Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Writing 101: Misunderstood

If you're a self-published author, it's because you failed in traditional markets. If you're an indie, it means you're struggling just to get your words read (because who really wants to read an indie?). If you're not a well-known author being published by one of the Big Six, you're just not worth reading. These are just some of the misconceptions that people have about indie authors...and I'm here to debunk all of them.

Never Less Than

It has come to my attention that some people think self-publishing is some sort of last resort for authors. After years of desperate struggle and rejection, they finally turn to self-publishing because this is the only way for them to be heard. And naturally, because they are amateurs, they flood the market with substandard material. 

To play Devil's advocate, this story probably rings true for some authors and some books that are currently available at But for a great many of the authors who go the indie route, it doesn't. I've found that many self-published authors are being plain misunderstood by readers, even by book bloggers. 

Self-published authors are not failed authors. They're not less than traditional authors. They're different, and there are several factors that make them different:

  • Independence: Let us never forget that "indie" stands for independent. Many authors are choosing to self-publish not because they have no other choice, but because independence is the best choice for them. As an indie author, you get control over issues like cover design, marketing and pricing -- all issues that traditional publishers like to decide for their authors.
  • Uniqueness: The huge success of books like Fifty Shades of Grey shows that self-published books aren't lower in quality or poorer in storytelling than traditionally-published books. In some cases, like Amanda Hocking, indies are writing subject matter that completely scares traditional publishers. They're so used to putting people in boxes they don't know what to do with an author who won't fit inside one. Such authors get rejected. Self-publishing gives these authors the opportunity to let that freak flag fly, and the numbers prove that plenty of readers just love it. 
  • Impatience: Traditional publishing takes a long, long time to come to fruition. After you write the book you have to pitch the book. After you finally sell the book you have to wait. It takes up to one year from date of acceptance for a publishing house to get a book on the shelves, both brick-and-mortar and virtual. If you don't feel like waiting for an entire freaking year to see your words in print, self-publishing is an excellent option. Authors who can publish quickly and get their work out there can start selling more quickly, can't they? 
  • Rights: Authors who self-publish maintain all of their rights to that work. When you publish traditionally, certain rights will be taken away from you. You may have little to no control over merchandise or adaptations of your work, for example, and when someone wants to adapt that work they will contact the publishers before they contact you. If you'd rather keep all your rights firmly in your grasp, self-publish.
  • Scheduling: Sign up with a traditional publisher, and you're also agreeing to certain promotional events that company books for you. Some authors dream of finding themselves on a nationwide book tour, but this lifestyle is not suited to everyone. There are many authors who would rather maintain control over their own time and their own schedule, and for them this makes self-publishing attractive. 

Honestly, I could keep going. Self-publishing isn't some sort of last hope or last resort, and it should not be viewed as such. Many authors take this road as a choice, not because they believe it is the only path left open to them. Indie authors are being misunderstood, but I hope I've set the record straight here today.

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