Why I’m Choosing Indie Publishing

While on vacation a couple weeks ago, I made the decision to go with indie publishing. I’ve sent out somewhere from 20-30 agents in the last 3 months, most with the generic “No, thanks” but a few with an “Interesting premise” response. If it’s not for them, then that’s okay-I’m not taking it personally.

Some people might think I’m jumping the gun on this, that I need to take my time and do my research. Believe me, I have; I did months of research (not contacting) on agents and their desirable manuscript needs when I probably should’ve been polishing the last few chapters instead. But I’m impatient and excitable and like to multitask, so I do a bunch of things at once instead of focusing on them one at a time (don’t worry, I’m learning my lessons there).

My new friend and fantastic author Wren Emerson gives out tons of advice to new authors on her blog. At least, it’s advice to me because she chronicled her journey from the very first outline, when she published, even her stats on purchases. It’s been a great tool for me to stalk for ideas on software and get questions answered when I didn’t even know I had them yet. (Wren, sorry I just admitted to stalking to you. But you’ve been super helpful! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

When she set out to write a book, her blog held her accountable (a main reason I started mine as well). She didn’t write her book to make millions (though who would object?), but because she wanted to write it and put it out in the world for fellow fantasy lovers. But here’s the thing--she knew she wouldn’t take the traditional publishing route. She knew she wanted to independently publish “I Wish” and now she’s a successfully published author with a fan-base dying for more of her books. In this day and age of books, there’s no shame in being an indie published author. (We’re like the hipsters of the written word.) She’s written a great article here about why indie publishing was best for her.

She made a really good point that sometimes, we get so caught up in researching agents, writing query letters, and hiding in corners from rejection letters that we forget to work on what needs it most–our writing! And therein lies my problem-I’ve been so busy getting caught up in the whirlwind excitement/nausea of trying to put my first book out in the world that I’ve neglected working on the next adventure for my characters. I need to get working on Book 2 of my “Gifted” series. Like, real bad. After I finished the final edit and sent off a couple copies to beta readers, I took some time to relax (plus take a real vacation). But now I need to get serious and start working on the next outline. I’ve got Scrivener now, which will be a HUGE help with my outlines (I’m a pantser, not a plotter, which means I kinda throw a bunch of words on paper and go from there…okay at first, but not after you’ve written 190 pages and have no idea where to put a scene).

Yes, I’m impatient. Yes, I have a tendency to expect immediate results (which I know realistically is just plain dumb, so I’m working on it, ok?). Some people may ask, “You’ve already waited this long to put it out there, why not wait and keep seeing if an agent/traditional publisher will take it?” Because quite frankly, I’m done waiting. If I have an option to get my work out there, I want to do it. I’m a damn hard worker and the thought of marketing myself in an indie world doesn’t frighten me–whereas the thought of sitting around for months, praying someone emails me back to look at a full MS makes me cringe.

And you know what? While some of it may be due in part to control issues (I haz them), I REALLY sincerely love the indie author/writing community. Instead of bashing each other, they support, retweet, like, reply, and show genuine interest in what other writers are doing. I totally dig that-a support group is exactly what I need and I’ve already learned so much from just a handful of them. I can’t imagine how much smarter I’ll feel about all of this in a year, after I’ve stalked and nagged them for answers. They’re patient and sweet and give great feedback and I’ll be forever grateful to those who’ve helped me along the way. Unless you’re offering me $6 million, why would I ever want to leave such a great group?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Indie publishing seems like the most logical choice for me. Thinking about it, looking at my options and realistic goals, I simply have to go with my gut instinct that indie is right for me. And I’m damn excited about it.

39 thoughts on “Why I’m Choosing Indie Publishing

  1. taureanw says:

    Good luck! I’m planning on going down that same route once I have something I believe is worth publishing. With the advent of e-books this is a very viable route & can be successful if you have a quality novel.

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you and to you too! My thought is that with ebooks, it’s easily accessible to anyone who wants to read and publish. We’re all in this together, after all. Let’s get excited!

  2. Aaron Pogue (@AaronPogue) says:

    Sounds like you’ve made the right choice. I’ve spent a lot of time researching all this, and the only really compelling reason to go with traditional publishers is if you want that validation. That was the dream for a long time, so I can’t really judge anyone for wanting it.

    But the way you’ve described your situation, you’re heading exactly the right direction. I love that you’re watching other indie writers so closely, too. That will get you most of the way all by itself.

    Good luck!

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you! It’s really helpful to be a part of a community that’s so welcome and willing to answer your questions. It’s really a learning process, even when you do have help (I already know things I’ll fix next time around). There shouldn’t be this wall between indie and traditional publishing-I understand the why, but I think it’s more important for us all to work together to bring great stories to readers. Period. (I ain’t in it for the money!) ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you again!

