Why I’m Indie Publishing (for now)

   Posted by: Moses Siregar III   in Marketing, Publishing

1999. My late Uncle Mike (RIP) tells me, “You should put your business on the internet. That’s where everything is headed.”

Really? I thought. Well, Mike’s a business man, a true Capricorn. Maybe he knows what he’s talking about. Okay, why not, I’ll give it a try.

(thanks Uncle Mike)

Fast forward to 2010. My thought is that ebooks in 2010 = the internet in 1999, at least for authors. We can now get royalties of 70% on Amazon with ebooks. You can get into BN.com, the iBookstore, and other top retail websites. Ereading devices are cheaper, better, and more prolific every day. Bookstores and publishing companies are going to struggle, and more and more book commerce will take place online. You can get your book in the biggest book seller on earth, in the exact same place as all of the big boys.

Now I’ve got two major options. One is to take a long road as an indie writer and build up a backlist and readership over the course of many years, hoping that some day enough people will discover and appreciate my work enough to be able to make a decent income telling stories.

The other option is still a valid one. It’s to take the long road to publication with major publishers and take advantage of all of the considerable benefits along the way.

If you really want to roll the dice and see if you can go big, traditional publishing still makes the most sense. If you want more control of your career and you’re patient enough to build it over the course of five or ten years, then self-publishing actually makes sense for the first time in the modern era. But being an indie is not for everyone. Here are some of the reasons why it makes sense for me.

  1. I love doing things on my own. Websites, promotion, design, and more. I love it. When I was in college, I started a magazine and managed almost every job myself, learning the ropes along the way. Before I was done, we had a circulation of 13,000 in Athens, GA and a nice-looking, respectable tabloid. I’ll certainly hire some professionals when I need their help (for example, copyediting), but I enjoy learning skills that allow me to be independent.
  2. I love being in business for myself and have almost always operated in this way.
  3. I enjoy controlling every aspect of my business for various reasons.
  4. I have some platform already. For example, my previous business has an opt-in email list with 15,000 subscribers.
  5. I like setting the schedule for everything, including release dates.

However, I’m not closed to traditional publishing. I’ve worked with editors on my magazine articles before and it’s something I’m fine with. I love the idea of getting my books reviewed by more sources and getting professional cover design, layout, and marketing. Traditional publishing makes it easier to get in print all around the world. Traditional publishing still offers great exposure and lots of perks.

I’m still not sure if my first full novel will be published as an indie novel or with a major publisher (my first release on Amazon is a novella). I lean towards doing it myself, with a release date of May, 2011, but I’m still open to the right publishing house and contract if the deal is really good. I’m still deciding if I even want to submit it to any publishing houses or agents.

What’s amazing is that you have options now. If traditional publishing isn’t working for you, you can roll up your sleeves, publish your own ebooks and print-on-demand books through CreateSpace or Lightning Source, and get to work. Obviously your work will need to be edited, copyedited, and proofread by capable people.

Either way you go, it won’t be easy. But that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?

UPDATE: Here’s another point of view from the comments below: An excellent post from A.P. Fuchs about Why Traditional Publishers and Agents are Still Important.


This post is my entry in Chris Kelly’s indie publishing blog carnival on his Dun Scaith blog.


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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 19th, 2010 at 11:04 am and is filed under Marketing, Publishing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

25 comments so far


I agree with your post. I’m still submitting to major publishers for some of my books, and others I’m self-publishing along the way. I do everything on my own from graphic design, pr, marketing etc- but outsource editing/proofreading services- saps my creativity and drive so I’d rather pay someone to do those. 😉 Continued blessings on all that you do.

August 19th, 2010 at 11:14 am

Yep, the choices are there and that’s great. There’s more than one route and something to suit everyone. They all involve hard work but success is relative. It depends on what we’re aiming for. It’s a great time for writers though.
Claire Farrell recently posted..To Be An Indie – Blog Carnival

August 19th, 2010 at 11:36 am

Great Post! I’ve heard so much BS from NY pubbed authors about crap they have to deal with on the midlist, that I’m so glad I decided to go indie.

