5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why I Chose Indie Publishing

Indie Author Liz Long shares why she chose to go Indie.

Why I Chose Indie Publishing

After what equated to at least two years of hard work on my novel, I sent out several (and I won’t say how many, but I mean several) query letters to agents. While I had a few “very interesting concept” type replies, most emails back, as expected, were straight rejections, without any sort of feedback. Without any other novels to back my name and a uniquely built world that doesn’t really fit into any mainstream concept, I knew it would be tough to get my book into any Big 6 hands. I would have to convince these agents that my work should be plucked out of thousands of other submissions and while I believe(d) to the depths of my soul that I had something good, I also needed to be realistic.

You also know when you submit that you’re serving your work on a platter to editors. Even with a great original story, they want to mold it into a marketable book, something that will fit into mainstream shelves, which means an author may actually have to seriously rewrite their work. I knew going in that I’d have a hard time doing that—not saying I wouldn’t do it if required, but of course to me, every scene fits into the fast paced writing I’ve worked so hard at for years. I wasn’t super crazy about the idea of changing my character’s age or adding in a vampire just because it’s popular. I’ve also heard horror stories of authors finally getting an agent and submitting their works to big names, only to hear back a year later that they missed their chance, that the market is already over-saturated with their type of story and despite the trials and negotiations, their hard work is now a moot point. If I went through a year of excitement, thinking I’d be published, and then suddenly it’s ripped away, I’d be a mess for a long while.

That’s when indie publishing came into play. By self-publishing, I would have immediate opportunities I might not get elsewhere. With indie publishing, I’m in control of everything. Not just writing the novel, but the marketing, sales, networking, blog posts, cover design and layout, editing, book formatting…you name it, you’re in charge of it.

For a control freak like me, it was like a light-bulb went off over my head. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t looked into it sooner. I’ve never backed down from a challenge and I’ve certainly made my rounds of shameless self-promotion (I’ve always been a headstrong entrepreneur). The actual acts of doing it all myself didn’t scare me like it might others. It actually kind of pushed me even further into the decision to independently publish. I liked the fact I could control my cover, my story, my characters, without anyone else telling me I needed to change things to “better fit the market.”

As I’ve said before, I’m not a writer to make money. I don’t need a movie deal or to be whisked away to New York for fancy meetings. I want to write. I want to put out books that entertain and allow for an escape from reality. And debut novel or not, I believe in my story so much that I’m willing to do the work myself. I don’t care if it never this #1 on Amazon rankings or makes a million bucks (won’t say no to either of those things)—I just wanted to do something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid: hold a book in my hands with my name on it. If I ever had any doubts about indie publishing before, it was scrapped when I finally had a copy of my book on my shelf.

It could stop selling tomorrow, but you know what? I did it. Another benefit to indie publishing is the immense satisfaction--every single review you get, every interview question you answer, every tweet you reply to, every word you write, is because you did the hard work yourself. You were brave enough to say,

“Let’s do this. I believe in me.”

- Liz Long -


About the Author

Liz Long on Indie Author News
Liz Long has been writing fantasy stories since she could spell the word "unicorn" (second grade). She fears a zombie apocalypse, though admits it would give her a good reason to stay inside and write as long as she wanted. She is a proud graduate of Longwood University with a degree in English.

Liz lives in Roanoke, VA with her husband Jason and their Jack Russell terror, Fisher.

Liz Long has just released the YA/Paranormal/Fantasy Novel Gifted. See the New Release Article here on Indie Author News

Please, leave some comments or questions for the Author at the end of this post!

Connect with Liz Long on Twitter: @LizCLong


Anonymous said...

Congrats and good luck :)
Mike C

Carolyn said...

Congratulations! I loved this article. I am (self) published through a wonderful publisher Avid Readers Publishing Group that is an amazing publishing Company that works with the author for a small fee. I did it for all the reasons you have mentioned here! I also love the support from our fellow writers who have gone the Indie route, who are blogging, networking, and reaching out to each other with creativity and a bond that is ever growing. I love being in control of my writing world and would not give that up for anything. Thank you for this article!

Dale Ivan Smith said...

Well said. I choose to go indie because I wanted to be the drivers seat, and also because my serial novels would be a very tough sell to traditional publishers. I'm excited about them and want to reach readers directly. Indie lets me do that.

You are also right about the time factor involved in submitting to traditional publishers--I have several friends who have been playing the query-go-round for quite some time without success, including waiting for a year or two while a publisher "considers" their submission, only to be turned down in the end.

Best of luck in all your writings!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much! I really appreciate it. Out of everything I've learned so far from self publishing, the networking, the bond as you mentioned, is so important to me. I LOVE being able to connect with others! We're a lucky group :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, and to you as well! Thanks to indie publishing, I just don't see any reason to wait around (provided you've done your work and research beforehand, of course) and I'm always so proud of not only my hard work, but everyone else's too! Thanks so much for reading :)

Anonymous said...

