10 Reasons Why You Should Become An Indie Author!
You always wanted to be a writer. You probably have that first novel written and waiting to be published. You spent a year getting it ready. You reread, revised, edited and polished the story a dozen times. You’re ready to send it out into the world and get some feedback; hopefully positive reviews. What are you waiting for? Ah—the acceptance letter by a literary agent.
Now that may be a problem. Literary agents are very selective on whom they want to represent. They only want the best, whether that is a talented newcomer, a known author, or a proven market seller of their preferred genre of stories. It’s very hard to meet all the requirements agents are looking for in an author or story. As I have said; they only want the best and the promise of a successful outcome. After all, this is a business and everyone wants to make a profit.
For those of you who made the case and found a literary agent to represent you, this article is probably not for you. I hope your story is successful and you sell enough paper copies to make the publisher proud. You are on your way and are now hard at work on your next novel.
The rest of you are still trying to figure out how to accomplish what every published author has already achieved. You have sent out dozens of query letters and sample pages to every literary agent you could find. In response, you have received a large number of rejection letters, some of which included helpful suggestions on how to improve your story and achieve success. Many may have offered the only thing they could—HOPE.
I feel for you. Never give up; that’s my motto too. Only, there comes a time when you have to accept the inevitable and try a new approach to get your story published. That is what it takes to become an Author. No matter the reason why you could not convince a literary agent or traditional publisher to accept your story, now is not the time to give up. If you believe in what you wrote, then I urge you to self-publish your story on your own. Become an Indie Author! What have you got to lose?
Some Background Information:
Let me give you some background information on why I am suggesting you should consider become an Indie Author. I seriously started writing science fiction stories in 2001. I figured it was then or never, so I started writing my first story called Alien Storm. I was working full-time then and could only write part-time. I finished the story eight months later in 2002 and began the long process of finding a literary agent. In the end I could not find one, but I did receive some good advice from one agent. He suggested I read other science fiction stories to fully understand the genre and to see what was currently selling. Over the falling years I read numerous stories and have written over 180 science fiction book reviews now available on Goodreads.com. Just find a Four or Five Star book review and start reading if you are a fan of the genre.
After many rejection letters, I decided to publish my first story through a Print On Demand or POD publisher. I sold a few copies and started writing my second story called The Formula. I used the same POD house and tried to improve my writing and marketing efforts. I was still writing part-time and learning the business. Although the costs for using a POD publisher at the time were reasonable, around $300, I found the price assigned for a paper copy of the book was uncompetitive in the market place. The royalties per book were also marginal. And digital copies were not selling well at the time. There had to be a better way.
How Times Have Changed:
Starting around 2010, digital publishing or ebooks became the newest way to sell and read books. E-readers in various shapes, sizes and prices are now available by several manufacturers that can read ebooks. Formats vary for each e-reader, but the most common formats are Mobi for Kindle and Epub for Barnes & Noble Press (Nook). Today, digital ebooks account for approximately 25% of all books sold on the marketplace; a 20+ billion dollar U.S. industry.
Several major players selling ebooks online dominate the market today; Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords to mention a few. There are many others that can publish and distribute digital ebooks in any format and genre. Some even offer free ebooks, which serve more as a marketing tool to generate future sales and name recognition for the authors.
What I am proposing for the beginning author today who has a book worth reading and no literary agent is to publish a digital ebook as soon as you are ready. Do not be afraid to give it a try. You will finally become an Author and learn a few things in the process. To encourage you further, I give the following ten (10) reasons why you should consider doing this and become an Indie Author:
1. You will have complete control of every step in the process.
The easiest and most effective ebook publisher on the market today is Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) through Amazon. They will accept a Microsoft Word document and convert it directly to the required Kindle ebook Mobi format. You add a professional Book Cover page, fill in the required Book Details and you are ready to publish. They also offer a KDP Select program that offers special pricing and free ebook promotions during the 90 day exclusive period, but you cannot offer your ebook through any other publishers during this time.
Another good publisher is Barnes & Noble Press for Nook ebooks, which use the Epub format. They also are very easy to use and set up your ebook for self-publishing.
Smashwords offers Epub and several other ebook formats and 16 distribution channels including Libraries. Their How To Publish On Smashwords information is easy to understand and fill out. By uploading a MS Word document only, Smashwords offers the following seven ebook formats for most E-readers:
You can use other ebook publishers as well. There are many and each has a different method of uploading your stories and rules for publishing. Remember to pick a self-publisher that fits your level of expertise and willingness to help you get your ebook published.
2, You can publish immediately.
