Going indie: Is self-publishing for you?

JamieLeeScottNote from Jenna: This guest post from one of my favorite writers and colleagues: Jamie Lee Scott

Jamie is an amazing author, screenwriter, and entrepreneur who has a real handle on the world of independent publishing. I asked her to share her insights about the differences and advantages of self-publishing versus traditional publishing, since I know many of us are considering the indie publishing route.

Enjoy it — I know I learned a ton just from reading her piece.

Jenna

 

 

The (not so) New World of Indie Publishing

by Jamie Lee Scott

It wasn’t long ago that self-publishing was deemed “vanity” publishing and was frowned upon by the traditional establishment.

Fast forward to 2011, and a new landscape.

Vanity is a word no longer in the vocabulary, and writers no longer need the traditional gatekeepers (agents, editors, publishers) to tell them what will sell and what won’t, what’s hot and what’s not. Writers can now write what they love and get it in front of readers in record time. Traditional publishers may take as long as two years to get a book from contract to readers, where an independently published author can do the same in a matter of weeks or months. 

My choice to go indie

My decision to publish independently was easy.

I had Let Us Prey finished and I’d been sending out query letters for months. It had been getting some interest when my friend, New York Times bestselling author Jennie Bentley, asked me if I was interested in self-publishing. At the time I wasn’t even sure what self-publishing was, so I did my research. Jennie explained that if I took a contract with a small publisher, with a tiny advance, I’d be lucky to see my book in print by 2013, and even luckier to earn out my advance.

My chances of earning money from my book, and making enough to want to write another would be better if I jumped the traditional ship and waded into the indie publishing waters. Jennie, who herself was wading in those waters with a series of her own, threw me a life vest, and together we swam like our lives depended on it.

If I’d gone the traditional route, I’d be languishing with the mid-list authors, making a few thousand dollars a year if I was lucky, instead I’ve published five novels, one novella, and closed my manufacturing business to concentrate exclusively on my writing.

And I’m not alone.

Two extremely successful, and very generous writers, Liliana Hart and Jana DeLeon, were pioneers in indie publishing, have paved the way for many of us and are part of a collaborative effort to help others in a book called The Naked Truth about Self-PublishingThey’ve been the faces and voices for the masses along with many others who have paid it forward. There are too many to name here, but rest assured you will find them at conferences and talking to authors, generous with their information.

The writer is responsible for all aspects of the publishing process

The biggest difference between traditional and indie publishing is that the writer is responsible for all aspects of the publishing process

So, if done well, the process is going to cost some money. How much depends on how professional you want your books to look.

Don’t skimp on editors, or cover design. Don’t judge a book by its cover doesn’t apply here, because the cover is the first glimpse and may sometimes be the only thing that makes the reader want to look further. If your cover looks as professional as the New York Times bestseller covers, you have a better chance the browser will look at the book description than if the book has an amateurish cover. Giving the book a fighting chance at the start is a must.

And then don’t turn them off by not having the book professionally edited. This book is going to sell your next book. If it isn’t well-written, and edited, you aren’t going to sell the next one, so why bother?

Spend the money now, and you’ll reap the rewards in the long run.

Whether you are traditionally published or indie, you are your marketing director.

Unless you signed a multi-million dollar traditional contract, no one is going to be running a PR campaign for you. The writing is the easy part.

So, now that the first book is written, great, now get your butt back in the seat and start writing the next one. In between, become a marketing guru, and help others along the way if you can.

Podcast in the making

I’ve been so lucky to have help from so many along the way, including the authors of Mirth, Murder and Mystery, that I decided to start a podcast to help others who are interested in becoming authors, either traditionally published or indie published. The podcast is called Indie Girl’s Guide to Self-Publishing and launches this December. It’s a weekly podcast for authors to help navigate the ins and outs of the crazy but interesting and possibly lucrative world of indie publishing.

This is not a get rich quick scheme

Lest you mistakenly think this is a get rich quick scheme, let me assure you, it’s long hours, hard work, and lots of blood, sweat and tears. The market (and algorithms) change on a dime, and keeping up is part of the game. Not only do indie authors have to keep writing, they have to keep in touch with the markets, changes, and much, much more.

Is it worth it?

I think so.

diamonds2

Jamie Lee Scott is the USA Today bestselling author of the Gotcha Detective Agency Mystery Series, and the founder of Indie Girl Self-Publishing Podcast.

She’s the co-founder of Script Chat #scriptchat and TV Writer Chat #tvwriterchat on Twitter, and writer of the award winning short film No One Knows.


You can find Jamie online on Facebook, Twitter, and at her websites, www.jamieleescott.com and www.indiegirlselfpub.com.


diamonds2Thanks for reading!

Note: Amazon links in this post are affiliate links and may generate a small amount of referral income for this blog.

 

 

Comments

  1. Carol T says:

    Awesome information! Looking forward to the podcasts! Tyty Jamie Lee Scott n Jenna Avery!

  2. Great article, Jamie, and I hope I can track you down at Bouchercon. My publisher closed suddenly last summer two months before my big luau launch party for DYING FOR A DAIQUIRI was scheduled. Thanks to all the wonderful early indie authors like Jana and Lilliana who were willing to share their resources with other authors, I was able to re-release the first two books plus the third in my humorous mystery series in six weeks. Of course I gave up sleeping for those six weeks but it was so worth it. I couldn’t imagine not having control of all aspects of publishing ever again. Thanks for sharing your story.

Speak Your Mind

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: