Monday, January 24, 2011

Why being indie is exciting

After getting a couple of comments on my previous post, I should probably say that I'm proud to be an indie author. It was a choice I made. If I didn't want to be an indie author I would still be writing and preparing to submit to agents. But I looked at the evidence out there, looked at my style of writing, and made this choice. I'm not ashamed to be going indie.

I wrote a long bit here about being indie that sounded very familiar. Got a few paragraphs in then realized I'd written it before. Decided I didn't want to bore anyone who'd already read that. If you haven't, read the older post here. We'll wait.

So now you know some reasons, but there are others. Here's one. I don't write at a length that's typically published by traditional houses. The longer I've been at this writing thing the more I've realized that the length I am the most comfortable with is something in the 25,000 to 30,000 word range. That length is typically considered a novella. That length is also something that's tough to get published. It would be about 80 or so published pages if done in book form. Not many publishing houses want that. The cutoff for them seems to be about 50,000 words, and even that's a little short.

Is a novella unpublishable? Of course not. Plenty get published. But how many of those are written by unknowns? Very few, I'd reckon. So my chances of getting the work I think I'm best at published by a traditional publisher seem pretty slim. But now, with ereaders and ebooks and self publishing, I have a way to get those stories in the hands of readers who might like them.

And that leads to another reason that being indie is exciting. Turn around time. Reasonably, with traditionally published books there is an 18-month lag from the book being purchased by a publisher to the book hitting the shelves. That's a killer. I have some big plans for the world I've created in Consider Us Even and Chasing Filthy Lucre. Plans that involve lots of stories set in that universe. Assuming I'm successful, an 18 month wait by readers between books would stifle any momentum. Eighteen months is plenty of time to forget all about that great book you read. Plenty of time to forget about the next book that's supposed to come out.

But going indie, I can control the date of the release of the books. How fast can I write, edit, and format? That's all that's keeping me from uploading something new. I'm in control.

Being indie also allows me to keep control over my stories and the direction of my series. I'm not one of those who thinks I know better than someone in the publishing industry. But I do know that I have a vision for how this series plays out. Going indie means I get to keep control of that, and that's something that's important to me. I'm weird like that.

The final thing that excites me about going indie -- well final thing for now, I'm sure I'll think of others -- is pricing. With the royalties that the book sellers are offering to authors who publish directly through them, it only takes a modest amount of success to make as much money as an indie author as you can on an average advance from a traditional publisher. So the argument that you can't make money going on your own is starting to be disproven. There are the wildly successful indie folks, like Joe Konrath and Karen McQuestion and Amanda Hocking. But under that level there are many, many indie authors who are having great success. Making money as authors. Doing what they love.

So, despite what my last post may have led some readers to believe, I like being an indie author. The good outweighs the bad. But I'd be lying if I said I didn't have concerns. I think there are several indie authors who can hold their own with the big boys, I just don't want their indie author friends to be the only ones who know that. I want them to break out of that label and just be an author.


  1. This is exactly why you should be an indie author: your word count.

    Stories with that word count are great. They're a quick read for people who live busy lives. Also, you can put two or three of them into one book later on having 75,000 word count or more.

    I write short stories from 3,000 to 8,000 word counts and novels. My shortest novel is 63,000 area and my longest is 80,000. I have two more novels done and uploading in the next two months along with four more short stories at least.

    That's why I love being an indie too.

    But I am an author first.

    Great post!


  2. Thanks, Daryl.

    I know that the indie path is a good one for me. Far more positives than negatives. I like what I'm doing and feel more productive than I ever did before. It does wonders for my motivation to know that I am writing something that will see the light of day and not just die in a drawer.