I am an independent author-publisher. I love what I do. But there are things I wish I knew before I published.
I spent years learning how to write a story. Having listened to more than a few science fiction authors, I knew more than the average person about the book publishing industry. I tried the traditional publishing route. My two literary agents were superb at their jobs. They landed me a couple of “close but no thanks” responses from trad publishers. A friend urged me to go the independent route.
I did a great deal of research about traditional publishing vs. independent published. Finally, I decided independent publishing was best for me and my book. Despite all my research, there are many things I wish I knew before I published my book. Today, I’ll discuss the big picture ones.
It’s A Business
If you want to make money from your books, writing is a business. The choice between traditionally published or indie published is a business decision.
Use the resources of writer organizations like the Authors Guild or Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) to educate yourself on best practices. Here on Writers in the Storm, there are many posts to help you decide. John Peragine discusses Six Self-Publishing Considerations. Piper Bayard’s three-part series, Indie Publishing 101, is also very helpful.
The Business of Being Traditionally Published
The big 5 traditional publishers are relatively big business. But even traditionally published authors need some business skills.
For most traditional publishers to consider your book, you will need an agent. Which agents are best for you to query? Do you sign a contract? Or have a verbal agreement? Know the advantages and disadvantages of both. Be very clear on what the agent will do for you. Make certain you understand the agent’s commission and charges. What if you or your agent decide to end your relationship? How do you do that? What happens to your books?
If the agent sells your manuscript, you will sign a contract with the publisher. Not all agents are savvy about contracts. Make sure you understand what contract clauses you should avoid. Know what rights you sign over to the publisher.
Curious About the Indie Author Side?
In this post, I compare and contrast what the traditional published author might need to know with what the independent author-publisher might know, plus a short paragraph about a few things I wish I knew before I published.
Despite my lack of knowledge that would have been helpful, I wouldn’t change my mind or my love of the life of an independent author-publisher.
Read the rest on Writers in the Storm.