Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Indie Doesn't Mean Solo
Thanks so much to L.J. for letting me post here at Crime Scene Collective. I met her at Left Coast Crime and became an immediate fan.
Indie publishing is, according to Carina Press editor, "the new black." Although I've never been much for fashion, this is one trend I'm happy to follow.
Of my nine novels, I've "indie-published" seven titles. Only two of them would qualify as "indie" books, since the other five are back list titles, previously released by several different publishers.
I opted to release DEADLY SECRETS myself for a variety of reasons.
First, I did approach a more traditional route. However, feedback from agents and publishers was that although the writing was strong, the book didn't fit into their neat little packages. It's a mystery with a police chief hero, so it should be a police procedural. However, there are also two main secondary POV characters who aren't cops. That makes it fit the cozy sub-genre, where crimes are solved by amateur sleuths.
Given the upsurge in indie publishing, I decided not to rewrite the book to fit inside the publishers' boxes. Readers don't really care about boxes if they like the story and the characters.
Instead I went indie. I'd had success with other titles, and I'd always preferred mystery, even though my other novels are all romantic suspense. But again, that's a definition imposed by the industry. Believe me, if there was a category called, "Mystery with Relationships" I'd be all over it. But if you're a relative unknown without mega sales numbers, publishers don't want to touch you. Add breaking into a new genre, and it's a virtual kiss of death, short of changing your name and starting from scratch.
Indie publishing. Self publishing. No matter which you call it, there's a subtext that you're isolated somewhere. Just you and your manuscript. While it may be true in some cases, I think anyone with a modicum of success publishing their own work doesn't go it alone. Sure, there are those who enter the world of indie publishing because they don't have the patience to learn the craft. Their friends say they've written a "great book" and that's enough for them to slap it up on Amazon. But once their friends have bought their copies, it's not likely they'll sell more.
But that step ISN'T publishing. No, it's hiring a professional editor. Someone who has an objective eye and isn't afraid to hurt your feelings when things aren't working. Someone who can show you where you might have strayed from the path and set you back. Or, in the case of one of my earlier books, where I'd tried to take the easy way out and gloss over a combat scene, insist that I write those seven minutes I'd merely mentioned in passing. And some authors will hire two editors. One for content, and then one to do line edits. They're different skill sets.
Then there's a cover artist. Cover design for indie books is a rising industry. It's not the same as a print cover, because you've got to catch a reader's eye in a thumbnail sized image. Less becomes more.
If you're not tech-savvy enough to format your book, you need more help, also at a cost.
And then, there's the marketing and promotion. Here, you ARE alone with your manuscript. Getting the word out becomes your sole responsibility.
Traditional publishers do almost everything I've mentioned above for you. In reality, you're more "indie" when you publish traditionally than when you become your own publisher.