Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Pros and Cons of being an Indie Author

I have been reading several posts on Facebook the last few days about the ongoing changes in publishing lately.  It seems that the big players are positioning themselves to grab a bigger piece of the action, while making it more difficult on the little guys: The Indie Author.

We are all aware of how Amazon is the 800 lb gorilla in the room, and there is no escaping the fact that they control the majority of ebook sales.  We all know how Amazon has made it possible for thousands of self-published authors to reach more readers than any other outlet available today, but that all seems to be growing more difficult with each passing day.  Now, I'm not complaining about Amazon's business practices because they are in business to make money just like anyone else. They will do as they see fit to remain successful, and that's just a part of being in business. They never promised us successful writing careers, only a place to offer our books to their large customer base.  However, with the numerous ereader devices available today, readers have more options than ever.

I have thought about all the changes, and I decided to offer my opinion of the Pros and Cons of being self-published.

CONS - As any Indie Author knows, it is a difficult road to travel when you decide to self-publish.  You are not only responsible for every aspect of preparing your book for publication, but you also have to learn how to reach the readers on your own.  I, for one, am amazed at all the different advise out there for Indie Authors on how to become successful, but so far most of it doesn't seem to help the majority of us. We all spend hours promoting our books across the numerous social media outlets, all with the hope of reaching readers who will fall in love with our books.  We give our books away by the thousands through Amazon Select with the hope that just a handful of them will actually be read, and then we wait for the reviews that never seem to come. We panic every time Amazon changes their algorithm, or comes up with a new program; such as Select, Prime, or now, Kindle Unlimited. We collectively hold our breath and pray for the best, while hoping it doesn't kill the little sales we currently enjoy.

PROS - For all the bad, there is even more good when it comes to self-publishing.  WE have the control over our own destiny.  We get to decide the direction we go with our careers, and we get to decide what we write.  I must admit that I once had dreams of being signed with a big publisher. I wanted to have the guarantee of professionals holding my hand and molding me as a writer.  Then, I thought of what that meant, and I realized I'm too set in my ways to hand over control of something that lives inside of me. I have the freedom to choose my cover designs, when I will publish my books, and how I will tell my stories. I don't have to follow some artificial format for the genre I choose to write, or write something because it's the hot trend at the moment.  No one is depending on me for their livelihood, so I don't have to endure the pressure to produce. We have so many options today as Indie Authors. We can create an ebook, upload it, and sell it to anyone who want to enjoy our labor of love.  We can get our books put into paperback or hardback, and even audiobook.  It is quite exciting what we have available to us today. We all have the freedom to write for the LOVE OF WRITING, which hopefully allows us to grow into better writers over time.

I recently came across a very interesting blog post on UP where they give some interesting stats on how readers buy books.  Here are a few things that jumped out at me -

Statistic: Do readers prefer eBooks or printed books? (Source: Wall Street Journal)

6% of people read only eBooks.

46% of people read only printed books.

48% of people read both eBooks and printed books. (Of those, 33% read more printed books or at least as much printed as they do eBooks.)

Lesson: If you have low eBook sales, then maybe it’s because readers prefer printed books.

Statistics = Reality. You may or may not like the results of these statistics, but your success depends on adapting to the reality of what readers are actually doing.

Go to the Blog post to read more interesting information.
 As authors, we need to decide what drives us to write our books.  Do we write for wealth and fame, or do we write because we have stories inside of us, begging to be told? While I wouldn't mind to earn some wealth from my writing, I understand the chance is greater than not that I will never see my bank account over-flowing with royalty payments. Therefore, I will continue to write because the voices in my head have stories to tell, but more importantly because it makes me happy.