A Writer’s Guide to Publishing…Indie Vs Traditional
Posted On March 30, 2019
Note: I am on a big learning curve here. The advice within this article will likely be updated as my knowledge and wisdom increases.
Having started my indie publishing career back in 2012 and dropping it shortly after in 2013, my two non-fiction books sat collecting dust on the proverbial Amazon shelves.
That is, until I launched back into what I do best and embraced this career again with my debut romantic suspense novel, ‘Love Me, Crazy’ released in late December 2018. And then launched my chick lit romance, ‘Love Me, Sweetie,’ in February 2019.
Now, I have just completed the first draft of the third book, another romantic suspense ‘Love Me, Dreamy,’ and between frantically typing, researching and many dog walks. I have been learning about the publishing game. And my friends, it is indeed a game.
So, I am going to share what I have learned, in this blog. Because one) I’m an over-sharer and don’t know how to keep knowledge and ideas to myself and two) I love reading the journey of other authors to the elusive title: Bestseller.
Today’s post, I’m going to talk to you about Indie publishing verses Traditional publishing.
What Is Indie-Publishing?
Authors who are indie, are simply writers who take on the sole responsibility of the entire publishing process. Including, but not limited to; writing, editing, proofing, blurb-writing, cover design and promoting of their work.
That is not to say, that it is a one-man-band and the writer does all of those things. A good indie author knows that it takes a village to raise a novel. However, more on that later.
What Is Traditional-Publishing?
Traditional Publishing is when a publishing company commission an author to write a book for them. They usually have in-house editors, proof-readers, cover designers and a marketing team. They typically offer an advance for the book, then pay the author royalties, (Typically, 8% for the first 150,000 copies sold and rising to 10% thereafter.)
Bonus Options: Vanity Publishing (Indie)
Vanity publishing is when an author commissions a publishing company to produce their book and promote it using their channels. This is for authors who want to focus solely on writing their book and having professionals take over the rest to produce their book.
Bonus Options: Hybrid-Publishing (Traditional)
In recent years, a new form of contracts has been adopted by traditional publishers. That is, a partnership-contract whereby authors shoulder the production costs, in exchange for a higher royalty rate (Usually 20%) and the publishers work to promote the book, by arranging book signings, getting your novel into libraries and have press releases.
NOTE: Due to the stigma attached to Vanity publishing, a lot of vanity publishers have been adopting the term Hybrid, when they are in fact, nothing more than a vanity publisher. It is important to have a thorough read through any contracts, specifically who owns the rights, their policy on any future works and the exclusivity.
What your friends will tell you…
Interestingly, I found that when I announced that I had independently published my novel, that Facebook post garnered less than 20 likes and few comments.
Recently, I was able to announce that I had been offered a publishing contract, that post received more than 100 likes and 67 comments.
Now, that experiment cannot be analysed solely on the results, because I have been sharing my publishing journey and building my reader base over the last few months, so it’s quite possible, that more people have seen the post and been happy for me and my ‘success.’ However, it does generally seem to be that people are more supportive when an author goes down the traditional route.
In fact, there are people who look down on me for publishing independently. But that’s ok, I’m used to it by now as I come from a Network Marketing background. People think that going indie is somehow inferior to securing a traditional contract. Even though, the money is rarely better.
But if they knew the ins and outs, what it really means when you go through a publisher, would they still think you were being wise? I have indie author friends who earn a living off their books, earning 70% royalties on their ebook sales…and some are earning over $100,000 a year. And that’s just the small pool of my new friends in the indie world. If you search through the writer’s groups, you will see that many, many authors are earning big bucks going indie.
Thanks, but no thanks.
So, I was sat looking at this contract from a publisher in London. The thrill of having someone say that my book, ‘Love Me, Sweetie,’ is worthy of their branding did have me buzzing for a little while. However, seeing the terms of the contract and after taking advice from my author friends (Some of whom are published traditionally and indie) I came to the conclusion that traditional publishing just isn’t for me. Here’s my list of reasons why I said, thanks but no thanks:
- I want to maintain full control over my books. Their covers, presentation, the way they are promoted and their content is really important to me. An ‘expert’ in the industry suggested that my ‘clean’ romance needed to have sex scenes included and a scandalous storyline added in to make the book have more appeal to the mass market. If I had signed a contract, I would have less say over the contents of the book.
- Moola. I want to make this a career. And unless I get picked up by one of the big six publishers, I am unlikely to make a huge amount of money from my books.
- I want the freedom to write what I want. If I want to change genre, I want to be able to do that without being shoe-horned into one area.
I feel like I need to learn a lot more about what it really means to sign over your book(s) to a publisher and working for (with) them before I can sign on that dotted line.
The main point to make, is whether you are indepentantly published or traditional, you will need to market and promote yourself and your books. You can’t sit back, relax and let the publishers do all the work.
The publisher who wanted to sign me up, were mostly offering marketing and help with distribution. That’s my area of expertise, having a strong background in sales and social media.
So, thanks but no thanks. I’m happy to remain indie for now.