Why I am Going Indie

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I was having coffee with a friend the other day, and of course I told her all about the book I am about publish. “Oh, but why not try to get a proper publishing deal before you do that?” she said. I told her I wasn’t interested in that route, and she quickly responded with “don’t put yourself down: you never know unless you try.” I assured her that this was a positive decision I was making, and nothing to do with being under-confident. Her response? “Well I suppose at least a proper publisher might see what you do and pick you up later.” My friend’s perspective is not an uncommon one; I have come across many others who think I am somehow selling myself short by ‘settling’ for publishing independently. So in this post I want to explain why it is my first choice to put my book out this way, without ever having sent off a single query letter.

1. Traditional publishing is a slow process in a fast world. Writing query letters, waiting for responses, writing more query letters, then playing by someone else’s schedule can take months; maybe longer. Once my work is as polished as I can make it, I want it to be out there in the marketplace, not on a decision-maker’s desk. I want to be moving on to my next book without worrying whether the first will ever be in a reader’s hands.

There is a strong argument to say that by publishing too quickly you are not ensuring top quality. Many who have traditional publishing deals have got there with their fourth, fifth, sixth book, and with each attempt they have improved as writers. Indies may do our improving in front of a live audience, but that does not mean we publish any old rubbish. Being an indie author is about taking control of our own reputation, so it wouldn’t make sense to put anything other than our best efforts out there. We can still hire an editor, use a graphic designer to put together a professional cover, and format our documents beautifully; the only difference being we commission it all ourselves.

2. I am an author. I know writers who are so disheartened by their pile of rejection letters that they are at the point of giving up their craft altogether. They have worked so hard for so long, and are still being denied their dream. Often there isn’t even anything wrong with the manuscripts they are submitting, they simply aren’t a good fit for the publisher or they have enough authors on their books already. Even those who are selected do not have a job for life: bestselling authors are dropped from their publishers more often than you might think. It doesn’t have to be that way: you do not have to play the lottery and your chance at success does not have to be someone else’s decision.

There is an amount of prestige that seems to come with being traditionally published, an external validation that you are ‘good enough’. This is a confidence issue at heart, which all creatives inevitably suffer. But the fact of the matter is, I write because I have to. It is my passion and it keeps me healthy. I want to publish because I want people to read my stories, and that is within my reach. I know I am meant to be an author, so I am going to be an author.

3. I want it all my own way. It appeals to me to maintain full creative control over the way my books are shown to the world. I can decide on my target genre, my pricing, my next project, the images and techniques used to market my work, and my schedule.

4. I have a manager’s hat. My day job has taught me a lot about the business world; I am well versed in strategy, marketing and finance. And, although it uses the brain in a very different way to creative writing, I enjoy applying that knowledge. There is a lot of hard work involved, sure, but for me, wearing a creative hat and a manager’s hat at the appropriate times will give me all round fulfilment.

5. It is the future. With increased connectivity and several large organisations making it simple to format, upload and distribute, independent publishing is more accessible than ever before. Where authors used to need a publisher and an agent, we now need a computer and the ability to research. More people are choosing this option all the time, including authors who have been traditionally published in the past. Indies are starting to gain respect in the industry: we can get our books into stores, we can attend conferences with established authors, and we can be nominated for awards. As with anything that replaces tradition, there is resistance. But, to be successful in a changing world you have to change with it.

I would hate for anyone to read this and think I am disrespecting authors who choose the traditional path: my entire philosophy of life is built around individuals doing whatever most closely aligns with the passion and values at their core. But I hope I have explained why this is the right path for me, and why going indie is not a fallback or second best plan: it is a proactive preference.


My first book – Fragments of Perception and Other Stories – is due to be published in November by my independent micro press, Orchid’s Lantern.

You can follow me on WordPress, Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on my process and inspirations.

22 thoughts on “Why I am Going Indie

  1. Fantastic insight, although I was hooked on the concept of indie publishing long before I needed a reason to be 😛 I’m a fanatic for indie music, so you can imagine the appeal of walking (sort of) in the footsteps of my heroes. Very different art forms of course, and consequently procedural wise and whatnot the two are very different, but at their cores the concepts are the same as those you’ve outlined here.
    I’m a long ways from even thinking about publishing, but when I do get there I shall have to refer back to this post (and you, if you’d be willing to help)!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m pleased you found it interesting and that you’re already on board. It’s suprising how many people just don’t get indie publishing… As for your future ventures, of course I’ll be willing to help, just give me a shout if there’s anything you need ☺

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Well reasoned — I suspect you are making the right choice. When I finished my memoir a couple of years ago, I immediately began investigating the indie route for getting it out there, for much the same reasons as you just delineated. That is, until I decided that the content of said memoir wasn’t really something I wanted anyone to actually read. But your book — I will be one of its premier cheerleaders and recommenders once it’s published. I’m having a hard time with the editing part of the beta read because I find it so enjoyable to just read. But I’ve finished the “just read” part, so now I’ll get down to constructive business. It’s a masterpiece, Caroline, plain and simple.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. As a reader who obsesses over bad copy, my main disappointment with indie publishing is the horrific lack of self-awareness I find. So many writers who publish their own works end up embarrassing themselves and don’t even know it. I’ve read your flash fiction and can honestly say your skill at storytelling and impeccable copy are definitely ready for prime time. You should be published. Going it on your terms is better because your writings don’t easily fit into a box. You need to create a universe that can hold them. I look forward to reading your debut.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. What Pablo said about lack of awareness. A lot of people have no idea how their stuff reads. Anyway… I went through this entire scene with the music industry. Brick and mortar tune stores are done. Publishers want your marketing ducks in a row and your copy in the can. If an Indie takes off, they might pick it up. Or not. Ain’t nobody getting rich but the people who hit the jackpot before the presses died, so put it out there when you think it’s right and see who salutes!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I know quite a few authors personally who are indie published or published through smaller companies. My favorite new author Grace Draven is self-published, and her stories are phenomenal. I’ve been through the gambit of rejection, which is why I shelved by paranormal romance novel and took up my focus on fanfiction writing to try to gain back some of my confidence. I still want to reedit that work and I have many other originals planned. For now I do still want to try traditional publishing, but you’re absolutely right about the validation thing, because the way I felt after all of those rejections was like I and my writer were worthless even though I know how subjective the publishing world is. Running my own blog for two plus years has helped me immensely with my confidence. I still think I’m going to go the traditional route, but I now no longer look at self-publishing as a non-option.

    I can’t wait to read your book in November! I hope you’ll be on Goodreads, too, since that’s how I generally keep track of what I want to read 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I respect your decision to stick with traditional publishing. It’s a decision everyone has to make for themselves, and the indie route isn’t for everyone. I agree that blogging is a great way to improve confidence, and also just to force you into continuously producing new material.

      I’m glad you’re interested in my book. I will certainly be on goodreads: I can start an author page as soon as I assign an isbn I believe.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. To be honest now that I’m seeing so many prestigious writers going the indie route, it’s not longer a hard no from me. I’m going to attempt traditional first, but if it comes to it, I’m not going to outright reject indie publishing, because you’re right, the industry is changing, and at the end of the day, I want people to read my work.

        Very much so and thank you! It’s really a phenomenal resource for both readers and writers. I don’t know how I’d keep track of my TBR list if not for it. I suppose Excel, but Goodreads makes it much easier.

        Liked by 2 people

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