Therese here to introduce you to Erika Liodice’s new column, The Indie Way! Through this column, Erika will provide us all with facts and opinions from the perspective of the independent author. I couldn’t be happier to see this roll out here on WU, and I look forward to learning right along with all of you. Thank you, Erika!
Do you know what today is? It’s the first annual Indie Author Day (#AuthorDay16). To celebrate, nearly 300 libraries across the U.S. and Canada are coming together to educate writers about independent (a.k.a. “indie”) publishing and introduce readers to the indie voices in their communities. As an indie author myself, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to talk about what it means to be an indie and clear up some misconceptions.
Myth: Independent publishing is a last resort for writers who have been rejected by traditional publishing.
Fact: Many indie authors intentionally skip the “traditional” route altogether. They do so for a variety of reasons, some of which include:
- Autonomy. Indie authors love having the freedom to write what they want, when they want.
- Creative control. They want to have the final say in how their stories are told, what the book cover looks like, how it’s priced, when its released, how it’s promoted—and every other aspect of their book’s journey into the world.
- Speed to market. Indie authors value the ability to bring their books to market in a matter of days or weeks, rather than months or years. This agility not only enables them to reach readers faster and begin generating income sooner, it allows them to capitalize on time-sensitive opportunities, such as books about hot topic issues.
- Ownership. Indies see the rights to their work as valuable assets that they can turn into products–such as ebooks, audiobooks, foreign language books, and more–in order to sell into different channels and markets and ultimately reach more readers.
- Smarter compensation. While most indies write for the love of it, they also want to be compensated fairly. They appreciate the favorable royalty splits, easy-to-understand royalty statements, and timely payments offered by independent publishing platforms. And since they never have to worry about their books going out of print, they enjoy the ongoing source of passive income that supports their ultimate mission: to write more books.
Most indie authors know that readers don’t shop by publisher but rather by topic, genre, or author name, so they choose to focus their time and energy on producing great books that readers will love rather than chasing a book deal. (For more reasons why writers go indie, check out #PoweredByIndie.)
Myth: Self-publishing and independent publishing are the same thing.
Fact: While many people use the terms interchangeably, there’s actually a big difference between the two. Self-publishing is generally embraced by writers who view their publishing pursuits as more of a hobby than a career. They might be interested in creating a book that is important to them but has little commercial appeal, such as a family history or a memoir. Or they may be “starting small” in order to test the waters before committing to publishing on a bigger scale.
Independent publishing, on the other hand, is embraced by writers who view themselves as author entrepreneurs. They treat publishing as a business. Many establish their own imprint and run it like a mini publishing house, buying their own ISBNs and hiring freelancers to help them produce professional products. They develop marketing plans to launch and promote their titles. They attend industry conferences, book fairs, and educational workshops to build their networks, identify business opportunities, and continue improving their skills. They may even eventually decide to publish other authors. For the indie author, publishing isn’t a hobby; it’s a career.