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.




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.


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.



Cutting Out the Middleman

As a sideline trend-watcher, I’ve been particularly interested in a trend I think of as “cutting out the middleman.”

Now, more than ever before, we are able to share our thoughts, ideas, projects, and creations even more directly (and immediately) with our audience.

For instance:

Writing a book? Self-publishing is the answer for many.

So many authors are not only circumventing the traditional publishing route and doing press runs themselves, but they are even publishing their own digital books for Kindle and other such platforms as a way of getting their work into the world.

Brian Rathbone, a fantasy author I had the pleasure of interviewing, has published his books on at least 10 different digital platforms (both ebooks and audiobooks), and he’s carving out a niche helping other authors do the same.

Can’t find anyone to back your show? Get it out there yourself.

Joss Whedon — my hero! — has done this with his Serenity, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel & Faith comic books as a way of getting his visual art into the world.

I know of an emerging screenwriter who has hired his own artists to help him get his short screenplays into visual form.

I also love how Felicia Day took matters into her own hands with her web-series, The Guild, and married her love of online gaming with her passion for acting, and made her own show.

Joss Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog was similarly inspired.

Want to shoot a movie but don’t have the big backers? Do it yourself, on a budget.

Edward Burns is gaining notoriety for getting out there with cameras and a small team and making some incredible films happen that are surpassing other hugely funded projects in quality and audience-appeal.

Many others are following suit.

Have something to say but haven’t gotten the speaking tour or TV spot yet? Broadcast away on YouTube and LiveStream to your heart’s content.

Now more than ever, activists, artists, and entrepreneurs have accessible resources at their disposal to spread the word about their work. We can blog, write, teach, videocast, and so much more to get our work into the world.

Have a class you want to teach? Get a bridgeline, rent a space, or press the Go Live button and share it with your audience Right Now.

What we can appreciate about this:

I love how these artists are answering the question, “How can I get my work into the hands, minds, and hearts of my audience NOW?”

Cutting out the middleman (the agents, publishers, producers, studios, etc.) lets us connect with our tribe immediately. And in this instant gratification society, that’s pretty darn powerful.

On the other hand:

On the other side of the coin however, we are truly glutted with information like never before, and it can be hard to sift the chaff from the wheat. Those middlemen do a lot of the work for us, deciding what is high enough quality to pass the test. But yet again, often pieces of brilliance are overlooked and left behind.

Is this a good thing?

Your Turn

I’d love to hear from you about:

  • What you think about this trend?
  • As an artist or entrepreneur, how might you or have you cut out the middleman?
  • Was it a good thing?


Coming Attractions

~> July & August. Doing Creative Destiny Assessments with visionary creatives ready to claim their creative destiny. Details coming soon.

~> August 4th. My next Life Purpose Breakthrough ‘Big Vision’ Group. SOLD OUT. Details. If you’re interested in the next group (probably in September), email my team here and we’ll add you to the list.

~> September. Beta-testing my new writer’s accountability system with a select group and offering Life Purpose Coaching Groups. Stay tuned for more info.


~> MONDAYS. Right Brain Business Planning with my buddy Kris Carey.

~> FRIDAYS. Sacred writing days. The Do Not Disturb sign is up.

~> Vacationing with my family in August (at least part of it!).