I admire your determination, Liz. The process of self-publishing is not for the faint hearted, but I agree that maintaining creative control of your art is all important. The books put out by the big 6 are too often driven by marketability and profitability rather than the artistic vision of the artist. I write a blog, Off the Grid Authors and Artists, to celebrate work like yours. I wish you continued success with your work.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much, Mary! I feel very lucky to be able to have control over my book the way I do and part of the reason I'm able to do that is because of bloggers like you. If I can ever help you with anything, I'm happy to help! :) Thanks again!

Patricia JL said...

Everything you said are reasons I chose to publish my book myself. I cringed at the idea of having to change my story just for the sake of the market and I loved the idea of being in control of everything. Vampires were also the reason I chose to do it myself. There were too many books with vampires and I saw a lot of agents saying 'No vampires'. I knew my vampire book would get passed over because at the time, it's not what publishers were looking for.

Anonymous said...

Understandable-when the agents believe a market is oversaturated, I get it, but that doesn't always mean your book is like all the others. As long as it has a unique story, I think it could find its place in the bookshelves. Good luck and thanks for your readership/comment!! :)

Toby Tate said...

While I understand why people self-publish, I think there is a misunderstanding about what authors have to "give up." I got a deal with an indie mass-market publisher after a year of searching and did it without an agent, though I did query about 75 agents. And this is my second published book.

The publisher hasn't really asked me to do anything that I felt didn't made the story better and so far it's been a great experience. Their editors are top-notch. Plus, as an established publishing house, they have access to marketing tools and an audience that I couldn't even come close to as a self-published author. The only thing I've had to spend is time writing my books and sending out query letters. All they ask in return is the right to publish my book and to keep some of the profits. Since they're paying for everything, including my advance, I can live with that.

But I can understand wanting to keep complete creative control - it's your baby and it can be nerve-wracking when you hand it over to someone else!

Anonymous said...

Hi Toby! I'm by no means bashing traditional publishing--if you get a deal, congratulations and run with it! I'm glad to hear you've had such a good experience and I know several authors who also have fantastic editors and the like. I just love the idea of indie publishing and the driving force behind it. Plus, I love that it doesn't have the bad rap it used to (well, at least it's trying...!) Thanks so much for reading and best of luck to you!!

Doug Dandridge said...

Great post. I just sent off ten queries a couple of weeks ago and have gotten back six no thanks, not for me's and one we'll try to get a look in the next two months. Those kind of replies used to devastate me, and I'm positive they didn't give my submission the careful consideration they say they did. In fact, if they looked over more than the first paragraph I would be shocked. And while I still intend to send that novel (and seven more sitting on my hard drives) to the other forty agents on my list as well as this first group, now I just tell myself I'll publish them myself if they're passed on by the expert gatekeepers. Takes some of the sting from the rejections. And like you Liz, I may never make a million dollars on my writing (or I might, there is always the possibility). But I am writing, putting my work out there, and always learning new things about the self pub marketplace. Thanks for your encouraging article.

Anonymous said...

Hi Doug! Thanks for reading. I often felt the same way about the rejection letters, wondering if they even got past the first two sentences! I agree that knowing you can save indie publishing as a "just in case" takes the sting out of rejections--and thankfully nowadays, it doesn't necessarily mean we're not good! Best of luck to you and hope to see you on the Amazon charts! :)

callmebecks said...

If I went through a year of excitement, thinking I’d be published, and then suddenly it’s ripped away, I’d be a mess for a long while.

I did this - this whole process - and I can tell you: it's super-rough. I didn't write for a few years afterward. Some people could probably bounce back quicker, but I was not one of them. :)

I think it's awesome what you're doing, taking the bull by the horns. I just purchased Gifted, and it looks great! I can't wait to read it!

Claire Ridgway said...

Hi Liz,
Congratulations on the publication of your book. It is such an amazing feeling, isn't it, to hold your book and then also to know that your book is being read by people?

I too love the control of self-publishing. I am a complete control freak so to have control over the cover, formatting, editing, price, marketing etc. suits me down to the ground. It's an amazing journey.

Julie W said...

You took the words right out of my mouth! good article!

Anonymous said...

I probably wound up on your blog months ago and somehow read that, actually. Those nightmare stories stuck with me! I wouldn't be able to bounce back myself. I'd take it too personally.
Thank you so much for grabbing a copy! I hope you enjoy it :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Claire! And yes, it is DEFINITELY an amazing feeling! Kind of surreal, honestly.
I'm so glad to hear of others making the journey and enjoying it as much as I am. I still have a lot to learn, but it's always exciting to see where self-publishing might take us nowadays!

hitokirihoshi said...

Your story inspired me and rekindle my idea before. I just need to bring back all that i let go and study new things to publish my own book.

keep it up!

ELAdams said...

