Indie Authors Vs The Mainstream Publishers
In the publishing industry there is an ongoing trend toward authors publishing their own material, rather than going through mainstream publishers. There are any number of reasons why they might do this:
- The author retains full control over the production of the book.
- Depending on how the book is printed, the author may have a lot more control over the pricing.
- The author can decide which services to make the book available through.
- Indy authors are not tied into contracts with particular agents, publishing houses, or printers.
- If a service the author uses fails them, they can switch to another service.
By taking on the role of an independent author, there are a lot of risks too:
- The author has to spend a lot of their potential writing time on tasks normally handled by their agents/publishers.
- if the author prices a book too low at release, they may lose money. If they price it too high, they may lose sales, and be forced to reduce the book to a ‘sale price’.
- The author needs to pay very particular care to keep up on the terms and conditions of use for any services they use.
- By not being on a contract with a publisher, agent, or printer the author may not earn as much on a book because they cannot push the sales volume that a huge advertising campaign can generate
- Service failures happen, and it is up to the author to fix them. Depending on the service they use this could require a lot of time on emails, phone calls, or even personal visits.
How can you help?
As readers, and fellow authors, we have a lot of ways we can support the independent writers out there. The best part of it is, that a lot of us are already doing many of these things for the mainstream authors, without even realizing it.
- Buy the books. Read them. Don’t support piracy.
By purchasing the books, we help the authors sales, boost their rankings on the various book charts, and help get their work noticed more by others. A lot of the online sites have a feature that suggests books similar to those you have already purchased. These suggestions come from sales numbers of books in the same fields as the one you just bought.
- Rate and review. Write honest reviews on your favorite platforms.
By reviewing the book, you let others know that you have read it. You also help give them an idea of what you thought of the book. Keeping these reviews honest lets the authors know what you think of their writing. It is one of the main concepts of the writer that they are writing the best books they can. Unless the indy author hires a professional editor, and a dedicated group of beta readers, these reviews could be the only time they find out if something in the book didn’t work for particular readers. It will also give them insights into what actually works for their readers too. Imagine finding out that people want to know more about your secondary characters, when you previously had little intention of ever writing about them again.
Independent authors are far more reliant on reviews than the mainstream writers. When you go through a publisher, or agent, there is a good chance they have the contacts to get reviews written before the book even releases to the public. Have you ever looked at the front of a book, and seen comments from other famous authors and magazines? Those are often either paid for reviews, or reviews written on the understanding that the author of the book in your hands will write a review in return. Independent writers don’t always have the luxury of getting big name authors to produce reviews for them.
- Follow them. Join their fan pages and get involved. Participate.
Independent authors are very aware that their success relies on their readers, and often go to great lengths to keep in touch with those readers. By joining their fan pages you get a chance to find out about any video blogs they might do, free giveaways, competitions, or special interest groups they support. You can also connect with other readers who enjoy the same kind of books and stories that you do.
Writers are not immune to the lure of a good book, movie or other source of entertainment. When we interact with our readers, we find out what those readers like, and can work toward producing material that better suits their tastes. This isn’t always an option for writers under contract with the mainstream publishers.
- Spread the word. Share links and news, and tell your friends about them.
Now here’s the most important part, getting the word out to friends, family, your blog readers, anyone else you can think of. Indie authors very rarely have the budget to produce massive marketing campaigns, so what do they do? They very wisely fall back on doing what advertising they can afford, in the hopes that they can get some initial interest in their work. Then they let word of mouth, and their fans take up some of the work of marketing the material.
can you make a difference?
I recently took part in a campaign to advertise “The Light Who Shines” (review here) by the talented Lilo Abernathy, and posted on Twitter, Facebook, and even in my blog (entry here). Lilo had been given the opportunity for her book to be features in the Kindle Daily Deals, and wanted to let people know that it was available at reduced pricing. She reached out to online writing groups she belonged to, readers who belonged to some of the same interest groups, and her friends. Having already produced several pieces of advertising for the event, people were able to take those links and photos, post to their own groups and friends, and help push the sales. The books ranking rose a staggering 6600 places in the Amazon rankings, and produced over 1100 sales. Admittedly, those sales were at the reduced pricing. But that’s 1100 new potential readers in the course of one day.
If that’s not making a difference, I don’t know what is!