When I first started writing my view of indie publishing was the same as most: that it was filled with a bunch of desperate authors who just couldn't make it anywhere else.
I won’t lie, there are a few of those out there but once I started doing my research I found out that not only is the self-publishing community intelligent, hardworking and professional, they are also generous and supportive
That is why I wanted to talk to you about why I think buying independently published books is such a valuable thing before I get back to my regular blog schedule
1) It’s more affordable
I don’t say this to sound like I’m selling a bargain. They aren’t cheaper like brand name products at the grocery store. They are cheaper like fresh eggs from the farm next door.
These days, with more and more options becoming available to authors, this fact rarely affects the quality of the book. Professional editors, cover designers, and audiobook narrators are making themselves available to the community and healthy competition is pushing authors to make better and better products at cheaper prices. Because they don't have to split the money they make with the publisher, they can make more money on lower prices.
2) It Benefits authors and small businesses.
Yes, small businesses. I’m not just talking about small publishers, Indie authors are small business all to themselves. Many support their families off their writing. Some also employ assistants. That’s not even counting the multiple editors, cover designers, artists, lawyers and more Indie authors employ to help them produce their books.
Yes, some of that money will inevitably go to the sales platform, and that platform will PROBABLY be Amazon, but because indie authors are smart business people, self-motivated and supportive of other indies, they are also feeding back into new startups like Kobo and local bookstores, as well as donating their time and products to libraries, book fairs and more.
And as indies, authors make much more on their work than traditional authors. While the more popular traditionally published authors make decent money, they make less per sale than a self-published author. A midlist self-published author can easily survive on the income from their books, while traditionally published authors are finding it harder and harder to not only get into the business but to stay there. If an indie has a stinker, they can change their course and just keep going or even delist the book and rewrite it. Traditional publishers face the reality that they might never publish again. Even G.R.R. Martin, author of the Song of Ice and Fire series, talks about how publishers wouldn’t take a chance on his books after he had one failure.
3) Self-Published Books are Reader-Focused
Believe it or not, in the eyes of the traditional publishers, you...the reader...are not the target audience. Traditional publishers, especially the “Big Five” are selling their books to bookstores. Because of this, publishers are looking for BIG HIT books like Hunger Games and Twilight that will get big, fast and move a lot of copies. Often, if one of those is popular, they will pick up a million copycat books because the bookstores might be able to move those copies based on the popularity of the last ones.
In fact, this focus on the bookstore is such a problem that traditional publishers often price ebooks (books that require no money towards paper, ink, storage or shipping) higher than paperbacks. They kill their own online sales to encourage people to go into bookstores.
In contrast, the Indie Publisher sells right to the reader. Indie authors can take risks with genre mixing, new and crazy concepts and all lengths of books as long as the reader likes it. While industry standards and sales expectations rule the traditional agent and editor, Indie authors can get an email from their reader saying “I would love to see more in this world” and can just do it.
And because the reader cares more about a good story and great characters than popular opinion, each writer will be constantly pushed to produce better and better work or at least to tailor that work to their specific readership.
4) Author/Reader relationships
There is one final thing about Indie books that is amazing! When you contact an Indie author, they VALUE that contact. When you review their book, good or bad, they will love your honesty and feedback. Many Indie authors go to great lengths to make themselves available.
Not too long ago I reviewed some books by John L. Monk. He saw that I was a writer as well and sent me an email to encourage me and give me some resources and when my novella came out, he shared it on his social media.
Business guru and thriller-writer, Joanna Penn, makes it a point to reply to tweets and emails and often reads out some of them on her popular podcast. Author and writing-craft expert, K.M. Wieland responds to nearly every twitter post and often her FB posts as well. Youtube author sensation Jenna Moreci has a great rapport with her avid following. Author Sarah K.L. Wilson has gone from first-time author to Amazon best seller in the time I’ve known her and is still always available to answer questions, ask how I’m doing and help promote my work. In fact, she is participating in my book release this weekend and I am glad to consider her a friend.
I know multiple authors who have hit bestseller lists and still take the time to remember their followers by name, ask questions and form friendships. Authors give readers a chance to get free exclusive content, name characters in the book, beta read, and choose book covers. When you support an indie author, they will not easily forget how valuable your support is.
You may ask, “But what if the book is bad?”
I started reading many indie published books this past year, mostly in the same genre as me, and mostly first time or second-time authors. Sure, there have been a few stinkers. But if you go to a bookstore and pick up a book, there is still an equal chance that the book could be awful. The agent and editor picked up the book based on their personal taste and their idea of what is sellable, not based on your taste. (And they shouldn't be expected to)
When you buy an indie published book you have a wider variety of books to choose from and more say in what you like and what you don’t. It is just as hard to find authors you like in Indie Publishing as in Traditional, but a poorly written book at .99 cents is far better than a poorly written book at 20$, right? It's a risk either way, but trust me when I say that it's not as much of a risk as you think.
I’m not saying that traditionally published books are bad, or that you shouldn’t read or support them. I own plenty of traditionally published books and enjoy reading them. All I’m saying is that we indies work hard and love our readers and fellow writers. We are well worth taking a chance on. And if you want less of a risk, I'll be compiling a list of some of my favorite Indie Published books here soon. I hope you will check them out!