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I'm an Indie Author! So Proud!

I just found out that I’m an Indie Author. Can’t tell you how proud I am. No more slightly questionable references to “self-publishing” or “print on demand publishing,” and I certainly don’t have to put up with the insulting words “Vanity Press” anymore. Years ago I was the Head of the anthropology and sociology department at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana. Actually, I was the anthropology and sociology department so they had to make me Head. It was a very small college. Still, my mother was proud and I got a lot of free books from publishers. Anyway, one day a female student set up a table in the lounge of one of the class buildings and began flogging her book, a sci fi adventure. Her rich father had spent $7,000 to have not a great number (it must be said) of hardback books printed by some Vanity Press! It was all so embarrassing, this young person trying to sell her own books. It was so embarrassing that I had to buy a copy. Regardless of my desire to help her, this was a noble institution of higher learning so we made her wear a big scarlet letter V on her clothes and repeat over and over again; "Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is Vanity " whenever she was on campus.

Goodness have things changed. Just a month ago I was a self-published author of questionable repute. But now I’m an Indie Author, which nicely associates me with the bold and creative band of Indie Directors who make Indie Films. I’m an Indie Author who writes Indie Books. I don’t work for The Man! I’m an Indie. Here’s a picture of me in a café in Rome contemplating my next Indie Book not giving a damn what The Man might think. (Look at that concentration!)

Two things made it possible for me to call myself an Indie Author. First the obvious: Technology. The home computer allowed people to save large documents at home. The Internet (or is it the World Wide Web, I can never remember?) opened the window to the world while sitting at home. With the Internet came email which made it possible for individuals to send large documents around the world. With the advent of Internet commerce, on-line bookstores and self-publishing print on demand websites, the book writing and selling business became available to anyone with an Internet connection. Now anyone anywhere can, with little effort and little money, make their book available to millions of readers. With print on demand technology there is no need for a traditional publisher to commit to print runs and stockpiling books that may have to be pulped later. With print on demand if one book is ordered, one book is printed. If a thousand books are ordered, a thousand books are printed. Simple, and environmentally friendly. Actually there is less and less need for traditional publishers. Your book can be made available as an eBook, paperback or hardback just by turning on your computer (and, of course, putting out some money – a hint, wait for the “special offers!”).

No more trying in vain to get past the Gatekeeper – you can’t get to a traditional publisher without first finding an agent, and many agents will not even talk to you without first hiring a “reader.” I once sent out fifty letters to agents. Ten never even acknowledged my existence. Most scribbled their reply, usually “not taking clients,” on my original letter and sent it back to me. Three actually wrote me kind and encouraging letters in return. But no more. And the media is taking notice. The New York Times now includes Indie Authors on the best selling lists. The New York Review of Books reviewed an self-publish book. It’s a start. Some day an Indie Author is bound to be on Oprah.

The second reason I can proudly call myself an Indie Author is that established authors are now self-publishing and they certainly are not going to be called anything but Indie Authors! If they can do it, I can do it. And you can do it. There’s not a traditional publisher on the face of the earth who cares that I’m an Indie Author. But there are a whole lot of publishers that are losing sleep because established authors are going straight to Kindle, the Nook and Kobo.

There are downsides, of course. The first is bad editing. If you put out crap, people won’t read your second book and won’t tell anyone about your first. If you can’t edit, get someone who can. Perfection is what you want, but since becoming obsessed by the embarrassment of typos in my books, I now regularly find one, two or three typos in books from traditional publishers, and sometimes more in eBooks.

Second is a bad book cover. Everything I read says you need a good cover, and that includes for your eBook version. If you can’t do it yourself, get someone who can.

Third, bad marketing. It’s one thing to say that your book is available throughout the world through Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but it’s another thing to say it will be noticed among the hundreds of thousands eBooks, paperbacks and hardbacks out there. The obvious first steps are creating a website and getting it out there in the Cloud through Facebook, Twitter and any other way you can think of doing it. But at bottom line, you may need to pay someone to help you. (I’ve read that when it comes down to it, it is still word of mouth that sells the most books so some Indie Authors are making their eBook version free for the first month or two hoping to establish a readership. It has worked for some.)

I haven’t included in my top three downsides bad book content. Obviously if your book is crap it won’t stand much of a chance. But the notion that crap books come from self-publishing and good books come from traditional publishing is just nonsense. Heavens, there is so much crap out there that at times you have to wonder about the Gatekeeper. However, two admissions: First, at present I would expect more crap from the self-publishing world, and second, a lot of crap sells.

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of articles and essays about Indie Authors and self-publishing. Just google Indie Authors and self-publishing. However, I did find this particular series of articles helpful. Here they are:

Significant Disruption For Traditional Publishers Still To Come

Make Yourself Findable; and

Indie Authors Are Underpricing Their Books.

Copyright © 2012 Dale Rominger

Reader Comments (1)

I couldn't have said it any better myself!

September 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterR. M. Smith

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