Monday, August 29, 2016

The Stresses (and Joys) of Indie Publishing

The Up Side

More and more people are choosing to publish their books independently these days. I've mentioned in numerous posts that the advent of eBooks has brought self-publishing into the mainstream in a way nothing ever has before. Much of the stigma that used to be attached to self-published books is gone. Yes, you occasionally find that bad egg, but you can also find quite a few rare gems as well.

The reasons for indie publishing are many. Complete creative control over your work is one of the most common. There's also the promise of getting your book out to readers immediately, as opposed to spending months, even years, submitting to agents and publishing houses. Many people just give up if they get rejected too many times, and rejection is a major part of traditional publishing. Of course, a negative review can also do a number on a person who has a fear of rejection, but at least they can say that someone purchased their book.

Basically, eBooks and print on demand have made self-publishing easy. Even trendy. Not that it's perfect (remember that bad egg I mentioned?) but it's offering opportunities for people to pursue their passion when they may not have tried otherwise.

The Stresses

I would love to write a post listing the pros and cons of self-publishing. As a blogger, I naturally think about search engine optimization quite a bit, and that kind of post would be just what I need to bring in lots of readers. But I can't make that list. The business of publishing a book is too complicated for that. The pros and cons, for me at least, seem to bleed together.

Yes, if you self-publish, you can get your book out there when you want it out there and you don't have to wait for someone else to make that decision. But, say you publish your book. Then what? Are readers going to magically flock to it as if drawn by some otherworldly force? No. It's your job to find those readers and bring them to your book. If you had traditionally published, the publishing company would do a lot of that work for you. If you are an indie author, it's all on you.

Once your book is finished, you don't want to spend your days sending queries to agents and publishers? Of course you don't. Who would? So you indie publish. But you still have to send queries. Have you scrolled through the reviews of some of the more successful indie authors out there? Have you noticed that many of them begin with the words, "I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review"? How do you think the reviewer got that free copy? The author sent it. How did the author find that reviewer and get him/her to review that book? By sending out queries. Or rather, review requests. It's basically the same thing. You scour the web looking for websites that are willing to review indie books, you compile an email list, and you spend hours, and I mean many hours, sending out requests to bloggers in the hopes that at least a few of them will want to read your book. I can tell you from experience that most of the requests you send out will not be accepted. That doesn't mean your book isn't good. It doesn't mean the blogger doesn't like you. It only means that they are busy, they have a lot of books to read, and yours, for whatever reason, didn't get their attention as much as someone else's did. It happens. A lot.

The Longing

Whether authors are indie published or traditionally published, they most likely all have one thing in common. They consider themselves writers first. They are not advertisers. They are not PR people. They are not website designers or graphic designers or anything like that. They are writers. But if they are self-published they have to be all those other things as well. Now, sometimes that other stuff can be fun, but usually it just takes time away from what they would rather be doing--writing. Yesterday I (finally) formatted Amelia's Children for print and uploaded it to CreateSpace. It took five hours. I already had my eBook cover, but for a print book, I of course needed more than that. EBooks only have a front cover. Print books must have a front, a back, and a spine. I thought just adding those things to what I already had would be a simple process, but...alas! No. It took up most of my afternoon. And I still don't have my print book yet because it is being reviewed by the powers that be to make sure it is formatted correctly.

Now, I have to admit, I do enjoy photo editing. It is a creative process, just as writing is, and I feel satisfaction when I finish a project. But did you hear me say it took all afternoon? Time I wanted to spend working on my new book. The one that is only a couple of chapters from completion. Oh, how I wanted to get just that much closer to publishing that one, but instead I was tying up a loose end from my first book that I had put off for far too long.

I can't tell you how often I have wished I could devote all my creative time to writing my books instead of updating my blog, checking my social media profiles, formatting, sending review requests, platform building, marketing, etc. I've recently heard some fellow indie authors saying wonderful things about Wattpad, and have considered publishing some things there myself, but whenever I think about it my mind says, "Really? Another social media platform?" I just don't know if I have the time or the energy for it. But if I want to sell my books I have to find the time and the energy because they are not going to sell themselves.

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