What is an indie author
Indie authors are writers who publish their work without the help of an established press. They can often be called self-publishers, they're in charge of the editing, producing, distributing and marketing of all the books they write.
Independently published authors are not indie authors, but writers that have dealt with small or medium sized traditional publishing houses. Not to be confused with indie authors.
Advantages and Disadvantages of being an indie author:
The Advantages of being an indie author
1. Complete artistic control
Traditionally published authors don't have the luxury of having control over content and design, instead this has been imposed on them. Making many traditionally published authors turn to the indie route for publishing, allowing them to choose how their book looks and feels. Indie authors can do any number of changes to their books if they so choose. Things such as: changing a book cover, choosing a different title, both of these things can be done by simply uploading a new file.
Giving the indie author the chance to grow naturally through their mistakes.
The traditional publishing process can be a brutal path to take, because all of the decisions made lie in the hands of the publishing house.
Once your publishing contract has been signed your book is in the hands of the publishing house to do as they please, leaving all control to the publishing house. Your book is in their hands to do as they please.
In contrast indie authors hold total autonomy, controlling every step of the process. Indie authors can learn as they go along, choose to work with professionals, and connect with their customers.
All of these positives can help drive indie authors forward, instead of waiting on the side lines for something they have no control over.
3. Quicker publishing time
After you've spent time editing and writing your book, you can upload your files to any independent platform (such as Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Draft2Digital etc). Your book can be published within 72 hours. You're usually paid 60 days after the end month of your book sales.
Again with print on demand the publishing is pretty fast, up within 24 hours after approval. And you can order a copy and have it delivered within a couple of weeks.
4. Bigger royalties
Traditional publishing royalties can be between 7-25%, or usually around the 10% mark. On the other hand, publish your book on Amazon and expect 70% royalty if you sell your book between $2.99 and $9.99. Which means if you self-publish your book you don't need to be making such high sales.
Self-publishing is definitely not a get rich quick scheme, something that will make you a millionaire overnight. Even though you have full autonomy over the process, you don't have the money of a big publishing house to provide the marketing campaign you always dreamed of.
It doesn't matter what route you choose, all authors have to learn their craft, and this takes time.
5. Use any method to sell your books across the globe, and you keep the rights
With Amazon publishing you have the opportunity to sell your books on all of their stores across the world, except China.
It's also worth noting that English is the most international language, so you don't need to worry about your book not selling in that country just because it's English.
Access to the internet is being made more and more widely available all over the world. People from the remotest corners of the world are wanting to read new things everyday. And your book could be one of them.
6. Don't worry if your book is in a niche subject
Major publishers may not like books to be too niche. Don't worry, as an indie author your audience size might just be enough to satisfy your meaning of success. And your particular niche might appeal to a special kind of reader willing to pay your price.
7. Make it a stepping stone to get into the traditional publishing industry
If you end up doing really well as a self-published author, chances are publishing houses will come to you. With evidence of sales and followers, you hold all the right cards to get a much better publishing deal.
So keep up the good work, and keep pushing until publisher's coming knocking on your door.
The Disadvantages of being an indie author
1. It's all or nothing, do it all yourself or bring in the professionals
As I mentioned earlier part of the learning process of indie publishing is doing it all yourself. Finding your editor, cover designer, choosing your book title, then finding a platform to publish your book on.
If you want to go down the professional indie publishing route you need to do all this and more.
A lot of people don't have the time to fit all of these important points into their schedule. That's why traditional publishing may be their only option.
2. Acclaim, glory and fame doesn't exist in the industry
If your interpretation of success is wrapped up in what other publishers, authors and agents say then indie definitely isn't for you.
If you write for your readers, then it's right up your street.
3. If you want a professional result you need to money to invest in your writing
Somewhere along the line in your writing career you're going to need to spend money on courses, books, or a professional editor. That's what most people do when they want to make money out of something they're passionate about.
Even if you're just starting out in your writing career, at some point you will need a budget in readiness before you take the plunge of going pro indie.
4. It can be challenging to get print distribution in most bookstores
These days it's not impossible to get your independently published book on a bookstore shelf. One of the advantages of printing your book through Amazon Kindle is the option of expanded distribution. This allows your book to be available to other online retailers, as well as bookstores, libraries and academic institutions.
The days of only getting bookstore distribution via a traditional publishing house are slowly disappearing. The skies the limit with indie publishing.
5. These days most literary prizes, critics and mainstream media won't review indie books
If you're looking for critical and literary acclaim, then the traditional route is the one for you. But things are changing, and indie authors' books are being read by a wider audience every year, so anything can happen.
The combination approach
Because the industry is changing so quickly, many authors will make their decisions by rights or book series, using the indie model for some and the traditional route for other things. Careers are no longer built on just one book.
The essential thing is that the creator has total autonomy over their work, and it no longer lies in the hands of a traditional publishing house.