One month ago tomorrow, I made a huge writing career decision.
No, that’s not right.
One month ago tomorrow, a writing path chose me.
I will be an Indie Author!
A what now?
Indie Authors pretty much rock. But, for a more intelligent explanation, here we go. The first thing you have to understand is definitions in this world are nearly as varied as genres and sub-genres these days! So, you’re getting my definition based on my understanding of the reading I’ve done on the matter. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, here we really go!
Today’s writers have many great options when it comes to being published. The main ones are:
- Traditionally published with companies that vary from “The Big Five” to smaller regional presses to even smaller Indie publishers. (Yes, those exist. Then some people call Indie Authors, Indie Publishers. Start to see the confusion?) To go this route today, most writers need to first land an agent to represent them to publishing companies (especially the larger ones). Some smaller presses don’t require an agent, though; so writers could directly submit to those. Either way, traditionally published writers have a long road of querying (sending letters in hopes of having an agent or editor request their full manuscript) and submitting (full book manuscripts). [Another little note: every type of book requires various forms of queries and submissions. Writers have to know the formatting requirements, paperwork needs, submission methods, etc. for whoever they’re sending work to; so that, in itself, is a huge research project!] And, the first letter in the mail rarely, if ever, receives a contract. So, when you hold a book in your hands that’s been traditionally published, know that that author went through three months (pretty much unheard of) to decades of querying/submitting before being accepted. Then, they typically put in another year or two of edits, etc. and another year or so until the books actually hit the shelves. Those books you fall asleep to each night literally hold the author’s blood, sweat, tears and countless sleepless nights!
- Self-published, which—like I said—sometimes means different things to different people and is sometimes used interchangeably with Indie publishing, is the next option. For our purposes here, I’m going to simplify this and differentiate it from Indie with an example. Self-publishing would be what my grandfather did with his memoirs before he passed away. He paid to have a company handle all of the formatting and cover design and production. He purchased and gave copies to his family, and I am so thankful he gave us this beautiful gift. This type of publishing is sometimes referred to as “vanity publishing,” and gets a snarky face from some more snobby folks in literary circles. When I think of self-pub, I think of someone who’s always wanted to publish a book, but may not necessarily want to make it a business. They have one or two stories to tell and that’s good for them. I think that’s awesome, and it’s great they have companies geared toward that! I’ve read some delightful stories from self-pubbed authors like these.
- Indie published authors take it one step further into making books their business. An Indie Author wears multiple hats—writer, design advisor, project manager, marketer. This author contracts the production of a book to a company like Ingram Spark, but all design choices are made by him and all marketing is done through him. He may contract out other tasks—cover design, editing, formatting. At the end of the day, he makes all final decisions for how the books appear, where and how to sell them and so much more. Indie Authors typically produce many more books each year because this is their business. The more quality products they have to sell, the more profitable their business is. I am excited to be part of the Indie community and have already met some of the most inspirational people!
- Hybrid published authors give you one more category—just to confuse you further! This one’s actually fairly simple to understand. These are authors who’ve published both traditionally and personally. I will potentially fall in this group, depending on what happens with Ashlee’s book and which way I decide to go with my children’s books.
It chose you?
Okay, okay, you’re thinking I’m crazy, right? After all, this isn’t Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C.; and I’m a mere muggle.
Well, that’s really how it happened. I’ve been on the fence ever since I began this journey as to which path I would choose. I was working on another post when I wondered, “What really is the difference between self-pub and Indie? So, I looked it up—turns out there are varying opinions, as I said. I was reading one blogger’s descriptions of each and, as I read the details involved with being an Indie Author, I got more and more excited. This description I sent to my writer friend Mea Smith is exactly what happened to me (and, yes, this is how we message each other):
Okay, now I’m the one freaking and trying not to look like a junior high cheerleader on speed. I want to be an Indie Author! That sentence just fluttered out of my heart, landed on my shoulder and spread its wings to stay. I may be insane, but I’m an ecstatic mental person!
So, friends, the Indie path chose me—and I’m not completely crazy, despite how I sound.
Oh, who am I kidding? I’m pretty crazy! (I blame the kids, though.)
Be logical, Joy. Why Indie?
I am so glad you asked!! But, you’re going to have to wait for my answer. Hop back over next Thursday when I give you my top three reasons Indie and I were made for each other! And, finally, in two weeks, you’ll get my 2018 goals broken down with some details about my mini-goals and plans to achieve my dreams!
In the meantime, what do you think about my insanity? Writers, which path are you walking? Readers, did you know about these various roads to authorship? If so, do you happen to have a favorite Indie Author? I may just have to follow them, too! I’m anxious to learn from more of those incredible folks who’ve gone ahead of me!