Why Give Indie a Try
I didn’t forget my post day. I forgot what day today is. This is partly because I’m still feeling like “every day is Sunday” after we finished the heavy part of the house, and partly because today is a wee bit crazy. We just took a load of hazardous waste (paint, mostly) to the local facility, and we’re now getting ready to go to the eye doctor (which is actually a good thing. I think we’ll all agree it will be better if I can write without squinting at the screen and confusing os and es.) Also, I have the Hugo voting to do, I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped.
So, what can I do that is useful to you on short notice?
Well, recently I had the opportunity to discuss indie versus traditional with someone I hope is becoming a friend. So i sort of know the questions on your mind, and will try to answer them. If I don’t cover them, ping me in comments and I’ll try to answer.
Things you wanted to know about indie publishing, but were afraid to ask:
1- Isn’t it a danger to do indie publishing? Won’t it wreck my career? I mean, publishers won’t take me seriously after that.
A- No. No. And also forget about it. Not only Larry Correia, but a lot of other people whom I can’t be bothered to look up right now, start out indie, do well, then get picked up by a house.
2- Won’t having published indie first set off alarm bells at a traditional house?
Um… maybe. But there’s alarm bells and alarm bells. For ten years I’ve watched this kind of pick-up do better than traditionally submitted books. From a business point of view, it makes sense: this person has proven that they can publish and sell, so if you give them a little push, who knows where they’ll end up? But maybe it’s not a bad idea that a publisher also knows you have other options. As Laurell K. Hamilton once told me “publishers are like men. If you only have one, they’ll abuse the privilege.” Now I’m not sure what that means about her relationships, but I know she’s right about publishers (except possibly Baen.)
3- So, what about Baen? Why can’t I just go with them?
Well, Baen is ONE house. And they publish rather specific stuff: sf/f and sf/f of a certain bend. For instance, I thought they wouldn’t do well with Witchfinder because it’s so weird. They might accept it because I’m their author, but it would be a bit odd with their very distinctive fan base (who read it anyway, but because it’s Goldport they know what to expect.) And if you’re not already their author and are doing something like mystery or thriller with no supernatural elements (or even if you ARE their author) they’ll not be able to pick it up.
Also, Baen has a long reply time. Also, Baen might prefer to not pick up a totally untried writer when indie successes would like to publish with them. Or at least they’d prefer tried properties. Can you blame them?
4- But there’s no money in indie!
Well, for the last two years, when I have been almost completely sidelined traditionally, I’ve been making better than my average before I went indie. From Amazon. I’m not getting rich or anything, but those are the reprints, and they’re still nothing to sneeze at. (Around 15k a year, or a little more.) My first indie published novel got me the same I got from traditional in the first three months out. BUT more than that, my friends with no publishing track record are making about the same or just a little less from their books.
5- But what if my book isn’t good enough?
Good enough according to whom? Given their rate of flops, the fact a traditional publisher wants to publish it doesn’t mean it’s “good enough” for the public. At best it means someone else took the responsibility for it if it’s a flop. But not really, since if it’s a flop it’s ALWAYS the writer’s fault.
By all means make sure that you spelled everything right, and that you didn’t completely forget one of the subplots resolution (which sometimes happens traditional, too.)
But in the end what counts is if the book finds an audience. And you can’t decide that. As my husband is finding out, some people out there ARE waiting for a book just like his.
Put the book out and find out. If you’re really afraid it sucks, (to quote Kris Rusch) use I.M.N. Idiot as a pen name. But be prepared for Mr. or Ms. Idiot to be a ROARING success.
Go on, do it.
There’s gold in them there hills.