IWSG Post: A Rambling Post on Why I Chose to Become an Indie Author

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeIt’s the first Wednesday of the month, so this post is for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. It’s my first post for this blog hop. I’m just a little bit nervous.

Fitting.

I’ve decided to answer the totally optional prompt this month (paraphrased): What publishing path did I take, and why?

About five years ago I decided to self-publish instead of sending my manuscript (first three chapters printed out with a synopsis and cover letter) to a traditional publisher. There were a number of reasons. They all stemmed from a book called The Naked Truth About Book Publishing by Linda Houle. I still have it in my Kindle library.

It’s a pretty good book, though very dated now. At the time it was published, this book pointed out all the problems and good points of traditional publishing, publishing with a small press, and self-publishing, as it stood at the time. And it came out around the time of the Kindle Revolution, when some authors were making a huge amount of money by publishing their work themselves. Which means self-publishing was increasingly in the news.

I would like to say I thought through my decision completely and totally. And I kind of did. I liked the idea of hiring my own cover artist. I liked the idea of a 70% royalty. The biggest attraction was control. I wanted whatever mistakes that got into the book to be mine. Because then I at least had a chance of fixing them.

But that’s not what made me pick up Linda Houle’s book in the first place. I couldn’t even tell you what it was exactly, except that my husband would take that manila envelope to the post office and either forget to drop it in or not feel right about doing it. I went by there myself and ended up not feeling right about it either. And it made no sense. I decided I must have missed something in my research, so I began reading whatever I could on the subject. Thus, the book by Houle.

Now, this decision was not easy. I wanted a book that looked professionally published, but had no money to do anything. And that terrified me. I try not to think about those early days because I knew I was making mistakes as part of the learning process and I hate mistakes so very, very much.

But those mistakes were mine, so I fixed them as I worked.

I learned the editing process and (confession time) did all the editing myself using every trick I could find (still do). I studied book covers at my local bookstore and Wal-Mart and tried to figure out the fonts and images needed for the genre I’d chosen. I read books on design and art. I made basic ebooks using Smashwords’s formatting advice and put together readable ebooks.

And, over time, I improved and became less afraid each time I hit Publish.

I still have a lot to learn and I still make mistakes, some of them costly. Like, for example, the time a reader pointed out a couple of errors in a book and I decided to switch from my “I’m so glad you’re reading” tone to a “professional” tone because I didn’t want to be seen as someone who didn’t know what they were doing. It wasn’t until much, much later that I realized I’d come across as cold. *headdesk* And enough time had passed by that point* that I didn’t feel comfortable trying to write back with that “I’m so glad you’re reading” tone.

So yeah. Still make big mistakes.

But the point remains: those mistakes are mine. I can own them. I can change them with minimal fuss. And that makes me glad I chose self-publishing.

* I was going through the death of a family member and a move at the same time and both had repercussions for months afterward. That’s why it took so long to realize how I’d sounded.

 

17 thoughts on “IWSG Post: A Rambling Post on Why I Chose to Become an Indie Author

  1. Happy Belated IWSG Day!
    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog.
    Self-publishing is very enticing and offers lots of control, but it’s not for everyone, and that’s okay. I love self-publishing but will keep my eyes open to small-press trad publishing options from time to time.
    It sounds like you have really embraced the life of self-publishing and are happy with your choice. That’s all we can hope for. All the best with your continued publishing endeavors.

  2. Ah mistakes. Yes. I admit to many and fear there are more in my future, just not the same ones. I’d say you made quite a thoroughly thought-out decision, and it’s wonderful that you’re seeing that decision as the right one. I’m so glad you’re a member of IWSG, and I hope to know you better as we trudge through this business together.

  3. Arlee Bird

    Live and learn, as they say. I didn’t think your story rambled, but got to the point rather nicely. In our times things can change so quickly in publishing as in every other realm. It’s a big job just to stay on top to guess what the next big thing will be and what is not worth doing anymore. So much to learn…

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  4. spunkonastick

    I’d screwed up enough of my own books before opening Dancing Lemur Press that I finally figured out how to do everything correctly. (Mostly anyway.) It does take trial and error. We have a professional editor on staff and mistakes will still slip through to the finished product.

  5. melissamaygrove

    We all grow as writers. I look back at some of the mistakes I made in the early years and cringe.

    I’m indie, too, and glad I chose that path.

  6. control is important—I’ve had a few arguments over covers and other things with my publisher, but they also have lots of good advice and other helpers. And learning and improving, you’re on a great path! Keep it up!

  7. Lee Lowery

    As I’m reading today’s entries, a lot of us are interested in control. That’s important to me as I consider going the self-pub route. And yes, even with careful editing, mistakes will still be made. But that’s just as true in traditional publishing. I recently checked out a book from the library, best-selling author, big publishing house. Someone before me actually penciled in several edits. Normally I’m appalled at any writing or notes made in library books (do as you wish with your own paid-for books) but my twisted sense of humor found it hilarious.

    1. Wow. O_O I had no idea anyone would be so focused on making sure a book was corrected that they would pencil corrections into a *library book*. The chutzpah tickles me. 😀 Thank you!

      My daughter, who reads even more voraciously than me, finds all sorts of mistakes in even the most carefully produced books. That’s part of what gave me the courage to go ahead and publish as an indie. I’ve also been reading about various authors (including Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison) and I’m noticing writers have a tendency, in general, toward wanting to control. It takes effort to go the other way. So maybe, if there is a such a thing as a “writer personality” that’s part of it? *shrugs*

Thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s