Why I Chose to Be an Indie Author
There is an ongoing traditional vs. self-publishing debate, each side with its share of pros and cons. For me, it was a simple choice. I wanted to be an indie author even before starting the first draft of my debut novel. Not because I have something against traditional publishing (I know the industry well enough since I’ve been coordinating a literary translations department for 12 years), but simply because it’s not really what I wish for my current (and future) books.
The main reason I chose self-publishing was because I wanted to have full ownership and control over my entire project, from start to finish. I wanted to have a say in my cover, the edits/feedback I decide to implement, and everything else. With traditional publishing, the author’s freedom is pretty much limited. I’m a very independent person when it comes to my work, so this kind of collaboration would have been doomed from the start.
The second reason, which is somehow related to the first, is the publishing schedule. With traditional publishing, sometimes, new authors have to wait for years (a realistic expectation) before being published (without counting the long query time and countless rejections). I want to be able to decide when to publish my books, and how to approach my target audience.
Marketing is important, and new authors are not exactly the favorite persons of the publishing houses’ marketing department. It is understandable that they want to invest in names who would bring them a higher return on investment. But I don’t want to be at the bottom of any publishing house’s priority list, so I am more than happy to go through this entire process by myself, although it means a lot of trial and error.
Being an indie author is by no means an easy path. On the contrary. If you want to do it right, you need to be prepared for a lot of work and sweat. And patience. The reason I have chosen to self-publish is not because I’m afraid of rejections or because self-publishing is piece of cake. Self-publishing doesn’t mean writing a story in Microsoft Word, turning it into an ebook in a few seconds in Kindle Create, make a cover in Paint, then upload everything on Amazon (unfortunately, I saw a lot of materials that promoted self-publishing as something easy and doable in a very short time – which is not). In the past, there was a stigma that deemed self-publishing to be unprofessional, which is far from the truth if you look in the right direction. Fortunately, things have changed a lot; the industry is acknowledged and it’s growing fast.
Self-publishing involves a great deal of work, and also money. Theoretically, yes, it can be done for free. But don’t expect great results if you choose the 100% free path. There are a lot of tools and services out there that are absolutely worth. From my own experience, everything I invested in paid off. A Masterclass subscription (which I absolutely love) because I wanted to watch the masterclasses of Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman; an AutoCrit subscription (I was lucky enough to be able to purchase a lifetime membership); a ProWritingAid subscription; a membership in the Alliance of Independent Authors (which, in my opinion, every indie author should have – it offers a lot of resources for indies); buying Vellum and Scrivener – to list just a few. Continuous learning is not only great. It is necessary. The great thing is that there are plenty of resources (and influencers) for indie authors, but that will be the topic of a different post.
Of course, there is also the issue of royalties. There is no secret that authors receive a higher percentage out of self-publishing. However, an indie author needs to struggle much more on their own to be able to reach a number of readers that would really make a difference when it comes to royalties.
What I’ve discovered along the way is that self-publishing is much more than writing and uploading a file. I’m learning a lot, but I’m also making mistakes (I have yet to find my preferred social media). But the process is incredibly fun and rewarding. In our fast-paced interconnected world, the need for that umbrella of authority provided by traditional publishing is starting to lose ground. After all, why wait for months, even years, to get an agent, then a deal, when you can be your own publisher?