I have every respect for those still trying to get traditionally published, or who have been. I wish you the very best. But not me, not anymore.
I tried for years to get my work noticed in the traditional publishing route, mainly to see that nobody was even reading my work. Straight to the slush pile. I stopped writing for over a decade, until I began to hear more good things about independent publishing. In 2012, I put one short story up on Amazon for Kindle, as an experiment. After two years, I still sell one or two copies a month. I’m okay with that – it was an experiment. Today, I entered that story into Amazon Select (it stays exclusively on Amazon and is sold nowhere else), which also now includes Kindle Universe, Amazon’s new paid-monthly service. Why not?
I also recently published my first young adult novel. I can say that, even though I haven’t experienced indie stardom as yet, I will likely never look to traditional publishing again. Here’s why:
1. In traditional Big 5 publishing (and let’s face it, smaller houses exist in very small numbers these days), publishers focus primarily on A-list and celebrity authors, giving them multi-million dollar advances in hopes that they’ll make that money back. Mid-list authors average (if any) about $1200 advances. Because traditional publishers don’t do a lot of marketing anymore, I’ll still be responsible to get my name out there. I may never see another penny, because if my book doesn’t take off, stores will send it back to the publisherm and the book will go sit in nowheresville.
In independent publishing, I can get beta readers and an editor for myself (I’m lucky enough to have friends who are professionals but will edit my work for free). I market my stuff, and I can both e-pub and offer print copies of my books.
2. In traditional publishing, you almost always have to have an agent (who takes a cut), then the publishing house (which takes a huge cut). The publisher would decide the cost of your print and e-books.
In indie publishing, I make a 35% to 70% royalty on every sale. I can price my own book. Thus far, having my novel out for less than a month in e-book, and only a week in print, I have made only about $200 total in royalties. BUT – in traditional, my book would be accepted, but probably not even put out for another 18 months, so I’d making nothing for one to two years, if at all. More importantly, my work wouldn’t be out there for anyone to access.
Frankly, for very little marketing (i.e., just talking about it on social media), I’m feeling pretty good about the sales. I don’t expect to get much more until the next two books in the trilogy are out. But even if I don’t make a lot in the first year…my work is out there, and I’ve made more already than I would have, because my book is out – not sitting in a queue.
3. Control – I control my own work. My beta readers and editors make suggestions, but in the end, it’s mine.
4. Time. In traditional publishing, my book has a very narrow window of time to either be successful – or not. If it’s not an immediate success, stores will pull it from shelves. The traditional publisher will still own the copyright for however many years we contracted for. Which means, it’s dead until I get the copyright back. Even if my indie published book sells slowly, there is not time limit.
5. Reports are now attributing independently published authors making more on average than traditionally published books.
Anyway, mostly it’s having my own control over my books and over what I charge for them. I’m only on Amazon right now (Kindle and print through Amazon’s Createspace), but am headed out now to get it on Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Sony, and a few other places out there. That’s another point – I control where my work is displayed.