Ooo! The world of books is just so exciting these days! Everything is changing and change means fun. Granted, it also means stress, uncertainty, and violent mood-swings. … Or maybe that’s just me. But really, in the end the changes can only lead to a better world of reading for all of us.
What changes am I talking about? Why, the dawn and rise of Indie Authors, of course!
For those who are unaware, with the introduction of new options such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Barnes & Noble’s Pub-it, and now a slew of other self-publishing and distributing platforms such as Smashwords, anyone who has a computer and an idea can publish a book.
No, really. It’s that easy. It’s also vastly complex, but that’s a blog post for a different day.
What does this mean for you, the reader? It means that you have many times the choices that you once had. So why should you choose to read a book by an author you’ve never heard of? Why, let me tell you….
1. Discover new authors before everyone else does - In the olden days, authors generally had to jump through years’ worth of hoops in order to put a book in your hands. This involved finding an agent who was willing to represent them and having that agent sell the book to a publisher who was willing to print it. As you can imagine, a tiny fraction of the writers who set out on this epic journey ever reached the finish.
That’s all changed. Time and time again you hear stories about Indie Authors who were rejected for years before finally setting out on their own to publish their book. And they succeeded. Big time. Several hundred thousand copies of a book later you can hear the collective thwack of hundreds of agents and publishers smacking their foreheads for not representing that author. For not representing that author sooner, that is. Today’s Indie Phenomenon is tomorrow’s New York Times bestseller. And you can say you knew them when.
2. Become the Gatekeeper yourself – I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “agents and publishers are the gatekeeper of quality writing”. It’s true to a certain extent. Historically agents and publishers have weeded out the problem children of the literary world and ensured that only high quality books end up in your hands. But as I hinted above, a lot of wonderful novels were delayed from getting into the hands of avid readers by this process.
Yep, there are a lot of under-edited, problematic self-published novels on the market. But how cool is it that you get to be the one who decides which of those have merit and promise and which ones need to go back to the drawing board? There is a whole world of unusual themes and unconventional ideas that are just waiting for YOU to be the one to decide if they sink or swim.
Which brings me to the next point….
3. Indie Authors take risks – It’s a well-known fact that publishers are wary of taking chances on concepts and themes outside of what they know sells. My first novel, The Loyal Heart, was rejected by a couple of agents who told me that they thought it was very good but wouldn’t represent it because they didn’t think it would sell. It’s Medieval Romance, you see, and in the Romance world right now if it’s not Regency of Georgian publishers are hesitant.
The same is true of other genres. I don’t blame publishers for sticking with what they know sells and being less certain about anything unusual, but there are a lot of unusual people out there. If you eat your cereal with a fork, Indie books might be for you. Indie Authors don’t have anyone telling them to color inside the lines.
4. Your money will go to a good cause – I don’t know what most of the world believes about what writers get paid, but unless your name is J.K. Rowling, Nora Roberts, or John Grisham it ain’t a lot. Very few writers can make a living off of writing alone in today’s world. On average, in the world of traditional publishing all but pennies of the cost that you pay for a book goes to the publishing company, book distributors, and agents.
Indie Authors generally collect anywhere from 30% to 70% of the profit off of every book they sell. Sounds good, right? It is. Although if you take into account that the most commonly accepted price for an Indie book is $2.99, when it’s not being sold at 99 cents, that is, it’s not as much as you’d imagine. Add to that the fact that professional editing can easily run more than $1,000 and a professional cover design can be upwards of $300, and you can see that publishing isn’t cheap.
But Indie Authors shell out the big bucks anyhow. Why? Because they are passionate about what they do. We write because our souls need to breathe.
5. Indie Authors love you – Personally, I feel like this is the best reason of all. All authors, J.K. Rowling too, love their readers. But for an Indie Author YOU are the difference between the angst of wondering if it’s all worth it and knowing that it is. Just one special fan, one person who says that your books get them through the long, cold winters (Katie, I’m looking at you!) or go with them on vacation, make everything worthwhile.
And there you have it. Indie Authors offer you more than just a book to read. They offer you a new relationship, a place of honor, and a level of respect that brings the world of creativity down to eye-level. Reading Indie books puts you in the driver’s seat and unfolds exciting new experiences for both you, the reader, and us, the author.
So what is your favorite Indie book? What has your experience of testing these new waters been like, as both a reader and a writer?