Sunday, March 11, 2012

I Need a Little Understanding...

Made some really good progress at the end of the week and now I'm about halfway through my story line edits of Zyander.  Hoping to make more headway this week and spend the week after finishing up his story.  Aeris is coming together, guys!
I just want to give a shout out to all the wonderful emails I've gotten from readers in the past couple of weeks.  They have made me push through the fatigue and crank this last part out!  It is so motivating to have people write you and tell you how excited they are to read the next book.  I don't want to disappoint, and I'm working hard to make this next book the best that it can be.  So thank you, all!

Now onto this week's topic.  I've been following the writing world through the great, which is probably one of the best websites out there for people who are interested in such things.  Granted, it slants heavily toward the indie side of things, but it's always informative.

Which brings me to my questions for some of the other ROW authors out there.  Several of you are going the traditional route: querying agents, trying to get published, etc.  I just wondered why.  Just... what is your reasoning?  Have you ever considered going indie?  Does indie seem like the lazy way?  Does it feel more legit, the idea that an agent and publishing house would want you?  Does it appeal more, letting someone else handle the cover, the editing, the proofing and formatting?  Do you think you'd get a better marketing package if you went through a traditional publisher?

I used to think about trying the traditional route.  Nothing sounded better... you get an advance (most times), they handle everything, and all you have to do is write.  What could be better than that?

Then I had a kid and bought a house, and didn't feel like trying to budget in the time and money to send out queries to everyone and their brother.  So yes, that is why I put my books out there without going that route.  But it's been a year now, and I've learned a lot about the indie process.  The more that I learn, the more motivated I am to keep doing it the way I have been.  Here are a few of the reasons why:
1) I get to set the price of my ebooks.  I can make them $9.99 or $.99 cents.  I can choose what promos to put in place, whether free or half off or whatever I feel like to promote what I have out there.  In traditional publishing, they pick the price and it's usually so high it pisses readers off (sometimes higher than the HARDBACK version).  
2) I get a royalty check every month.  I get an excel spreadsheet statement every month clearly outlining each book sold, for what price, what my royalty percentage is, etc.  In traditional publishing, you get paid every 6 mths and the documentation they send you is incomprehensible(or so I've read from the authors who've commented on it).
3) No one holds the rights to MY BOOK, but ME.  I don't have to fight to take my books off a website.  I don't have to go through painful court cases or hire lawyers or send  nasty letters trying to get my book rights back when a publisher fails me.  In traditional publishing, publishers hold onto those rights like toddlers with their favorite toys.  Dorchester, just last year, totally dropped the ball with their authors, pulling books, not paying authors, etc.  And yet SOMEHOW those authors couldn't seem to get their rights back.  Not only that, but now Dorchester is selling off those book rights to the highest bidder.  Even after all that EPIC FAIL.
4) I release my books when THEY ARE FINISHED.  I don't have to wait out a schedule.  I don't have to wonder why, when I'm already on the THIRD FREAKING BOOK, my first one still has yet to be released.  And don't tell me that it's because making a book look good takes a long time.  BULL.  I can name a dozen indie writers who have clean, edited books and manage to release them in a timely manner. In traditional publishing, publishers have a QUEUE, and where you are in the food chain directly relates to how your soon your book gets released.
5) I get to choose my own cover.  Granted, I have to find a good artist and PAY that artist.  I mean, I'm fortunate that my sister is so freaking talented and pretty much uses me as a portfolio builder.

But there are some great "pre-made" covers out there that don't cost a ton and look as professional as you'd ever need.  In traditional publishing, someone else chooses the cover and maybe you get to sign off on it, maybe you don't.  Maybe the publisher tries to rip off some other artist's cover, causing a scandal that surrounds your new and highly anticipated sequel.  Maybe they pick a cover that is so out of place as to be laughable.

And I know there are benefits to be traditionally published.  People take you seriously as a writer, for instance.  I can't tell you the times I've gotten "the look" from people who find out I'm an indie.  Or when someone says to me, "Wow, that seems so easy anyone can do it."  Or "My girlfriend/wife/brother has this great idea for a book, can you tell him how you do that indie thing?"
You get an advance, which is nice.  I get nothing upfront.  On the other hand, advances for newbies are small, and you get them in pieces, and a lot of times you have to "earn" certain amounts to get the rest of your money.  That is hard to do when your publisher pulls your book off B&N shelves after a short amount of time, or lists the ebook price so high that no one will try it out.  I was shocked, SHOCKED at how many of my favorite writers are part time.  I was SHOCKED that they didn't earn enough to quit their day jobs.  I always figured that after all the time and effort and rigmarole you go through to pass through those "gatekeepers" that the payout would be better.  I mean honestly, if I had to keep my day job, I would much rather be an indie, and get my 70% royalty.  I would rather keep the rights to my book.
According to several sources, advances for newbies are now between 5-10,000.  In chunk payments, remember.  I've almost made that much.  Granted it wasn't up front, but that's still pretty good.  The more books I add, the better that will be.  Business wise, it makes so much more sense to me to put my books out there, let my readers decide if they like me, and let the publishers come to ME, if they so desire.  And if they don't... well, I'll be here, writing my next book.

So yeah... am I an idiot?  Am I looking at this all wrong?  Tell me!
Happy Reading!


Vicki Keire said...