  3. Thomas Rydder says:

    GREAT advice…and let me say I’m relieved, because your conclusions are some of the same ones I’ve come up with. I’m just getting started, have just finished my first novel, but I’m already tired of waiting on publishers. I’m going the indie route, and don’t have a second thought about it. Control IS the name of the game, and if we write it, why shouldn’t we have the say so? Good luck with your writing, and thanks for the encouragement.
    Tom Schrecengost
    (writing as Thomas Rydder)

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you! I’m so glad to help someone out. Good luck with your journey. It’s definitely a learning process–and maybe it’ll wear off the second or third time around, but for the first time anyways, it’s pretty interesting to go through all the steps and learn it!

      • Thomas Rydder says:

        To be frank, it was (and is) a little overwhelming to discover how much needs to be done in order to make and market a product. But I’m getting there. I had decided to publish through Smashwords. They seem to have everything I need, and Mark Coker even furnishes a list of folks who do cover images and convert your manuscript for reasonable rates. Any thoughts on Smashwords?

      • LizLong says:

        I swear I thought writing the book would be the hard part, but turns out, it’s putting the damn thing out in the world! I’m using SW to get my book out to non-Kindle users and it’s been totally fine so far. I paid for my own ebook formatter (not one they recommended, actually) and did my own cover, so I’m not sure about those specific points. I will say they take a lot longer than I’d like to approve manuscripts, but that’s the only downside I’ve seen so far (though I was warned of piracy, so keep an eye out when researching it).

      • Thomas Rydder says:

        I’m no graphic artist, so I’ll be writing a check for that, but I’ve found quite a few reasonable ones who offer a fair number of edits. And I”ll keep an eye out for the piracy, thanks. When you said you do SW for all non-Kindle…I thought you could do Kindle format through them. No?

      • LizLong says:

        Nope. Amazon is an entirely different beast. SW uploads to B&N, Apple, Sony, and maybe 1 or 2 other places. But Amazon is its own deal with its own upload, which is why you need to watch your ISBNs and formats when uploading to each site.

      • LizLong says:

        It’s totally ok-I was there just a couple weeks ago honestly. You have to simply go through it to learn, ya know? With Amazon you upload through their program–read their FAQs and formatting stuff to be 110% sure on how you’re doing. It’s pretty informative and tells how to save the file for correct look and all. I’d also recommend you check out my Indie Checklist post to help you get started.

      • Thomas Rydder says:

        Yeh, I’m actually there now…another pile of stuff to learn :). I need three of me to do all this. Be nice to just write and not have to worry about it…but then again, I guess I’d be doing the traditional then, huh…I’ll get it…I’m alot smarter than I look…
        So, I’ll do SW, Amazon, and I’m also looking at some discount sites where I can get it out there for free or 99 cents or so, and get much exposure at the same time.

      • LizLong says:

        I honestly believe if I can do it, so can you. I went from 0-60 in about a day. And be careful–it’ll consume every waking second at the moment you start! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. James T Kelly says:

    Great post! I think you’ve got some good reasons for self-publishing here and I’m counting the desire for instant results. Why should you have to wait a year or two to see your book in print when you can see it in thirty seconds? Patience may be a virtue, but that doesn’t mean impatience is a vice!

    Not that I’m using your post to validate my own impatience or anything…

    • LizLong says:

      Ha! I have plenty of my own impatience. It’s yet another reason indie won out for me. I really didn’t want to sit around waiting–granted, I would’ve been writing too, but what if I spend all my time on it just to be rejected over and over? I’ve already got fans of the book wanting a second one and who knows how long it would’ve taken that to happen with trad. publishing. To each his own and have no shame in indie pub. Good luck!

  5. Dan Meadows says:

    I’ve reached the same conclusions. For years, I went through the seemingly endless, soul-crushing cycle of submission/rejection of the traditional world. Eventually, I got fed up and started working for magazines, going from assistant editor to managing editor to publisher, picking up skills all along, from design to marketing and distribution on top of editor and writer. I have a lot of fiction material from years and years of writing, and I decided last fall to go all-out Indie. Since then, I’ve been polishing and publishing to build up a base catalog of available work, from individual short stories to collections and am topping it off with my first full-fledged novel I’ll be releasing in a few months, hopefully. I’ve been woefully lacking in the marketing department so far, but that’s been sort of by design. I just felt that a strong marketing push would be better served when I have a variety of material available. I’ve given myself a year to build my catalog, and once that part is done, I’m planning to seriously ramp up marketing, and have a next stage of brand new material in the works to feed off of that.

    I haven’t even considered the traditional avenues for quite a while now. I don’t like the contract terms, lack of control, giving up wide swaths of my rights virtually in perpetuity for low royalties. The only possible advantage I see with traditional is access to the physical print ecosystem, but as trends continue, I’m not convinced they’ll maintain that strength much longer. Ebooks and better, cheaper print on demand tech really looks as though it’s going to pull the rug out from under the traditional bookstore model sooner than later. If I were to sign a traditional deal today, it would still likely be 18 months or so, minimum, to see a book get to market. With publishers losing ground as they already are, who can say what kind of shape they’ll be in at that point? The last thing I want is to get locked in to a system that may or may not even be relevant in two years. Maybe it’s my years spent working at a successful level in publishing, but I am not intimidated in the least by the notion of taking on the mantle of publisher and totally controlling my own career possibilities. It’s not easy by any stretch, it’s a lot of long hours and hard work, but it’s not exactly quantum physics either. And it’s certainly not the gilded, we-know-best, you can’t possibly do it better than us propaganda that comes from the traditional world.