August 19th, 2010 at 11:44 am

I’m an indie author and publisher by profession, but traditional publishing is still important these days and isn’t out of the picture yet. It all comes down to your personal plan as an author and what your goals are. Can you do this on your own or do you need some help? I blogged about it last night. Feel free to weigh in. http://canisterx.com/?p=1955
A.P. Fuchs recently posted..Why Traditional Publishers and Agents are Still Important

August 19th, 2010 at 11:45 am
Moses Siregar III

Thanks kd, Claire, Zoe.

Outstanding post, A.P. I’ve appreciated your comments at Joe’s blog about Lightning Source and CreateSpace. I’m going to add your link to this post.

August 19th, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Thanks. Glad to help.

August 19th, 2010 at 2:15 pm

A.P.— I just read your post, will comment on it, but also looking for the lightning source /create space post Moses commented on. I know alot of self-publishers think they are the publisher when they go through places like ‘lulu or authorhouse, but are not. I dont’ know about create space, but I have worked with lightning source.

August 19th, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Createspace is like Lulu in that it’s a service provider. A lot of authors say they use them as a “printer” but I don’t buy it as Createspace uses Lightning as part of their printing circle and up-charges their per unit cost as a result. Why not go straight to the source?
A.P. Fuchs recently posted..Why Traditional Publishers and Agents are Still Important

August 19th, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Hey, whatever works! You just keep trying different things and see what happens, right?

Go with your heart and your gut. See which one wins out/which ones work.

Peace and blessings!

August 19th, 2010 at 11:02 pm

I’m currently using CreateSpace, but I’m in the (slow) process of switching over to LSI. Why not go straight to the source? There are some valid reasons. If you only plan on a title or two, the prohibitive cost of ISBNs (at least in the USA) could be a very prominent factor; there is a steeper learning curve dealing with LSI; and LSI requires a more tech-oriented approach to publishing than some authors may be comfortable with.

As Grace said, just keep trying different things and see what happens. 🙂

August 20th, 2010 at 5:13 am

Have you considered Smashwords? They’ll turn your Word.doc into as many e-reader files as are available (including the Kindle)… they sound like a serious company (they closed the accounts of people who published e-books “stolen” from other authors) and their free e-books on marketing and formatting for them are very useful. I’m considering trying to upload a novella with them too… haven’t decided for the novel yet! 🙁
Barb recently posted..Author interview – Holli Castillo

August 20th, 2010 at 7:39 am

Great post, Moses.

I am 100% in the indie camp, but there is absolutely no reason why you can’t pursue both options. As long as you have a work that you don’t mind committing to one path or the other, you have little to lose.

Whether you pursue traditional publishing or go indie, you will want to interact with readers and blog, so no loss there. If you shop your manuscript around to agents and publishers and no one bites, you always have the option to publish independently down the road.

Self-publish now and you could still be published by a big house later. Because you own all the rights, the only barrier for future publication would be the publisher’s own self-imposed embargo on indie books.

That’s the great thing about the state of publishing today. You have tons of options.

Best of luck to you.
M.T. Murphy recently posted..Why independent-self-publishing

August 20th, 2010 at 9:55 am

Yep, both indie and traditional options are attainable. I work both, and plan to keep doing so.

For me, it depends upon the project. Some I consider indie projects, others I think will do better with a traditional print publisher.

It’s interesting times, and where it ends up is anybody’s guess. But I’m thinking it’s a great time to be a writer!

August 20th, 2010 at 10:22 am

Keeping your options open like you are is probably the best idea. I never go with the best idea, though. I’m thoroughly indie.

One thing that really concerns me about trad publishing is the idea your agent will read your blog. Seriously, have you read my blog lately? That so wouldn’t work for me.

But not everyone is me. And what works for you is absolutely what you should pursue. But give the indie stuff time.

It needs time to take off.

