Most people relax and go to the beach when they're on a tropical island. Apparently, I just have deep thoughts, such as the state of the great indie / self-publishing movement. Are self-published authors also independent publishers going it alone, with every intention of continuing that way? Or, are we putting our books on Amazon, while awaiting the “real” deal?
Are self-published authors honest with ourselves about what we really mean by going indie?
Someone once asked in Kindleboards whether authors there thought of themselves as indies for life. I do. My books will never have mainstream / commercial mass appeal, because they're foremost about people and periods which I find interesting. In six years, I've worked with two agents. Yes, that's past tense. My last "break-up" wasn't the most amicable, in part because my agent felt I wasn't patient enough. As of last month, she still wishes I would just stop all this “self-publishing nonsense” - her words, not mine. Right now, I’m not looking for an agent or publisher. That's my plain and simple truth. What happens tomorrow is anyone’s guess.
Each time another “indie” signs with a traditional house, I wonder, what motivated the decision? No, it's not just about dollar signs. The two-million dollar check doesn't go out the day after the deal. Is it the potential for increased exposure? Some of the recent signings are for authors I’ve never heard of – hard to believe in our little microcosm of writers, isn’t it? Does the cachet that supposedly comes from traditional publishing affect the indie author’s choice? Maybe. Are there people for whom the publisher’s name, not the author’s own, still matters? Sure. Judging by some of the best-selling indies, some readers don’t care.
As an aside, in my 13-month stint as a self-published author, only a former member of a critique group has ever asked about my publisher. When I answered, I should have also mentioned I was Hitler and Satan's misbegotten hellspawn, for the look she gave me. Still cracks up when I remember it. Anyway, I'm more likely to get questions about the cover art on my books.
What does an indie's crossover to traditional mean for authors who choose to remain indie, or see a new future in self-publishing? Some have passed on deals most would kill for, but they seem to be writers in two categories: (1) indies who make a boatload of money on their own and don't need a publisher's "help" or (2) established, traditional writers with a backlist, who've figured out they can control their sales 100%. A no-brainer, but it doesn't mean we'll all have that choice.
There's only one real reason for me to surrender my indie-for-life card: marketing. Did I mention I LOATHE marketing AND would rather endure a root-scaling at the dentist EVERY DAY for the rest of my life(!), than spend time marketing my own work? Ok, now I've told you. If a publisher took me on and would actually market my work (I’ve heard this still happens with newbies, sometimes), I’d sign the deal. I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't. Maybe.
I’d love to hear your opinion. In particular, what does the “indie” label mean to you?
P.S: M. Louisa Locke, best-selling, self-published author of Maids of Misfortune posted a FANTASTIC article on her blog this month, which sums up the current state for indies better than I ever could.
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