Many people think of writers as tortured souls who hide away in coffee shops toiling away at the Great American Novel. The author then waits for acceptance from a publishing house. It doesn’t matter how much work an author puts into a book. If a publisher does not give it a green light, the book will never make it to the light of day. According to Bowker, the official ISBN Agency for the United States and its territories and Australia, reports that over three million books published in 2010. With a statistic like that, it would seem publishing a book is easy. However, this statistic includes any book that applied for an ISBN. Only about 1% of all books submitted each year are published. Of those, a very small percentage will even sell. (citation)
JK Rowling received twelve rejections. Louis L’ Amour received over 200 rejections. Jack Camfield was told over 140 times that anthologies don’t sell. After three years of rejections, C.S. Lewis did not stop believing in his work. Margaret Mitchell received 38 rejections. Each of these went on to defy rejection and become hugely successful books. (citation)
If a book passes through the pearly gates of a publishing house, the author must work just as hard sell the book. Many beginning authors can plan on developing their own marketing campaigns. These campaigns include face-to-face, social media, conventions, or as in the case of Chicken Soup for the Soul finding unique niche markets. Even with successful marketing campaigns, though, authors make only a small percentage of sales in revenue. Most authors use their book as a springboard, developing speaking engagements or a boutique selling t-shirts, coffee mugs, and other memorabilia centered on characters from their book.
Unhappy with slim opportunities to be published and low rates of return, many authors are turning to independent, indie, publishing. The main difference between indie and traditional publishing lies in the orchestration. If an author chooses to publish independently, she assumes responsibility for every aspect of the book. She takes all the risks, but also reaps all the reward.
A lot of controversy surrounds indie/self-publishing. Many feel that since anyone can publish independently, the quality of the writing is inferior to what is being published traditionally. In a blog post by Michael Kozlowski, Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader, he quotes Andrew Franklin, founder and managing director of Profile Books, who blasted authors who self-publish. “The overwhelming majority of self-published books are terrible—unutterable rubbish, they don’t enhance anything in the world.” He also included a rant calling most indie authors lazy and corrupt. (citation)
With every well-established system, change is slow and painful. For years there was no challenge for big house publishing companies. Now more and more writers want to take control of their own success. Does that mean that the quality of work is inferior? Many think that if a writer publishes independently, she was not able to create a worthwhile manuscript. Yes, I will be the first to admit I have read some indie works that were not good. My ten year old creates better stories when she and her sister are playing Barbies. However, there are many indie authors who are creating good quality books. With the “indie” label though a lot of readers and professional writers will not even consider the chance that these rebels are capable of creating solid works.
Lisa Genova could not get her book, Still Alice, traditionally published. It wasn’t until she created her own marketing campaign and sold thousands of copies of her book, INDEPENDENTLY, that a publishing house took her seriously and her book sold in 2008 for over half a million dollars to Simon and Schuster (citation)
When I thought about refocusing this blog to focus more on books and book reviews, I researched other book blogs. So many people will not review an indie written book. I think that is very unfortunate. Indie does not mean inferior. An indie written book is a symbol of an author who took control of all aspects of the book; from the writing to the finished
product. There is a sense of entrepreneurship behind that book. Good stories are good stories and readers need to be open minded and not judge an entire section of the books.