I’ve been doing a lot of research on Indie-publishing and the whole publishing space and I’ve come out with a lot more clarity on how I want to go about my books.
I’m getting into my first time indie-publishing my own work. I prefer referring to it as indie- publishing as opposed to self-publishing because as an Indie- Author I’m not doing everything myself, I have someone doing the book cover, book editing etc.
I’ve been writing professionally TV film scripts and TV shows for 14 years now, (I still am), I also wrote a children’s storybook that was published by a big Kenyan Publisher. I’m now getting into the space of indie-publishing and a lot of people are asking me why I would want to self-publish as opposed to finding a publisher. Having done so much research on this topic, I have clarity on why I would want to go the indie-publishing way. This doesn’t mean that I would turn down a great publishing deal if it comes my way, but since I am now equipped with lots more knowledge on the process, I am able to make an informed choice. Also there are so many ways to publish, you could indie-publish, you could get published, you could go hybrid i.e indie-publish some books, get published for some others.
Information is power and with the world becoming a global village, thanks to the internet, it is now more than ever increasingly easy to indie-publish, we are just scratching the surface in Africa in indie publishing and I believe we can do it. After carefully researching. I give below some pros and cons of indie-publishing.
PROS OF INDIE PUBLISHING
- You have all the rights to your books: When you indie publish, the book belongs to you! You can decide to produce various formats of your book to maximize on how much money you make e.g have an e-book, a print edition, an audio book, you can also have the same book in other languages. So same content in various formats and languages making you money in different ways. When you are published by a publisher, most times they will want to retain the right to exploit the various formats. Whether they exploit or not, you shall have no say as you will have signed off the rights.
- You have total Freedom to write what you want, when you want and publish when you want: You can write in any genre, in multiple genres, you don’t have to wait for years to get picked by a publishing company, you can go ahead and publish anytime. I’m not a writer who reads one genre of books, I read in various genres, hence as a writer I could decide to write in various genres, I don’t need to ask permission from anyone, I simply write. Being published sometimes means you’re boxed in one type of genre.
- You have higher royalties: I mentioned earlier that I’ve been published before, from this book I get 11% royalty. When you Indie-publish you get higher royalties. That’s a fact. Information is power.
- The world is now a global village: Through online platforms such as Amazon or even selling e-books directly from your website, you can reach a large African and international market. The internet has made it easier, more on more people are having cheaper access to internet, I know many writers are scared and think it’s harder to get your work out there, but really, it’s not, with clever cheap advertising and writing a great book/books, you can reach your 1000 true fans. You don’t need to sell to the whole world, but if you reach 1000 true fans, who buy every other book you write and publish, then you’re in good business. So Imagine having indie-published 10 or more books, your account will be looking good, right?
- You’ll build a platform with books: Even if you want to get published, don’t you think it’s a great idea if you get on with it and let the publisher find you on the way. Most publishers these days want an already established author, someone already with a following. They don’t want to spend a lot of time marketing you, the beauty is when the publisher finds you already indie publishing, with a following and making decent money, then you will have bargaining power. Don’t wait for permission to indie-publish. Give yourself permission.
- You can make the process cheaper: You don’t need to have printed copies, you can sell online as e-books and split the income with the platforms. You could decide to do a couple of printed copies which you can get into partnerships with various places such as Rafu Books, Nuria, Jumia, etc (in Kenya) who distribute indie-published books and for that, most of these take 30percent, so you still have 70 percent left to you. Even the online platforms don’t take over 30 percent. Indie-publishing has never been easier. If you sell directly from your website the percentages are much more.
- Industry has shifted in our favour: Things have really changed and especially in this covid season. Publishers have been worst hit as most of them depend on print copy sales, and with lock down and the uncertainty around us, most people are not going into bookshops to buy physical books. I sense they will wait it out before they sign on any new authors. The more reason why you just need to get on with it.
CONS OF INDIE PUBLISHING
- Indie-publishing requires you to work hard: You have to spend time learning the business of marketing, you’ll have to find printers, talk to distributers, book editors, book cover designers and so much more. This is what I’ve been spending the last year doing, learning learning learning. The beauty is once you learn this knowledge and establish partnerships with great freelancers then the second, third and so on book process becomes easier. The first one is really where all the stress is, and for me now, coming very close to the last stages of the book process, I must say, it has been hard work, but very rewarding work. So ask yourself, if you are willing to learn all it takes, I am not a technical person but I have managed to run my website and email list since March. If I can do it, so can you!
- You’ll have to spend your own money: Publishers use their money and pay you an advance in most economies to publish your work. In some economies they pay you nothing! They simply publish and then start paying you the percentage agreed upon once the book starts selling. If you are indie-publishing, it means you’ll have to spend your own money. My question to you is how badly do you want to get started as an author? People spend their salaries on their hobbies, on clothes, shoes etc, people invest in land etc, you could decide to channel your money to this passion that could start making you money. Book designers in Kenya are not very pricey, hosting a website is not very pricey etc. Invest in your future if you’re serious about it. Look at where most of your money goes and decide to channel some of it to this passion that could become a great source of income for you, consider it an investment.
- No accolades: If you want to win a literary prize then this might not be the way for you, as most indie- published writers are not considered for those. For me, I really want to make a living with my writing, with my books as assets and TV Film and shows royalties. I want to write books that entertain and people pay to read them. Maybe it’s because I’m also a screenwriter so my ego satisfaction might come through an Oscar award hahaha. But hey as I mentioned, there’s the hybrid model ofpublishing, so for that literary book you write, you might want to approach a publishing house, that’s if accolades are important for you.
- Most book shops are hesitant to stock indie-published books: Yes, they are, but if your book is really good, and people ask for the book in their stores and they don’t have it, they will have no choice but to give you a call. I know several authors who indie-publish and have their books in most of our major Kenyan bookshops, so fear not.
Hope these tips inspire you to get on with your Indie-publishing journey? Information is power so equip yourself with the knowledge to make the necessary decisions.
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