A year ago, I didn’t know what an “Indie” author was, but now I am one. The word indie means Independent. An “indie” author is someone who has self-published at least one book. A more complete definition includes the concept of the author retaining the creative control of his book. He may collaborate with other publishing professionals (editors, designers, distributors) to produce a good book and reach readers, but these collaborations are done in a way that the author retains control (has the final say) on all the artistic and business decisions related to his book.
A little more than a year ago, I decided to pursue an idea that had been dormant in my mind for more than a decade. I started writing a novel. I had no professional writing training, and I had no knowledge of what is required to get a book published. After six months of writing six days a week and doing the research for the book and editing the writing, I had a book. I then decided it was time to look into getting it published.
I learned that there were basically two alternatives. The first, most obvious, is what I will call “conventional publishing”. This is where the author approaches a well-known publishing company, for example Random House or Simon and Schuster, and signs a contract with the publishing company to publish his book. In most cases, the conventional publishing companies will not entertain unsolicited manuscripts, so a new author must find an agent, who will then help the author find a publishing company. After researching this “conventional publishing” process, I concluded that the odds of a seventy year old, unknown author of a first book finding a conventional publishing deal were extremely low.
That brought me to the second alternative. There are many companies who provide “self-publishing services” if the author is willing to pay for those services. The self-publishing companies basically provide all the services necessary for an author to have his/her manuscript published, regardless of the quality of the manuscript. The self-publishing company provides no judgment on the quality of the manuscript; they simply provide the publishing services paid for by the author.
The world of publishing is changing. Digital technology has revolutionized the book publishing business. The advent of Kindle, Nook, iPad, and other tablet e-book readers is transforming the way people buy and read books. One can now choose whether to read a hard cover or paperback or simply download a digital file and read the book on a Kindle or other digital book reader. Clearly, the trend is for more people to read using a digital reader.
I can’t verify this statement, but people in the publishing business claim that approximately 3000 books are published in the U.S. every day. Amazon has over 8 million books available for sale on their website. Smashwords, an online e-book publishing site, states that they are the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks. “We make it fast, free and easy for any author or publisher, anywhere in the world, to publish and distribute ebooks to the major retailers.” They claim to have books available from over 60,000 authors.
As described in the previous paragraph, it is easy and inexpensive (free in some cases) to self-publish an e-book. I wanted to publish my book not only as an e-book, but also as a paperback and a hard cover. What I learned is that many self-publishing companies offer packages of services and the author can choose a package depending on the amount of money he wants to invest. The packages are as simple as publishing an e-book for a few hundred dollars to packages for publishing an e-book, paperback, and hard cover with other services like copy editing, cover design, formatting, legal services for copyright protection, etc., and various marketing services. These packages can be as inexpensive as $1000 or as much as the author is willing to spend, like $20,000 or more.
I now consider myself an indie author. I self-published my book, LIFE OF A DOUBLE AGENT, using Xlibris, a self-publishing company. I had the final say on all the artistic and business decisions. My book was officially published on March 28, 2013 and since then I have been consumed with the sales and marketing of my creation. My family, relatives, and friends have been very supportive of my first attempt at writing, and together have purchased far more books than I expected. Getting beyond my friends, relatives, and family has proven a harder challenge than I expected, but I continue to promote the book through social media and other more conventional activities, including book signings, articles in papers and magazines, talking to book clubs, etc.
One of the learning experiences from this process has been gaining an appreciation for the hundreds or thousands of indie authors who struggle to find commercial success. Writing is like most other endeavors. For every one person who is successful there are many, many who are not. However, it is incorrect to assume all indie authors are unsuccessful commercially. It is also incorrect to assume the quality of their story telling is inferior to conventionally published books. Many indie authors are very successful commercially, and could be published by conventional publishing companies, but have chosen to continue as indie authors because they want to maintain their artistic control.
I spend a fair amount of time on Twitter sending tweets and retweeting others’ tweets. Most of my followers on Twitter are indie authors. I have purchased many e-books from these indie authors and I am continually amazed with the exceptional quality of work they are doing. Early in my Twitter experience I was introduced to a website of indie authors, named the Independent Author Network, http://www.independentauthornetwork.com. This is a site of over 1100 “indie” authors who use the site to introduce themselves to interested readers and other authors. The site is a great place to meet the authors and read about their books. I encourage you to visit the site and get to know some of the authors. To highlight some of them, I have listed a few below:
Paul Anthony, author of Bell, Book and Candle
Ken Boehs author of The Tilted Truth
June Finnigan, author of My Father, The Assassin
Edward J. Coburn, author of a series, The Dog Who Ate ….
Michael Eging, author of The Paladin of Shadow Chronicles: Annwyn’s Blood
Roberta Goodman, author of A Sojourn in Hell
Arthur Crandon, author of Deadly Election
Dianne Harman, author of Blue Coyote Motel and Coyote in Provence
Jeff Joseph, author of A Novel Obsession
Marhta Bourke, author of The New Breed Novels and the Jaquar Sun Series
Jerrie Alexander, author of Cold Day in Hell
And many others: Elise Stokes, Adam Santo, Lia London, CP Bialois, Glenn Soucy, Elizabeth Marx, Ceri London, Tina Gayle, Randy Massey, and JJ Ellis. And many, many more.
Please support Indie authors.