Oh how many times I get asked, "Who is your publisher?"
Or, "Oh, so you're self-published?" (With a little hesitation on whether or not they should trust another word that comes out of my mouth)
I usually just say yes because I know the people are not wanting to stick around to actually hear the explanation of why NO, I am not Traditionally published, and NO I am no longer claiming to be a self-published author. I've left those two stigmas behind and have moved on and developed into an Indie Author. (Hear the choir singing, Hallelujah!)
But what does being an Indie Author mean? What does it matter? Isn't it still self-published?
Well, allow me to elaborate for you folks. :)
I'll start with the most popular term: Traditional Publishing.
What does this mean?
These are your big boys... the Simon and Schuester, Berkley, Penguin, Macmillan, etc. These are traditional publishing houses that require you to submit your manuscript, via a literary agent, to their company, and then they tell you 'yay' or 'nay.'
Have I tried this?
Did I enjoy the process?
Yes and no.
Why was I not picked up by a traditional publisher?
I can't really give you an exact answer really. But what I can tell you is that I have received the flat out "no" from some companies. But I have also received some incredible feedback from some as well. I've received offers of resubmission once I took into account certain changes... so why did I not do this? Why did I "give up"?
For starters, I didn't really give up. I just decided I was paying way too much for middle men, when I sort of have that "go-getter" personality. I could be doing this myself! Why do I need to pay someone to speak for me?! Unfortunately that's how Traditional Publishing operates. So I said, "See ya later! I'll try this on my own. Thanks for the feedback."
So I did.
Next option: Self- Publishing
What does this mean?
These are companies like AuthorHouse, Frieman Press, Trafford, etc. These are companies that offer publishing packages that range from around $400-$6,000 or more depending on what you want. These packages offer the basics of standard publishing: ISBN, Copyright, Designing/Formatting, Printing, Listing with retail sites. Everything else can be bought at an extra cost... such as: Marketing materials, Editing/Proofing, Expanded Distribution, etc. Everything comes at a cost and your royalties are slim to none. I know this... because my three children's books are through AuthorHouse. Not only did I go through this process once, but three times. I'm pretty familiar with it. I learned what I liked, what I did not like, what I needed, what I did not need... etc. For a first time author, I recommend this route, just because it gets your feet wet and allows you to learn the business. It allows you to learn what you are capable of as well. So that the next go around, you know what to ask for and decline. However, do not expect to make tons of money via this method. You pay for all those middlemen.
Next option: Indie Publishing (Independent)
What does this mean?
Though similar to Self-Publishing there is one bigger factor... One bigger person involved. This is you. You are your own publisher. You don't have one. On the inside cover of your book it says: YOU. :) It's pretty awesome. But what does it mean to publish independently? Well, you have a company you go through for creating your book and printing: Ex. CreateSpace, Smashwords or IngramSpark, etc. These companies provide you with a basic set up: Upload your manuscript. Upload your cover. Upload your ISBN and bam we put this book together how you tell us to.
The author has complete control on the final product. I hired my own beta-readers. I hired my own editors. I hired my own cover artist. I chose how big my book is. I chose glossy or matte finish. I chose page color. I chose price. I chose my distribution channels. I chose my formats. The point: I CHOSE EVERYTHING.
Now what about marketing? It's all up to you. Which some people find quite daunting... but for me, that was one of my biggest complaints with AuthorHouse... they did not ask my opinion on anything, they sent me the standard marketing package at a whopping $1500, and I hated all of it. In fact, I did not send anything out because I was so embarrassed by the product I was given!
For Indie Authors, you choose who you would like to design your marketing materials, whether it be you or someone else. You control what products you want, what they say, how they look, etc. I LOVE THIS! This is the fun stuff! (Other than the book part, duh) I love my marketing for The Unfading Lands, because it is EXACTLY how I imagined it... I hired a graphic designer and I was able to say 'yay' or 'nay' on designs and projects.
On top of having control over everything and doing everything yourself, you receive higher royalties. With AuthorHouse I was receiving maybe 5% or 10% (at least that's how minimal it seemed... I'm talking, almost non existent after they take their chunk) but being Indie Published, I receive 70%.... 70% royalties!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's incredible. Did you know you can actually make money as an author?! I didn't... well until I went this route. I've made more the last 2 months than I have the last 8 years combined!
So there you have it. An Indie Author is basically the coolest author you are ever going to meet. Why? Because several have said 'no' to traditional publishing companies. They've said 'no' to the self-publishing companies where it breaks the bank. And they've said 'yes' to mastering their skill and owning up to the challenge and responsibility of doing everything themselves! Booya!
And please, do not make the mistake of assuming an Indie Author's work does not measure up to a traditionally measured book. Don't give us the small head tilt and the stink eye... when honestly, sometimes the opposite is quite true. Janet Evanovich, Colleen Hoover, E.L. James, Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe... all started out as Self/Indie Authors ... Mark Twain started his own printing company to put his books out!
Not all books on the market become best-sellers, whether traditionally published or not, but let's not overlook those that do. Because those people paved the way for the Independent person... the Independent Author... to get their works out there. And some of them are incredibly amazing. I know because I've read them.
So there ya go. I hope you feel fully educated. I hope the next time you see an Indie Author you can say, "Congrats on all your hard work." or "Wow, this is an incredible book."
Nothing means more than someone loving our work! :)
Howdy Everyone! And welcome to my website! My name is Katharine Hamilton and I am a writer and multi-genre author! Thank you for stopping by!