Why Indie Publishing?

A question I get asked a lot is, why I choose to indie publish despite having written for traditional publishers.

There’s nothing wrong with traditional publishing. In fact, there are many awesome perks.

  • Publisher pays for cover art
  • Publisher pays for editing
  • Publisher sometimes pays your registration to cool events (I got to go to BEA last year!)
  • Shelf space in bookstores (though not always a guarantee)
  • Legitimacy

I may traditional publish again. But right now, I’m enjoying being the captain of my ship.

Writing for a publishing house often feels like I’m writing solely for my editor instead of for my readers. Editors and readers are concerned with totally different things.

Readers care about:

  • Is the story is good
  • Would I buy another book by this author

Editors care about:

  • Is the story good
  • Can the story be marketed
  • Who can the story be marketed to
  • Can the story earn enough money to make the investment in the author worth while
  • Does the author already have a readership

I could go on.

Writing a good story isn’t always enough. For me, I got tired of submitting my story to editors and hearing back how much they enjoyed the book, the characters, the plot, but didn’t think they could sell speculative fiction with a Black heroine. I heard that A LOT. And it’s very frustrating to put months into a book, have people think you’ve told a good story, but to still have it rejected by publishers because the race of your lead character isn’t “right.”

I don’t think publishers/editors realize ethnic women read genres other than romance. There’s a lot of multi-cultural, speculative fiction out there, but it’s hard to find. When I discovered Tananarive Due and how easy her books are to get, I was so excited! And I spread the word! You don’t have to be Black to enjoy her books, you just have to enjoy a good book. She tells a scary story like nobody else!

So, by publishing my books myself, I never have to be told again how enjoyable my stories are, but the race of my lead character is wrong. I don’t worry about that. I get to focus on the story now.

Things I’ve learned since I began indie publishing:

  • It’s hard work! I’m doing (and paying) for everything myself now
  • Romance (especially erotic romance) is easier to sell. I think this is because I previously established myself as an erotic romance author. Now I have to find a whole new market for my paranormal mysteries
  • People who read erotic romance don’t necessarily read paranormal mysteries
  • Don’t scrimp on the cover art. A great cover artist is worth her weight in gold
  • Editing matters. Unedited books make you loom amateurish. Although, there will always be that reader on Amazon who claims the book was poorly edited. This has happened with my traditionally published books, too
  • It’s not LIKE running a small business, it IS running a small business, and you have to treat it as such
  • It’s so much fun!!!!

There are lots of great resources out there if you’re thinking of indie publishing. Some of my favorites are:

Write. Publish. Repeat by Sean Platt, Johnny B Truant, and David Wright

How to Market a Book, by Joanna Penn 

Joanna Penn’s website, The Creative Penn

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