    So, when faced with the choice of wasting more time throwing queries against the traditional wall to see if anything sticks or focusing on building my own little publishing enterprise, it really was a no brainer. Especially when it looks more and more like all the upside is on the indie model and the traditional model appears to be in clear decline. Best of luck to you.

    • LizLong says:

      You’ve made so many good points here I don’t know where to start. These are all relatively similar things I’ve been reading, especially in regards to e-books and print-to-order books. And like you said, if my book won’t be out for another 18 months, who knows what could happen between then and now? Even if I were still on the fence, I’d read comments like yours and know it would steer me back to the indie road. If responsible indie authors want to put themselves out there in a smart way, I think in this day and age, it’s not fighting against traditional publishing so much as making our own paths to personal success. If I were looking to become a bestseller, maybe I’d do some more queries. But I’m not, so I won’t. I want to put my story out there and let people enjoy it and I want to do it when I want. I love the control indie publishing gives us. Thank you for taking your time to give me so many more reasons to support the indie decision. Best of luck to you as well!

  6. H kowalenko says:

    My son just published his first book thru iuniverse and it was a great experience for him. No negatives and a well done book. He is currently working on second book with no worries or stress. Great way to publish.

  7. Bridget McKenna says:

    Thanks for a lovely and well-thought-out article, and success in your publishing career. It’s hard work, but having done it both ways I can attest the satisfactions that come from seeing a work through to publication as an indie author/publisher are perhaps even sweeter than those that come from a “book deal.” And your writing and publishing future will be in your own hands, which is perhaps the best satisfaction of all.

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you for the comment! I absolutely agree that there’s huge satisfaction when your hard work pays off, especially in such great ways in this day and age. Plus, the self-publishing community is – as attested by this one blog post, really – an amazing group of hardworking, talented people!

  8. PA Wilson says:

    Sometimes all it takes is a leap of faith in yourself. Welcome to the exciting world of indie publishing. You’ll find a lot of support out here and you’ll get to learn from other’s mistakes and make your own – you’ll survive.

    Good luck

  9. Tonya Kappes says:

    Very cool, Liz! I made that decision over a year ago and haven’t looked back. It’s been the greatest choice in my career. Being self published doesn’t mean that you can’t fulfill your dreams that traditional publishing can give you. I still do book signings, my books can be found on the selves of Barnes and Noble, I sold my translation rights, I’m an Amazon Mover and Shaker (twice), I’ve won awards such as eFestival of Words AND The Next Generation Indie Awards, not to mention I have an amazing STREET TEAM of over 350 avid readers, plus I make more money in one month that I can quit my day job as a child therapist…..not that I’m bragging, I just want you to see that you CAN have a very successful career as a self published writer! I’m proof of the success!

    • LizLong says:

      YES!! Oh gosh I love everything about this comment. Congratulations on all your hard work – it must be such a great feeling having such success come out of it! Thank you for visiting and for showing how awesome self-publishing can be for those who want it badly enough!!

  10. Mary Maddox (@Dreambeast7) says:

    I’ve had two established agents, both found not through queries but thanks to personal connections. Both were decent people, but the process left me frustrated and disillusioned. So I finally went Indie. It’s not easy, but at least the fate of my work isn’t entirely in the hands of others.

    • LizLong says:

      While I’m sorry for your frustration with the situations, I’m glad you felt confident enough to take charge and go indie. I hope it’s working out for you! Thank you for stopping by and best of luck to this big adventure of self publishing!

  11. Spike Pedersen says:

    Well welcome to the crazy train. I did what you did, and now my book is indy published, and best of all, I still own it. It’s a fun and hard ride, but I’m still smiling. I have some advise on my blog, spikepedersen.com if you need a trail of crumbs to follow.
    Way to go!

  12. Traci Loudin (@TraciLoudin) says:

    Thanks for sharing your reasons for the decision. I’m only a few months (okay, maybe a year) from having to make the decision myself, and I’ve read so many things that’ve made me vacillate between traditional vs. indie publishing. I think I may actually try a different tack with each of the two books I’m working on right now… one of them seems like it may be more appealing to big publishers. The other has shapeshifters and whatnot, which I think is ‘out’ as far as the big players are concerned. But I want to let the readers vote on that. ๐Ÿ™‚ So probably self-pub the shapeshifter one, and at least try the submit/rejection cycle on the other and see if I get any bites. That’s my plan for now. A lot can change in a year… Will definitely be stopping back to hear of your success in self-pubbing. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • LizLong says:

      Thank you for this so much! I myself have considered the option to save a piece for traditional submission and see what happens. It’s not something I’m against at all; I just think I sort of get the market.
      I also wrote this post about why I chose indie – I feel is a stronger message than this particular post. http://www.indieauthornews.com/2012/06/why-i-chose-indie-publishing.html?spref=tw
      Thanks for visiting and best of luck to you. Keep in touch – shout at me on Twitter if you haven’t already! Would love to read an interesting shapeshifter story!

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