Risks and the Indie Author

I had a sort of epiphany today.

One of the great things about working for someone else is that they take all the risks. If a project doesn’t do well, you, the employee, still get a paycheck. Even freelancing at least has a contract. Fill the obligation and you get paid. Doesn’t matter of if the item you helped create succeeds or fails.

Being an indie author isn’t like that.

If a book, or series, fails to take off, you don’t get paid. It’s a difficult thing for the artist side of me to wrap my head around. Because so much time gets sunk into these projects, it’s easy to say, “Well, I know it isn’t selling, but I’ll just keep working at it and hoping that maybe some people are waiting for the series to finish even though the sales tell me no one cares, etc., etc.” I mean, that’s one of the great things about being your own publisher, right? A series that maybe just needed some time will end up being worth it, all because I have more patience than a publishing house. Plus, I have my own need for closure. I want to see how the story ends.

The problem? No matter how small I am, I’m also a publishing house. That means I take on the risks.

I’ve recently had to look at my books, not as projects, but as products. See, I have a bunch of story ideas. Each one takes time to develop. If I keep spending time on a series that doesn’t seem to be taking off, then I have to face the possibility that it will never take off. I have to consider that I’m wasting my time if I keep working on that series instead of focusing on other projects.

Trial of the Ornic isn’t taking off. I’ve gotten good feedback, but the sales aren’t there. When I look at the stats on Smashwords for The Baker’s Wife, the first book in the series, no matter what form it’s in, it doesn’t get looked at nearly as often as my other titles.

Being a publisher means knowing when to cut your losses. Being an indie author means I don’t have to consign this series to the depths of oblivion. It’ll just be on the back burner for a while. But I do have to move on.

It hurts. Part one of the next book is almost finished, and part two’s rough draft is done. I’ve even finished the cover for part one. But if it’s almost dead last right now in my readers’ interest, then I don’t see the point in continuing it in the near future, no matter how much I’d love to find out what happens next. I need something that’ll earn its keep, even if it’s just a trickle.

So, tomorrow I start the rough draft of a very different series, one I put off because I was afraid it was too strange. It’s total space opera-type, pulpy stuff, of a kind that I know is going to be ridiculed by true fans of sci-fi. Anyway, here’s the one-sentence summation of the plot, as it currently stands. We’ll see how much it changes after I’ve finished the rough draft.

A human rebel, mother to the unborn savior of mankind, compels an alien bounty hunter to not only take her in, but help her escape the ruthless aliens, and humans, who will stop at nothing to destroy them both.

I don’t think I’ll be blogging in May, but I’m not sure. The focus in May will be on finishing the rough draft of this new book. Afterward? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll go back to Trial of the Ornic. Maybe I’ll continue this new series. I have no clue. Stay tuned.



4 thoughts on “Risks and the Indie Author

  1. lulumorina

    Reading this just brought to light the difficulties of indie authors, something I had strive to be as a child, now I really want to read your books to see what wonderful webs of words you’ve spun!

    Good luck with the sales!! (:


  2. I understand your pain definitely. I know that I should write sequels to my current novels to maximise sales but I’m not feeling it at the moment. It doesn’t feel worth the pain to make a few extra sales (I’m lucky if I sell double figures of a book in a month). I also know that you have to write what inspires you, not what the market wants, because I think it comes out in the writing. Indie publishing (I think) is a game for the long term. I have to believe all my books will sell one day and I have the luxury of waiting, knowing I own my books and can keep them in print as long as Amazon will let me. My current novels have barely broken even against cover and editor costs, never mind the thousands spent on childcare or my time. I would dearly love to have a paying job but I can’t imagine giving up on the writer’s dream – I find it awe-inspiring that you manage to do both.
    Anyway sorry for the ramble, I hit the wrong button so this is the second time I’ve written this!


    1. No worries about rambling. I do it all the time!

      It’s great that you’re selling and managing to break even (when it comes to editing and covers). And I completely agree that a person should write what they want. I just wish that every story I wrote sold. I know not every story will. Several months ago (or was it a year?), Konrath posted his numbers, including how many copies each of his books sold. Most sold well, or at least put out a decent showing. But there was one book that sold some crazy low number. I think it was three copies? I’m not sure if it took off later or not, but I remember looking at that and realizing that even Konrath sometimes has books that won’t sell.

      And, um, thank you for the compliment. It really helps that my kids are older (school-age) and can do a lot of things on their own. I’m amazed *you* do as much as you do with young ones to take care of. I couldn’t.



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