Thursday, August 19, 2010

To Be An Indie - Blog Carnival

This post is for the Indie Author Blog Carnival run by Dun Scaith. Check out the host here and of course check out the other participants below my own post.

The subject for this particular blog carnival is basically why we chose to go down an Indie route.

Looking back, I feel like I fell into it but in reality, I put a lot of time and research into my decision.  I wasn't sure if it was possible, how it worked, if I could do it all alone.  I spent more than a few hours trying to figure it all out before I finally said feck it and jumped right in.

I've always written with the vague notion that some day I'd make a living doing it.  But I've never really done anything about it.  I haven't written query letters or sent manuscripts to agents and/or publishers.  I also didn't have a realistic idea of what it is like to be a traditionally published author. 

This year I basically decided I wanted to take creative writing seriously.  I have a few years of being at home left.  I now have five small children.  One is at school, one is in playschool and next year two more will be starting playschool leaving only one at home.  When last but definitely not least mini-Farrell goes to playschool, it'll be time for me to either go back to work or find a job I can do at home.  So this time period is my chance to prove to myself one way or another whether writing is right for me - as a source of income anyway.

So I had a time limit.  And the misfortune to write things that aren't particularly marketable.  At least by trad publishing standards.  I could tone things down and try to fit into one particular genre but I really can't face that.  I write dark fiction to take a break from the fluffier stuff.  I write tame y/a fiction to take a break from the morbid stuff.  I switch genres, I go into taboo areas and I never get bored.  I have fun.

I did quite a bit of research into publishing, ebooks, contracts, etc.  I discovered that most published writers don't live on their earnings.  Many books fail to earn out their royalties, many get remaindered or aren't marketed very well and the publishing industry seems to be in an awkward place.  If I went down that road, it would be highly unlikely my manuscript would be read.  If I was successful in signing a contract, it would take years for anything to happen and after that I'd pretty much be on my own.  I might be tied into a contract.  Maybe even forced to churn out never-ending series of books, one after the other.  Success is relative but for me, trad publishing just didn't seem like a sign of success anymore.  I didn't want to hang about for years on a dream that might never happen.

Then there was the ebook issue.  Being independent and self publishing seemed like a viable option all of  a sudden.  After a lot of thought, I decided to experiment with ebooks, particularly using Amazon DTP and Smashwords.  I could do things rightnowstraightaway and receive almost immediate feedback.  I would know how people responded to my work and better yet see how my promotional efforts affected sales insanely quickly.  The excitement from other indies has always been infectious and I had realised something.  I had nothing to lose.

I tested it out with some short stories and loved every second of it.  Odd little pieces of flash fiction I never expected to sell now sell every day.  Not many copies but it is a lot more than I expected.  I had such low expectations that every day seems to bring a new high.  It's been such a learning curve but at the same time it all feels so freeing.  We can do things our own way and that rocks.

Even better is how much I've learned in so many aspects of publishing, editing and marketing.  There is such a helpful Indie community out there (Kindleboards I'm looking at you), more than happy to share what they've learned to us newbies mixed in with all of those readers who are dying to tell us what they think.  The consumers are the important ones, they're dictating how we are adapting and dealing with change in publishing.  And we're able to listen and react - something traditionally published writers can't do because they don't have as much control over what happens to their books.

Purely down to my initial introduction to self publishing these past five months or so, I am more than happy to continue.  I'm concentrating on a novella and a novel that I hope to release (after some editing and cover art help) - I don't see myself having any regrets.  I don't have the personality (or time) to wait around for somebody else to publish my book.  I have no problems editing to make a book more readable but I can't change a book to fit a certain market.  Becoming an indie will not work for everyone but if you feel like traditional publishing isn't a good fit then maybe give my way a try.  Lots of people manage to use both methods of publishing and this often works out well too.  Never say never but for me, I'm happy with what I'm doing.

If I fail, I fail on my own terms and if it all works out . . . bonus.  :)


Jess C. Scott

Ty Johnson

Levi Montgomery

Moses Siregar III

Kait Nolan

Zoe Winters

Camille LaGuire


Luna Lindsey

M.T. Murphy

Susan Bischoff

Stacey Wallace Benefiel

J.A. Marlow

Chris Kelly


  1. Amen sister! :high five: Rah rah indie!

  2. Rah rah indie is my new mantra. :)

  3. I totally agree with "failing on my own terms". Exactly. Failure isn't the boogeyman, lack of creative control over your own hard work, is.

  4. Definitely Zoe. Sometimes I think people are half expecting self publishing and ebooks to kick off the apocalypse or something. I might screw up and fail at this but it won't kill me. :)

  5. And if any of us fail, it's not going to kill anybody else, either. Although they seem to be more afraid of our success than our failure.

  6. The failing on my own terms is really why I wanted to go indie.


  7. Huzzah, Claire!

    It's only failure if you don't learn anything and I don't see a single word that points toward failure in this post.

    My hat is off to you for writing with a house full of kiddos. We have two and my writing time is limited to after midnight and the occasional lunch break. My wife writes free Japanese fiction but I keep trying to nudge her in the direction you're going since her readers love her work so much.

    Best of luck to you!

  8. Levi, that's probably true. I hope it settles down eventually and becomes less of us and them. There's room for everyone. :)

    Chris, I sincerely hope you don't fail - on your terms or anyone else's!

    M.T. - I'm a firm believer of experience making even the mistakes worth it. It can definitely get a little crazy trying to squeeze in writing time. Keep encouraging your wife, she has nothing to lose!

  9. Five children? I've got three cats and that's more than enough distraction for me....

    It's interesting how many people "fell" into indie publishing, and then stayed because they loved it.

    I also experimented before going whole hog, and I recommend others do the same thing - get the hang of the process.

  10. I agree Camille. It's a huge learning curve, and it is ever changing too. There is a lot you need to know and the best way to find out if it isn't for you is to test it out and experiment. It was the best way for me, anyway. I discovered it was harder than it sounded at first but I enjoy it so much that it's worth it. Plus, I've learned so much that (hopefully) next time will go a lot smoother.

  11. I'm amazed you can find enough time to finish project with all the distractions at your house. That takes some serious focus and time organizational skills.

    It's great to hear your experiences of how much you've loved indie publishing since 'falling into it'. It's wonderful to have a direct connect with the readers, the ones that truly matter, without interference from middlemen.

  12. I'm not as focused or organised as I'd like but hopefully I'll get better at that side of things.

    I agree, it's very rewarding to have the opportunity to connect with people who want to give someone new a chance. Who better to say what readers like than readers themselves?

  13. "I had nothing to lose."

    I think I started off with that mindset too (at the start).

    "So I had a time limit. And the misfortune to write things that aren't particularly marketable. At least by trad publishing standards. I could tone things down and try to fit into one particular genre but I really can't face that. I write dark fiction to take a break from the fluffier stuff. I write tame y/a fiction to take a break from the morbid stuff. I switch genres, I go into taboo areas and I never get bored. I have fun."

    Me too--I enjoy writing both mainstream and alternative work :P! Guess the balance is good.

    Five small children, wow. RESPECT!


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