There is no waiting for your ebook to be published. It can happen within hours or overnight and the ebook is ready for sale. Working through a literary agent and book publisher or Print On Demand (POD) house could take months or longer before your story is told. You have probably waited long enough as it is. Just make sure the final document is as good as you can make it. Spend extra time reviewing and editing if you do not use a copy editor before self-publishing.
3. You set the suggested retail price.
I cannot tell you how important it is to be able to set your suggested retail or selling price and change it as often as needed. You can offer your ebook for whatever you think it is worth. Market sales will determine if you chose wisely. I recommend you introduce your ebook at a low enough price to encourage early sales. You can even offer your ebook for free for a limited time to create market demand. Just make sure your “product” is as good as it can be so as not to disappoint your readers.
4. You pick the countries to sell in.
Each publishing house will allow you to choose which countries to sell your ebook. The final selling price can be determined automatically by setting your U.S. suggested retail price, or you can set the price independently by country. Each online self-publishing service has its own list of distributors by country. Be aware of who they are and choose accordingly.
5. You offer the promotions you want.
With Amazon Kindle Direct Program (KDP), you can determine how to promote your work. I have tried many different promotions to help sell my ebooks. The best methods are to use your social media networks and try using free book services such as BookFunnel and/or Instafreebie to promote interest in your ebooks.
I have found using Press Releases also work well to promote ebooks and get your name and new ebook out in the marketplace. It is not hard to write a Press Release and each service makes it easy to prepare and distribute the release. A good list of PR companies can be found at BookDaily.com under Author Resources/Press Release Distribution. You want to find a PR service that gets your PR quickly on Google and other search engines.
6. You earn maximum royalties.
Unlike POD publishers, you earn maximum royalties using ebook publishing houses. You can receive up to 70% royalties off selling price from Amazon, up to 65% from Barnes & Noble Press and even up to 85% from Smashwords. This even makes it worthwhile to give away some of your work as Gift Copies or Free for promotion purposes since it may be better, cheaper or more effective than using other methods to promote your work.
7. You can make changes any time you need to.
This may be one of the most important benefits of using digital ebook self-publishing houses. You can update or revise your work at any time, free of cost, as many times as needed. Unless you have a good eye for catching spelling and formatting errors, you will find mistakes in most works after you have uploaded the story. Even if you use a word editor or have Beta readers, mistakes are inevitable. You may decide to revise your story months or years later to make it work better with your sequel. It is a very useful feature of digital publishing.
8. You can add cover pages and images as needed.
One of the most important images you will need for your ebook is on your cover page. I have tried making my own cover pages, but the results were not professional enough. The best promotional tool you have is the cover page for your ebook. There are many digital ebook cover designers and the price is usually around a 100 dollars. You should find a good one to design your cover page. You can even try updating your ebooks with new cover pages as time goes by to find one that helps you sell more ebooks.
9. You can assign an ISBN number for each book format.
ISBN numbers are needed to identify and track your books by format. Many ebook self-publishers do not require an ISBN number and will assign their own tracking number. Print On Demand (POD) houses will provide ISBN numbers for you in their pricing. However, I recommend you purchase your own ISBN numbers to distribute and sell your books independently in case you decide to change publishers later. Costs are reasonable, as low as $29 dollars for ebooks and $55 for paper books that also need a Barcode. You will need a separate ISBN for each ebook format. I recommend Publisher Services for reasonable cost and good service.
10. You can copyright your book.
U.S. Copyrights are important to protect your work for legal reasons if you ever need to go to court. Normally, you are copyright protected as soon as you write your book, but I always recommend getting your book copyrighted as soon as you publish, if not before. It is easy to do and only costs $35 for a Single copyright application without cover images. You can register a copyright online at the U.S. Copyright Office.
I hope I made the case for becoming an Indie Author. If you cannot find a literary agent for your story, don’t wait until you feel no one cares about your work. Be proactive and find out what the market wants from you. There will be criticism of your work. Accept it and move on. Start the next story and the one after that. If you like to write, then write and learn from your mistakes. Becoming an Indie Author may be the best move you make. If your story is really good, the market will find it and tell you. And where the market goes, so will the literary agents and traditional publishers. Believe me, they will find YOU and success will follow.
Good luck, Indie Authors. Let me know how it turns out.
The author lives in the Chicagoland area with his family. He attended Michigan State University and earned his MBA at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in Illinois. He recently retired as a product marketing professional in the high tech industry and is pursuing a writing career. He has written eight full-length science fiction stories and two short stories. He has always enjoyed science fiction and plans to continue writing imaginative novels that explore the future boundaries of real science. He is an Indie Author.
Author’s website: Don Viecelli
Revision 2 dated February 2018.
Other Indie Articles:
Key Lessons Learned On How To Become A Successful Indie Author!
Self-Guide To Ebook Publishing - Practical Steps!
I write science fiction stories. I hope you like them.