Go Kate! I haven't seen the reasons for going Indie and staying that way laid out so well in quite a while. I find it refreshing and validating.
I did decide to launch a series with a small Indie press and am glad I did- the experience has been a lot different than the Indie books I have out there on my own. Things I like include the close relationship I have with my publishers and editor, and the way they've helped me develop as a writer. They also have resources I just don't, and a greater marketing reach. But I didn't have to give up nearly as huge a bite of the pie as do writers with the Big 6. Also, I didn't have to query- they came to me. You know what's funny, though? My Indie books continue to do better commercially. Granted, the new series is, well, very new, so there's still time to see how well it will do compared to my Indie books. Overall, though, I'm glad I did it both ways, and can't wait to see how the differences play out in the long run.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

After 12 years of beating my head against the NY wall, I'm TOTALLY for the indie route! Among all the other advantages you listed, you can also publish books that the big pubs won't touch - because they have massive overhead and can only take on those that they think will make a big enough profit to cover it. Time travel that's 50/50 romance/SF, set in the Midwest US, isn't marketable enough for them. Being able to put it out there myself is soooo satisfying! I can sell a much smaller number and still make more money. And promo? Most new authors don't get diddly from their publishers for that. If I have to do it all myself, why not make all the money myself? :)

I have friends who are still bent on getting traditional deal. Some are afraid of indie because it's MORE work - which IMO, it IS, but it's work that gets you something, as opposed to queries that get a form letter or no response. Some want the prestige of a trad. deal. To each their own, I guess!

Kate said...

@Vicki: I have to admit, I find your dual nature in the publishing world to be fascinating. I'm keeping my eye on your progress, too. Simply because I consider you to be one of the more successful indies (based on reading your books. :))
@JMP- You don't mind if I call you that, do you? I agree, indie is a good way to go with all the stuff that doesn't fit the mold. Even one of my favorite traditional writers, Jennifer Crusie, said that she felt like writing indie stuff would save her creativity, because writing in the same old style and the same old characters was killing her over time.

Ali Dent said...

I can give you my answer about going the traditional route but it might not be very satisfying.

I have friends who self publish and they are doing a smashing job at it and making a good income. I'm not opposed to going that route but I am hesitant. I don't have confidence in the trickier areas, taxes, legal stuff, and such. It is possible to learn all these things and do it well, I know but if I can have an agent, I can spend time writing and marketing and leave the business side to her.

Again, I'm not an expert yet. I answered the question because you asked and I think you deserve answers. Love ya!

Suzanne Lilly said...

I'm with a small publisher, and I chose to go that route because I didn't want to deal with formatting, book covers, doing all my own marketing, promotions, etc. I was brand new and knew nothing about publishing, only about writing. Also, like Vicki mentioned, my publisher and editor are amazing. I've become part of a close group of writers within this house. Now, however, I'm thinking I might stick a toe in the self-pub pool, see how the water is in my corner for one book. I have a couple of friends who are doing quite well publishing themselves, and they've gotten the process down to a science. So more power to you, Kate. It's a big job, but it's the best way for some authors.

Kate said...

@Ali: No, I know just what you mean about some of that tax stuff! We have a tax guy and I just leave that sort of thing in his hands. Amazon and B&N both send you yearly statements, FYI.

Honestly, though, I do very little business type stuff. Except for the proofing, I don't find myself negotiating because you're right, I do everything myself.
Formatting used to take me FOREVER, but I've gotten better with practice. Thanks for your answer, it was very satisfactory. :)

@Suzanne: I hear you about not wanting to do the formatting, etc. This is one of the big reasons I see why people want to go with a publisher and honestly I don't blame them. It's a big deal! There are lots of ways to "try out" the indie way... you can do a small collection of short stories, like I've done. Thanks for your response!

Claudia Lefeve said...

For awhile I had dreams of going traditional, until I heard about indie authors. As soon as I realized I could do it on my own, I didn't think twice. For me, I enjoy doing things on my own and not answering to anyone. I love being able to have a say in every aspect of my books.

What I've learned is that it's certainly NOT the lazy way to do things. It takes a lot of work to go indie and for some (like me) it can be very gratifying. And for the things I don't care to do (i.e. formatting) I contract it out for a small amount.

Great post Kate! Sorry I posted late, but I was going over your beta feedback!! :)

Nadja Notariani said...

Great post, Kate. The responses have been informative, too.

As an Indie author, I know I made the right choice for me. I love the freedom/control I have. I am nervous about taxes next year - which is why I'm organizing my office! That orgainization will be my saving grace! Ha. Figuring out what will qualify as a business expense is my latest challenge. But once again, I'm learning by doing.

I've gotten the 'look' too, but I simply don't care. I'm building a name like other authors and making an income. It's wonderful, and I'm moving at my own pace.

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) said...

I'm sure there are good and bad things on both sides, and certainly only someone who knows how they both work can be the judge of that. I won't pretend to know, so all I can really say is: if it works for you, I'm glad! Fingers crossed for all your future releases. :)

There are many people with prejudice against the self-publishing industry, but lately, I find that some of my favorite books (Think Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park or The Academy by Zach Rawlins, or even Wander Dust), were self-published. So I judge on individual basis, just like everything else.

I just wrote a lot of words without actually saying anything useful, didn't I? :)

Kate said...

@Claudia: Yes, I like to do things on my own, as well. It IS one of the reasons why being an indie appeals to me, personally. Also, I agree, I work pretty darn hard at it. :)

Kate said...

@Nadja: LOL Good luck with your office organization. I have a bit of a problem with my office as it currently holds everything from burp rags to dirty diapers. hahaha In other words, I write in my living room. :)

Kate said...

@Maja: Yes, absolutely! I agree that no one who hasn't tried one or the other would know for sure. It was with that in mind that I asked for some feedback here. :) And thank you for your response.

I have been surprised by the quality of indies since I started reading them last year. I agree that they should be judged individually, like we do other books.

I've heard of Wander Dust. Good things. Have you read Angelfall by Susan Ee? If you like YA fiction, it is FANTASTIC! Also, RED by Kait Nolan and Vicki Keire's Gifts of the Blood are also EXCELLENT.