About Indie Publishing

In anticipation of the release of The Many Lives of Nathan James, I have garnered a lot of questions about how this novel is going to be published.

"Are you just going to put it on your blog?"

"Is it going to be on Amazon?"

"Is anyone really going to buy this thing?" 

The answers are no, yes, and good Lord I hope so! When I started out on this new career path as an writer, I wanted 3 things: 1) to get a job I loved doing something that would help me further my writing career (mission accomplished) 2) have my novel published by a big bad publisher and 3) sell millions of copies of my book and make it into a movie. 

After ample research and recalibrating my goals, that second one seemed pretty far fetched (and yes, so does the third goal, but as my mother says, if you don't believe it, it won't happen!). As I started to research traditional publishing, it seemed more and more unlikely that I would every get picked up by a big name publisher. The publishing industry is amidst an incredible and exciting shift. The term "self-publishing" is no longer a dirty word due to the success of indie novels such as The Martian and Fifty Shades of Grey (okay, maybe dirty applies to that one). More and more indie writers are coming out of the woodwork daily, but what sets apart the bestsellers from the author who has only sold books to friends and family? Entrepreneurship. 

Being a writer is no longer just about how good your book is, even in traditional publishing. You have to be equipped with a full marketing plan for your book. Even when I was querying traditional publishers and literary agents, one of the asks I needed to include was "How are you going to market your book". Unfortunately, even traditional publishers don't have the fantastic marketing you would expect when getting published. They have a back list of books they need to promote from month to month and yours will likely only get a few weeks worth of their time. The rest is up to you. Sadly, the hardest part of writing a book is not writing the book. That's the easy part. The hard part is finding out how to get it out there. 

So why choose to indie publish when traditional publishing can give you "more"? Well, I think that depends on the book and on the author. This is my first book and, let's be real here, it's not going to be a bestseller day one. As an indie author, I'm down for playing the long game. I like to think about it as selling a product, my writing. If you like the first book, you will likely enjoy the second book, and the third book and so on. If I only wrote one book, I can only make one sale per reader, but if I write multiple books, I have a better chance of gaining a loyal readership who will purchase my books as they come out. Since I am not George R.R. Martin and people are not waiting with baited breath for years for my next book, I have to get these out fairly quickly if I want to keep my readers engaged. That quick turn around is part of the reason I chose to indie publish. I could query every literary agent and publishing house for years and possibly get a deal one day, but I'm not a very patient person. Indie publishing allows me the flexibility to publish on my schedule.

To that point, even if I did get a traditional publishing deal, that doesn't guarantee that they will publish my next book. A great, and very frustrating, example of this is My Name Is Memory by Ann Brashares, author of a little known series called The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Ever heard of it? Well, Ms. Brashares put out this novel called My Name is Memory and I was totally sucked in... until I got to the end and I was ready to send hate mail to her house. She left it TOTALLY open ended and, quite frankly, I was angry at her as an author. Upon further research, I found out that this was suppose to be book one of three! I was so excited, I could have bursted!... Until I found out that her publisher decided not to pick up the other two books. Jerks. So even bestselling, movie making authors can't catch a break sometimes. In case Ann's Google Alerts send her a message and she sees this blog, all is forgiven and you are a beautiful queen of literature. Now send me the other two manuscripts!!!

There is also the creative aspect of indie publishing that intrigues me. After a little digging, I found that when you sign with a traditional publisher, they have all creative control over the cover, text edits, etc. That being said, I can see how that could be a great benefit to some authors because it is an incredible amount of work trying to flesh out the creative materials that support your book. For me, I like that creative control and really have enjoyed seeing my work take shape because of my own ideas. That creative control also gives you the flexibility to rebrand if you need to, which is a great marketing strategy. For me, it's simple: no one is going to work harder for you than you.

Bottom line: there are good and bad aspects to both traditional and indie publishing. At this point in my writing career, indie publishing is my best bet to get started. For you, it might be traditional and that's okay! Who knows, I may publish traditionally in the future if it's the right fit. If you are looking to self publish a book or have questions on traditional vs. indie publishing, please send me a note in the contact page. As more and more people begin to discover their creativity, it is our duty to pay it forward with knowledge and guidance. Please use me and this blog as a resource for YOUR creative path!

Hannah Huber