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.
- 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.
- I love being in business for myself and have almost always operated in this way.
- I enjoy controlling every aspect of my business for various reasons.
- I have some platform already. For example, my previous business has an opt-in email list with 15,000 subscribers.
- 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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