There comes a point in an author’s life where they have to make a decision. It’s a decision that we barely had five years ago, and ten years ago didn’t exist at all. But, just as iTunes and Spotify changed the music industry, the likes of Kindle and Kobo have changed the publishing industry forever.
Self publishing (sometimes called indie publishing, although some people insist they’re different things) cuts out the agent and the publisher. Most of the profits go to the author. With the case of Kindle, that’s 35% (if you charge less than £1.99), or 70% (if you charge more than that). The rest goes to Amazon.
When you compare that to how much authors get from traditional publishing—an advance of a few thousand, and royalty payments of as little as 7.5%—self publishing is tempting.
But is it worth it?
How big is your audience?
Most agents and publishers—particularly the bigger ones—won’t even consider you unless you already have a social media following of a few thousand. This shows them that you already have a fan base that will buy the book, and there’s already a market out there for you and your book(s).
However, some people suggest that social media followings seldom translate into book sales. The jury appears to be split.
Going indie offers more creative freedom
I chose self publishing because my first book, What Happens in New York, has lots of spin offs, lots of characters, and a bit of poetry. It’s too much of a risk for an agent or publisher to take on for an author with such a small following. It just wouldn’t be worth it for them.
Not only that, but I like the creative freedom it offers. I work to my own deadlines, and anything that does (or doesn’t) work is because of a decision I’ve made. I wrote, edited (with the help of some members from Nottingham Writers’ Studio), proofread, formatted, and marketed What Happens in New York. It was a long and stressful process, but it taught me more than four years at university and sixteen years at school ever did.
Doing it yourself means there’s more to learn
Self publishing taught me that I can achieve whatever I want if I put my mind to it. And wow, did I put my mind to it. I chased after it like a cheetah after its prey, and I didn’t stop until I caught it.
I made mistakes along the way—I’m not perfect—but I’m treating those mistakes as lessons for future books. I also discuss my mistakes on my blog so that other authors (however they’re published), can learn from them.
Which path is right for you?
Choosing between self/indie publishing and traditional publishing is a deeply personal choice. It’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Both paths can be expensive and require lots of hard work on the author’s part.
The option you choose will have a drastic affect on the finished product. Self/indie published books can be released quicker, while traditionally published books have to adhere to a schedule chosen by the publisher, which you have no control over. You also probably won’t have a say over things like the cover despite.
However, both options give you the chance to share your work with a wider audience, and at the end of the day, that’s what’s most important.
Over to You
Which path have you chosen (or will you choose)? Why? I’d love to hear your stories!