August 20th, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Ty- That’s really the point of all this. You got to go with what works for whatever project. A writer needs to think through their plan while they create their book so come publication time they’re on the ball. Too many writers are vetoing one option for another. Publishing isn’t black and white right now. There’s no “better” or “worse.” There’s “what works” based on the writer’s goals.

Even go to film for a second: Star Wars are independent movies but George Lucas knows 20th Century Fox could distribute better than him so he rolled with them to get the movies to us.

It’s the same deal for publishing and, I think, will become even more so as the months and years go by.

Chris- I wouldn’t worry about his agent reading this blog. His agent knows the state of the business and what can be offered him for whatever project. If the agent has any worth, they won’t hold his thoughts about indie publishing against him (assuming his contractual obligations allow him the option to self-publish, of course).
A.P. Fuchs recently posted..To Help Celebrate the Upcoming Release of Possession of the Dead

August 20th, 2010 at 2:42 pm

Hey, A.P. you missed my point. It’s not his agent, its mine, if I had one. My point is I wouldn’t want an agent watching my blog and not just because of the self-publishing thing.

I think PC is idiotic at the best times. I’m opinionated, and I regularly piss people off. I enjoy being controversial.

I recently unfollowed a debut trad published author on twitter because his comments were things like “I’m having pasta for breakfast. Who is madder than me? No one.”

In fact, forget the “like,” I’m sure that was word perfect. Lol.

Nobody censors me. Except me.

August 20th, 2010 at 4:34 pm
Moses Siregar III

Hi Barb, yep I’ve got my novella on both Smashwords and Amazon. For those links, click on my “Book” link at the top of the page. Another nice thing about Smashwords is that you can create coupons in order to discount your ebooks or even give them away free. For example, you can get my novella free on Smashwords through this weekend with the coupon UK24D:


You won’t sell nearly as many books through Smashwords, but they have the coupon option for mass giveaways/discounts, and they can also get you into a number of major stores like BN.com and iBookstore.

August 20th, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Options are good. Writers didn’t have too many (viable) options before, so to have so many now is rather heady.

By the way, did you know we are in the same neck of the woods? Are you planing on participating in NaNoWriMo?
J.A. Marlow recently posted..Blog Carnival- Why I Am Indie

August 20th, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I like going to the forums in November but I can’t sustai that level of typing. I have problems with my tendons.

August 21st, 2010 at 12:08 am
Moses Siregar III

Where are you at, J.A.? I participated in NaNo last year, and it was great. This year, I’ll be writing my butt off at that time (I’m also going to a 1-week Writer’s Death Camp with Dave Wolverton/Farland that month), but I may not quite shoot for 50K because I’ll be working on a good draft at that point.

August 21st, 2010 at 7:50 am

A really good, even-handed analysis here. Yes, we can’t be in a hurry no matter which path we choose. (Even though you can get started faster with indie publishing, it’s a long slog.

(Thanks for the review, btw!)

August 21st, 2010 at 9:20 am

More options = a good thing. I admire your patience with the perks of being traditionally published. I will usually do things my own way if no one wants to help me out 😛

Capricorns and Tauruses are really good with business, I think (Shakespeare = Taurus). I’m a Virgo Sun/Pisces Moon/Aries Rising/Capricorn Mars.

August 21st, 2010 at 2:17 pm

I’m with Chris and Mike on this one… totally indie. I can appreciate that some people don’t want to mess with the level of drama involved in going indie, or those who want to spread their eggs out over many baskets. That’s smart.

But I seriously do not have the temperament to deal with 99% of the stupidity inherent in the trad model. I’m even looking into getting audiobooks professionally recorded and distributed through audible and such… so that’s a subsidiary right I’m less inclined to part with now.

I’m an Aries… total control freak. It’s my way or the highway in these things.

August 21st, 2010 at 2:59 pm


I thought it was you. I’m in the Prescott Arizona area. Last year and this coming year I’ve been one of the local Municipal Liaisons. Nice to have another Indie author in the group!
J.A. Marlow recently posted..Blog Carnival- Why I Am Indie

August 23rd, 2010 at 5:20 pm

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June 28th, 2013 at 4:28 am

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