Saturday, October 15

To Indie Publish or Not to Indie Publish

Would he self-publish if he were alive today?
With apologies to Shakespeare, that is the question. I’ve talked in previous weeks about the series I’m working on called ‘Love in the North Woods’. The first book in the series is mostly done (still waiting for feedback from some of my beta readers), and the time to do something with it is fast approaching.

I’ve never done this before, but I’m seriously thinking about self-publishing this series.

Am I crazy? Quite possibly.

Here’s my thought process. If I publish these books myself, I get to control everything, from the cover art to the price. I get to keep something like 70% of revenues. Of course, that also means I’m responsible for everything – editing, cover art, formatting, marketing and on and on and on. And that scares me. The upfront costs will be steep.

My only foray into self-publishing happened this past year. I have the print rights for five books that I published with a small ebook publisher, so I decided to get my three book Left at the Altar series into print. I hired someone to format it, and I had the original cover art adjusted for print. But the books had already been professionally edited and the covers were in existence. With a new series, I’d be starting from scratch.

I wouldn’t have the backing of a publisher if I went out on my own. I haven’t exactly set the world on fire with my sales, so does it even make sense to self-publish?

So how about you, fellow Word Wranglers and faithful readers? Have any of you self-published? What was your experience? Or should I stick to my original plan to pitch my series at the Surrey International Writers Conference and go the traditional route? Readers, are you willing to take a chance on a self-published book?

6 comments:

  1. Definitely the tough question these days, isn't it?--and I think it has as many answers as there are people to answer it. In truth, I still prefer trad (or an offshoot of it, like our Holiday boxed sets), but if I were younger and/or more willing to navigate the learning curve of indie (and if I had a bigger fan base and more promotion skill) I might feel differently. Good post and good question, Jana.

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    1. A very tough question, Liz. I'm worried about the fan base and the promotion skills (or lack thereof) as well. But it's very tempting.

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  2. I read self-published books all the time. The main thing that deters me from reading specific self-published books is the quality. If you're putting out books that are professionally edited and have a professional-looking cover, and I can tell from the blurb and reviews that it is my kind of book, then I don't look to see who published it. There are a number of pitfalls, obviously, and it's important to invest time and money into doing it right. But independent authors have a lot of resources available, and it CAN be done, and done well. The biggest reason I purchase books based on the publisher (Harlequin Heartwarming) is because I only like wholesome, non-religious romances, and that line is the only one I can trust to deliver that. If I found well-written, properly-edited clean romances written by an indie author, I would happily read them. I wish books had ratings, so we could tell before we buy. As it is, it is up to the author to communicate to potential readers what they can expect from the book.

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    1. Thanks for weighing in, Heidi. I'm glad you have no problem with reading indie-published books as long as they interest you. You bring up something I haven't thought about enough; ensuring the reader gets the kind of book she's looking for. Some of my books/novellas are clean/sweet romances and some have more heat, though a reader might not know which is which from the blurb. Some retailers put a heat rating on their books. Maybe I need to do something like that on my website. I appreciate your input.

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  3. Jana, I am both traditionally and self pubbed and I'm currently trying to get a traditional pub to show some interest in my Women of Willow Bay books, which are self-pubbed right now. It's hard work to self-pub, but there are the perks you mentioned. My biggest issue is that I just don't have the ability to get my books into the hands of as many readers as I would if I were trad. I will tell you that Heidi is so right about the importance of getting your books professionally edited. It will pay you in the long with good reviews and no returns from readers who are frustrated with typos and punctuation errors. Good luck, whatever you decide!!

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    1. Yes, you're right that I would have to get my books professionally edited and get professional covers for them. I've read numerous times how important that is. I would not want to put out an inferior product, even though the upfront costs scare me. I'm still undecided. Like you said, getting books into the hands of readers is the important thing, and I don't know how confident I feel about my ability to do that. Next weekend I go to Surrey, and I'll pitch my series, and see what happens. Thanks for your advice, Nan.

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