Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Indie Revolution

I LOVE books—the feel, the smell, the look of them. So when I put a Kindle on my Christmas list a few years ago, it surprised me as much as anyone. I’m not much of a gadgets guy (well, except for kitchen gadgets), so the desire to own this little electronic reader had to go back to Jean Luc Picard, Captain of the Enterprise. Well, and the memory of lugging two huge satchels of books away with me for the summer.

When I first saw Captain Picard’s electronic reader, this is well before Kindle, Nook, etc., I was impressed that a whole library could be on his hand-held device, and I knew that this was an invention from the future that could be mine. I knew someone would create it for me. And they did. And others did. And more others will take them to the next level.

But for me to publish an e-book instead of or before a printed book? Well, I just wasn’t so sure I wanted to do that. There IS something about holding your book in your hands. I needed to be won over. Talking with e-book authors and publishers has helped. 

I went the traditional route for my first two books (and their sequels). I am currently published (e-books and print books) with two small presses. I put up no money and get royalties. It is the wimp’s way out. No hassles for me, and I feel I am a “legitimate” author. I am not so sure, for me, that going indie will beat back my insecurities.

First, one has to get past the old vanity press notions that dog us. Sadly, indie e-books--rightly or wrongly--are linked to so many poor quality books that going indie still carries the taint of “you couldn’t make it traditionally.” 

Digital publishing makes it so much easier for authors to publish. Publishing your work can be accomplished through royalty-paying publishers who review your book.  It can also be done on your own through sites like Smashwords, Lulu, and Create Space.  There are both “supported publishing” sites and there are opportunities to do each book on your own.

When traditionally published, you get a royalty rate, pay no upfront money, and may see both e-book and print copies of your book. They pick the cover, they arrange the copyright (sometimes), and they provide editing services and will format your book for digital release.
When publishing on your own, you must do two things: pay to have your book professionally edited and pay to have an original cover designed. Both are critical to keeping up the quality of e-book and print books. Don’t rely on the stock covers various sites provide or you might be sharing a cover with another author’s book. 

Additionally, indie authors arrange for copyright and use provided templates to format your e-book or print book for publication. Still, after you pay the fees, you own your book with all rights and you get all the royalties after paying some site fees.

In both cases, as all authors have learned over the last few years, marketing is Job One for you. Publishers, digital or print, do little. So, some argue, why split your money with traditional publishers? Go Indie!

Since I have a couple of books I cannot find homes for with traditional publishers, I am trying to get brave enough to go Indie! But I still need some handholding.

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