Who is an Indie Author? (Breaking In)

Writerly Rant #78 ~

gummy bearsBy M.J. Moores.

IĀ  think being an Indie Author is amazing. In fact, until recently I was certain I was one! But ever since I started doing my own publicity and marketing for my debut novel Time’s Tempest, I’ve learned that there’s no hard and fast definition for an Indie Author – and that makes getting the word out kinda difficult.

Okay, so I purposefully decided to publish traditionally and when I couldn’t find an Agent or get in via the Big Houses’ Littler Imprints (who accept unsolicited material), I approached a small publisher just to see what would happen.

They liked the book!

But I haven’t made any money… in fact, I’m in the red.

Now, why didn’t I just self-publish?

I mean, I’m doing nearly all the publicity and marketing (making very few sales at this point) spending money I don’t have and not doing the kinds of publicity I want to because my publishing house upholds that anything connected to my book has to be of the highest quality – so nothing DIY that, well, looks DIY or sounds DIY…

Okay, so I scour the net in search of good deals on a non-existent budget and every time I think I’ve found a new and exciting opportunity it says:

Indie Authors Only

At first I thought that included me… but then I read on –

Self-Published Books Only

Wait. At the sites that are looking for money for their services, surprisingly, I’m considered an Indie Author because my publishing house is, well, small. But on the majority of free publicity sites that get great attention from the SEO bots and Alexa.com with ratings, I’m not – an Indie Author that is…

Heck, even a local Indie Bookstore owner said to me once, “I don’t know why Authors go with small publishers, they’re often no better than Vanity Presses. You can make more money self-publishing.” Needless to say I totally want to interview this woman for an article now as I think she has an interesting perspective.

In a way, she’s right.

No, I didn’t have to ‘pay’ to get my book published.

No, I’m not being scammed.

Yes, I’ve got a great editor who made the book better than it was.

Yes, I get to belong to a Writer’s Community affiliated with the Public School system (something I couldn’t have done self-publishing).

(and) Yes, I do a hell of a lot of my own marketing (they do some press releases, some tweets, try to find reviewers and occasionally help me out with high-quality poster images).

So why do I count as an Indie Author some of the time and not all of the time?

I obviously need just as much help getting my book noticed but because I didn’t pay for my editing and cover art doesn’t mean I’m not still in the hole money-wise.

Okay, so you’ve got no sympathy for me because a “Small Publisher” IS a “Traditional Publisher” and NOT an “Independent Author” – but I say I am Independent. I don’t have a BIG publisher who does s**t for me and gives me a huge book advance. I don’t have an Agent working to get me a movie deal, foreign language rites or an audio book deal.

But while being in the middle has helped me gain the possibility of being an author in the schools, it certainly hasn’t helped me get noticed or sell books.

Now, I have a contract for 4 books and I’m trying to write new material to land an Agent as well as self-publish a cute little novella I started writing in university just to try and get more books in the marketplace in order to stand half-a-chance of getting noticed and earning a little something for my troubles…

I know. You don’t get into writing to make money. That’s why I became a teacher. But guess what. You don’t get to write unless you find the time to write and yeah – sue me – I’d like to make a living doing it.

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Categories: Rants, Writerly Rants

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8 replies

  1. Great piece and a lot of insight. And thank you for naming the importance of making money through writing. Wishing you all the success (and money) you deserve. Just watching this space makes me appreciate how hard you work!

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  2. Thank you for the kind words Gulara šŸ™‚ I hate the myth that authors shouldn’t expect to earn money – that it should only be a passion to follow because you ‘have to’. I love writing so much I want to find a way to make it work as my job… do something you love and never “work” a day in your life – right? I’m glad to have you along on this journey šŸ˜€

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  3. You have a great talent, M. J. and the wisdom to make your writing “work for you”. Time is sometimes all we need to see real success take hold. As you know, I have had several writers on my show (80 shows) and several of them made many of the same comments that you made here in this blog. I’m very happy to tell you that some of them have moved into the kind of life you are dreaming of. It can happen….stick with it and just keep focused on the enjoyment of writing….and the rest will come. You have my best wishes. šŸ™‚

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    • Thanks Tom! You’re very kind and I appreciate your support and honesty šŸ˜€
      I know I’m at the beginning of a very steep climb but sometimes a good rant really helps to put things into perspective – lol šŸ˜‰

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  4. It is a tough world out there and I can feel your pain. You read blogs as to how easy it is to do this or that in marketing but as to making money – the jury is still out. Your post shows the confusion well and everything seems to cost so much. Thank you for your honesty!
    I was doing a talk the other week and a couple were excited to hear about my research because they’d read my latest and enjoyed it – then I explained my ‘half way house’ way of publishing through a cooperative. It was as if I’d switched off a light in their eyes.
    I’m only pleased that the last couple of years I’ve broken even financially. I do love hearing from readers though – often from libraries from which I don’t get a penny – they’re not on the A list of libraries.
    Anyway, you have a future of writing ahead of you … it is early days … enjoy each success as it you’ve won the lottery and you will surely climb – you and me both šŸ™‚

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  5. Will do! Thanks again šŸ˜€

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