Monday, January 2, 2012

Indie Publishing: In Through the Back Door

A few posts back, I blogged about how readers are the new Gatekeepers in the publishing industry. Seems like I created a bit of a stir and there were tweets going back and forth, along with several other bloggers who took that thought and ran with it, some agreeing (thanks Kendall) while others respectfully disagreed and said that we still needed the professional Gatekeepers (i.e. editors and agents). That argument aside, guess who’s using the Reader Gatekeepers now? Editors and agents. Go figure.

I have several indie published friends who’ve sold so well doing it themselves that they are being approached by agents and editors to come back to the mothership. And just how are the editors and agents finding them? I’ll let you in on a little secret. There was a post on the Kindle boards that asked this very question and received a very interesting answer, one that many of us have suspected for some time. Agents and editors are being alerted to any best selling indie published books and it looks like 10,000 is the magic number folks. Yep, sell 10K on one or more indie books and you too may find you have an editor or agent knocking at your door.

When this call comes, many authors are leaving the indie world behind and taking these offers. The reason why might be obvious to some. After all, isn’t it every author’s dream to be traditionally published? Perhaps. But you might be surprised at the main reason some authors are giving for joining Team NY. Self-publishing poster child Amanda Hocking is probably the best example. She accepted a huge deal from St. Martins after taking the indie world by storm. Her reason? She was tired of doing all the work herself. For an indie author, writing the book is only part of the job. You also have to format the book, design the cover, get the reviews, do all the promo…the list goes on. It’s a lot of time consuming hard work. And some authors are willing to give up a piece of the profits in order to let someone else do most of that for them. Another reason? By going traditional, your books will be available in the brick and mortar stores, although with the popularity of e-books on the rise and rapidly taking over a big chunk of the market share, this dangling carrot is not as appealing as it used to be.

But other authors who are getting these calls are struggling with what to do. Now that they’ve had a taste of what having total control over their creative product is like, do they really want to give up the ability to write what they want, how they want? The flexibility to change the price as the market fluxuates? The power to bring their vision of what the cover art should be to life? The money, because to be traditionally published, many will be selling more books, but making less as far as royalties go. Those are a few of the reasons why some are saying, No thanks.

Regardless of which way an indie author chooses to go, it’s interesting how the business is turning on its head. Those we used to kiss up to, praying they would buy our books, are now courting the very ones that got away.


  1. I think you're right -- it's not so much that everyone 'dreams' of being trad published so much that it arguably allows more time for WRITING when you're trad published, or possibly even small press published. And you also get to blame your agent and/or publisher if you do everything you're asked and everything you can think of and it STILL doesn't turn out all that great :).

  2. Call me stupid and short-sighted, but if I sold 10K copies of my indie published book, and an agent or editor came knocking on my door, I'd still give 'em the finger. I've heard too many stories about authors losing creative freedom by signing the dotted line. If you can't write what you want to write, how is it any better to have people doing all the support work on a book you hate?

    Yes, indie pubbing requires a lot of work, time, and money. But it's under MY control. I can hand-pick people to do the stuff I'm not good at, and if they don't do what I want/live up to my expectations, I can fire them.

    Control freak much? Yep. Sure do. But I'm much happier doing it my way than someone else's.

  3. I agree with Kendall - I'm not sure I would go with a traditional publisher if I could sell 10k on my own. They would have to come with a great deal, but I would want to keep my ebook rights.