I’ve noticed the old traditional vs indie publishing debate is swirling around Twitter again, so I thought I’d add my thoughts to it, as someone who chose indie publishing, and explain why I did.
I think writers are generally neurotic people, and when it comes to publishing, we fall into two camps of anxiety:
- First, and most common, are the ‘I Just Want To Write’ group. The idea of marketing, advertising, planning, and selling fills them with dread. They’d much prefer to put those things in someone else’s hands so they can focus entirely on writing the actual stories.
- Second, you have the Control Freaks. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m in this group. These are the ones who are filled with dread at the idea that they aren’t in total control of their book. They want to run everything, from the launch campaign to the sales to collaborations and everything in between.
Simply put, if you fall into the first group, traditional publishing is the one for you. If you’re a group two, like me, you’ll probably prefer indie, or at least working with an indie press who’ll give you a big say in it.
Beyond this, though, you also have to consider what you want from publishing. I can’t answer that for you because we’re all different, but I can tell you my priorities:
- Write a book that people enjoy. I think that’s on everyone’s list. I want to know people have enjoyed it.
- I don’t care about being on shelves. Some people really want to see their book in a library or bookshop, which is much easier to achieve if you go traditional. This wasn’t a priority for me.
- Bestseller. I don’t care about being a bestseller. I don’t really care about sales numbers, honestly. If I can build a small group of people who genuinely love my writing and maybe even want to come back for more, that is my ideal result. I don’t want to be a big writer who everyone talks about.
- Freedom. I want the freedom to write whatever I want. At the end of the day I’m doing this to satisfy myself, anything else comes secondary. Being indie, I know that whatever I’m working on will eventually get published if I want it to be, which lets me work on things differently. For example, The Shield Road, the book I published a month ago, is a collection of short stories. I really doubt it would have been picked up by an agent or publisher because that’s not a format that tends to sell well – but as an indie, that wasn’t something I had to consider.
- Royalties. As an indie publisher, you keep a much bigger percentage of the money from each sale. For me, this means I have to make fewer sales before I make a decent amount of money from this, which fits into my ‘I don’t want to be a big author’ goal.
With these objectives, it makes total sense for me to be publishing indie. Indie isn’t the loser’s track, as some people seem to think it is – the place authors go if they can’t find traditional representation. It’s an entirely different model that serves different ambitions. And it works for me.
No blog post is complete without a shameless self-promo, so here’s mine: my first book, The Shield Road, is a collection of 14 interconnected short stories that ultimately build toward an overarching plot. It has a thief, a princess-turned-assassin, grumpy women warriors, and a Bladekin. You can find more details here.