Great post, and a reminder of all the reasons why I want to self-publish my next book! I hate the waiting game, and the idea of my work being in someone else's hands really unsettles me. I'm publishing my first book with a small press which allow the author more or less complete control of their work, but I've decided to go indie for my next series. The primary reason is the subject matter; arguably there are too many books featuring demons/ other supernatural beings out there, and it's extremely difficult for an author to come up with a startlingly original concept that might catch a publisher's eye. I want to write books and I want people to read them, without the hassle and heartbreak of the never-ending submissions.

Thanks for your inspiring post! :)

Unknown said...

I'm reading Gifted: A Donovan Circus Novel now and it's a lot of fun. I'm glad Liz Long self-published, because I was able to buy an affordable paperback version. I'm a voracious reader but can't always afford $14.99+ for a print copy.

Thomas Appleby said...

I had went down the query letter route, same old blah, decided to invest finally going down the self publishing route, with Xliblis. So far so good, book published 31/8, already on shelves on Amazon, barnes and noble, Kobo amonsgt others, it's early days, it is selling, friends and word of mouth, there are ups and downs, mistakes here or there, but I would recommend it, the freedom of choice etc, and I enjoy the self promotion side of it, always thinking of new ways to keep the campaign going ad wise, any tips would be gratefully recieved!!! LIFE IN THE HARSH LANE by Thomas Appleby

Anonymous said...

Thank you! "I want to write books and I want people to read them, without the hassle and heartbreak of the never-ending submissions." This is EXACTLY the perfect statement. I'm not in it to send out 50 submissions a day. I'm in it to put out something I'm proud of that people can enjoy and preferably at a reasonable cost to them. I wish you the very best of luck and I really appreciate your comment!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! <3 Another reason I really love self-publishing--I like naming my own price, which I would always want to keep as affordable as possible for readers like me, who can't spend $15 on an e-book but want to give new writers a chance. On a more personal note, I am SO glad you're enjoying Gifted!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reading! I'm glad you're enjoying your path to self-publishing as much as I am. I love the freedom of choice to do what we want with our work! Best of luck to you, Thomas.

Unknown said...

Brilliant article. well done. I was sick of being told by publishers, I needed an agent to submit my work to them , and agents who wouldn't submit my work as I have no proven history of sales.............duh! How do you get sales without having someone publish your work?

James R. Tuck said...

You seem like a nice gal and your book looks like a good idea. This was a pretty good article except for the supposition you made about what an author has to give up.

No editor at a major publisher would ask you to put a vampire in your superhero book. That's not what they do. They might pass on your book. They might ask if you have a "such and such" book, but they aren't in the business of radically changing manuscripts. They don't have to. There are hundreds of authors every day trying to get published with exactly what they want. Radically changing a manuscript is a waste of time and resources.

You aren't bashing traditional publishing but you did admit that you moved to indie publishing out of fear and I just want other writers out there to know that fear is unfounded.

I wrote a dark urban fantasy with a male protagonist, no romance, and a lot of blood, violence, and cursing. It sold in a 3 book deal to Kensington without an agent. (The Deacon Chalk series)
It is completely against the grain of what is "normal" in urban fantasy. It has vampires in it even though they are "over". And what was I asked to change about it to make it marketable?
Nothing. Not one single word. (other than copyedits lol)

And I have no problem with indie publishing. I have done it and have two other releases on schedule to indie publish at the end of the year. Some of my best pals are indie published and doing well.

But traditional publishing isn't anything to be afraid of.

Good luck to you, seriously.

Anonymous said...

I AM a nice gal, which is why I hope my response won't be taking as too defensive, but. I think you misunderstand my exaggeration to make the point on agents wanting to change parts in an author's completed manuscript. In addition, as like you, I'm friends with many indie authors and when several of them told me their query adventures, they actually did get strong requests for big changes as I mentioned. You make a good point by saying that there are other authors wanting to be published with what people want, but sometimes, editors want to tweak, for better or worse. I've worked in book publishing and now in magazines, so for what it's worth, I do understand how some of the process works.
I'm not at all bashing traditional publishing, but at the same time, I didn't self publish out of fear. I had reservations, sure, but I still went through with the initial process as planned. It was only when self publishing as a viable option became my main interest, the choice I knew I wanted even before hearing back from different ages. Would I be open to the right agent and publishing company? Of course, as would any indie. But it wasn't a decision I made out of fear. I'm proud to be an indie and have always felt comfortable with the final results.
Thanks for reading and best of luck in all you do and write!

Charles Miske said...

That's it! I'm a control freak too. No wonder I've embraced self-publishing. Thanks for the fun article.

Unknown said...

Isn't it funny how publishers profess to needing writers with originality and then they reject work because it's different from what's 'in' at the moment. How can we win?

Charlotte Gerber said...

Wonderful article. I too have embraced self-publishing. I've heard so many horror stories about traditional publishing taking forever, endless rejection letters and editors who want to completely change a writer's story. It is the writer's story, however, and if they are brave enough they should jump into self publishing. With ebook sales soaring, there is no better time than now. It is easier than most authors think!

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