnt since then! The reputation of going indie is changing - has changed. The popularity of the e-reader has helped it along. So has print on demand. Unless you choose to spend out on lots of posh advertising, book covers etc the outlay can be minimal, or even nothing. There are plenty of ways to promote your book without it costing anything. There's no need to have huge boxes of printed books taking up space in your home and leaving your bank balance in the red.

At the start of 2010 as I made my first submissions, I made a vow. That if I hadn't found someone to take my book by the end of the year, I would self-publish. While I waited to hear back, I spent my time researching. Friends helped. I was recommended to a book printing service and a website specializing in images. I bought a few pieces of artwork for very little with the rights to print 500K copies, to use as book covers. I tested out a free trial on software to help you design book covers. I explored social media. I blogged. But as the end of the year approached with no real progress, I still lacked the courage for that final leap. With the success or failure of my book relying not only on my writing skills (or lack of) but my inexperience in the world of marketing and sales, it was just a little too far and a little too scary.

I don't feel that I need validation that I can write. I believe in myself enough - I have the confidence, perhaps even the arrogance to believe that I write well. I've even have experts tell me so. But I still believe in being published the traditional way, and once my final edit is done, I will go back to the submission process. Maybe at the end of this year, someone will take my book. Maybe at the end of this year, I'll go indie instead. I feel I have the choice of both worlds at the moment, and that isn't a bad place to be at all.

But the best thing I've seen in the whole debate is the collaboration between writers, whether published or non, traditional or indie. Fantastic people who support each other and give encouragement, who manage it as a team effort rather than a competition. Who are pleased for each other's successes, and sympathize with the failures. And that is awe-inspiring.

Which route have you chosen or are considering? And why did you make that choice?


  1. I, too, had a jaded view of self publishing, and went the traditional route, but I, too, have changed my mind. I think there are benefits to both, for sure, altho I'm not giving up my dream of Tor. Someday.

  2. I think it's great to have both options at the moment. And self-publishing doesn't necessarily preclude Tor one day. I don't yet have the sense of urgency that would give me the last push for indie.

  3. There's a middle road between "traditional" and "self" - by now, there are a host of reputable e-publishers, many of whom also release in print. Print publishers keep their eye on the best of those and a stellar author can sometimes get picked up that way - plus, when you do submit, you can demonstrate already having readers and a platform.


I always love to hear your thoughts.