Indie authors get it from all sides. We’re not considered as prestigious as agented authors, but still have to go through the rigors of submitting and working with publishers. When I say indie author, I am speaking of authors who write works and publish with independent companies and small presses.
Self-published authors are part of the indie market, because they are on their own, but since this route is so broad I’m sticking with speaking of authors who submit to publishers and get deals without having to obtain an agent.
This was the option that best appealed to me in the beginning. I find that it is a compromising position at times, but very rewarding. Some people can self-publish and do it right. Outside editing is always needed, and marketing is a bitch by yourself, but if you have a knack for it you can get ahead.
The best indie presses are the ones that publish AND market your work. But the extent of those criteria often varies. “Indie publishers” who ask for money up front are really vanity presses and don’t generally care about your content, they just want to get paid. (I don’t recommend them)
A step above this are the independent publishers that offer a contract based on royalties and no advance. Basically they cover the costs to produce your book, but that’s it. Once you order your stock, the rest is up to you. Social media has made this more successful, but some of the fees to attend book events and conventions can get costly and leave you at a deficit.
The next step are small presses that give a bit more care to the process. They produce the material and work to market your book with what resources they have. This is helpful and encouraging.
But never forget: Not all publishers are created equal.
Check credentials. Look at their new releases and see how they rank on amazon, that will tell you a lot. Count reviews. Reviews sell books, publishers need to keep a working relationship with a large number of reviewers to help spread the word once a book is out and ready to greet readers.
Look up the editor and cover artist. Make sure that they have the experience and styles that best fit your work. The deeper you get into publishing the better you can dig and figure out what works for you.
I’ve worked my way up. Though I never talk about it, I did self-publish a children’s book as a joke and sell a few copies. It was more something funny for my firstborn. Then I got a deal with a publisher who got my 1st physical children’s book out. Beyond that I started working with publishers that care about editing and marketing within the boundaries of their time constraints and limited resources.
I have reached a point where I have started looking into finding representation for my works. There is only so far you can go on your own. Each deal has been like a stepping stone and getting further ahead to reach the broadest audience possible is my goal.
Being realistic is hard to do because things move slow in the publishing world and then out of nowhere breaks come. It seems random even if it’s a result of years of work.
My favorite part of being an indie author is the community. Indie authors are the warmest most caring colleagues. Some days I feel like I’ll never reach enough readers, and I probably won’t. But the point is to keep at it. Reach who you can, connect with those who listen.
I may never get where I want to be, but that will never keep me from writing and sharing my work.