Independent author publishing vs traditional publishing; which is best?
I'm tempted to go 'Harry Hill' on you right now, and say,
"There's only one way to find out. Fiiiight!"
But that would not be terribly helpful, no matter how amusing.
So? How do you decide which is better?
There is no right or wrong here. Both have their merits and their pitfalls. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference.
I'm an indie author, as you probably know by now.
I'm loud & proud to be so. It was a choice for me. My own reason is truthfully because I'm a control freak. I didn't want someone tearing my book apart, and applying their own formula to it, and taking most of the proceeds.
If/when I achieve best seller status, I want to be able to say, "I made that."
But what are the pros and cons?
This is probably the hardest path, judging solely on the fact it's the one I chose, and I always seem to choose the path of most resistance ;-)
You are in charge of your own destiny, but this is very much restricted.
You dictate the content of your own book.
You say when, where, how much.
This in itself can be overwhelming.
Let's take ebooks only (paperbacks become even more complex):
Do you publish via Amazon KDP? Well, they hold the market share, so that seems sensible.
Ah, but then there's the KDP Select option, which gets your book in Kindle Unlimited (susbscribers then get your book for free, as they pay one monthly fee).
Ah, but that means your ebook has to be EXCLUSIVE to Amazon. And there's many other platforms out there.
Do you remain out of that and 'go wide'?
I'll probably do a whole blog post on this alone at some point.
And how much do you charge?
You employ your own editor, proof reader, cover designer etc. But this is costly. You have to pay upfront, and it all mounts up.
And yes, ideally, you do need all these. At the very least, a proof reader, as it's virtually impossible to spot all your own errors. You know what you know, and your brain knows what you meant to write.
You are responsible for all your own marketing. This is both good and bad, really. I enjoy it.
Having an 'online presence' is vital. This means creating, maintaining, and regularly interacting on many social media platforms.
You have your own blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Amazon author page...the list goes on.
This really eats into your precious writing time.
You will also find many doors are closed to you. The major newspapers/magazines/blogs don't review indie authors.
Brick & mortar book shops are virtually impossible to get into. If you use print-on-demand for your paperback, the costs are high, and the stores like a 55% wholesale discount, which prices you out.
Waterstones have a process. And when I can face looking at it again, I'll write a blog post on that. There's many many hoops to jump through. And you're unlikely to succeed, but there is a teeny weeny glimmer of hope.
At the end of the day, it's your book your way.
OK, maybe traditional publishing is the solution. All of the above sounds like very hard work.
If you get into one of the 'top five' success seems guaranteed.
Well no, of course it's not. But maybe you have a marginally better chance.
The top publishers now require you to have an agent to even approach them.
They are another layer of gatekeepers, another round of applications, with possibly many rejections. This can be really tough to take.
Bear in mind, even JK Rowling was turned down by multiple publishers though.
There are many authors applying for their perceived golden ticket, but only a very few places are available. Even if you want to get in, you may not be able to gain access.
But if you do get through the double gateway, you then have a lovely contract, with hopefully an advance.
NB NEVER ever pay someone else to publish your book. They are vanity publishers, and won't make your dreams come true.
They have their own editing teams etc. They can take care of a lot of this for you. (*sigh of relief*)
However, it's still up to you to make the changes. And you may not agree with what they have to say.
And you still have to do a lot of your own marketing. They don't have the resources to do all this for every author on their books. They may be able to assist, and maybe you'll get the opportunity to be reviewed by the big hitters. But not necessarily.
The choice is yours, at least, which to go for.
Obviously, the choice of acceptance by trads is in their hands.
Just know this;
WRITING IS HARD
Whichever door you go through, and path you walk down, it is not easy. But it just may be worth it.
Success is never guaranteed, but a lot of hard work is.
As I have said before: write because you love it.
Always in love & light,