Meditative Monday: Reflecting On The Indie vs Traditional Debate: What’s It About Really?

*sniff* Ahh.

Time to down a fresh cup of Meditative Monday.

Though before we begin, I have to apologize for the lack of Fun Friday last week. I was having some internet issues that didn’t get fully resolved until mid-Saturday. Currently, I’m debating on whether or not to keep Wednesday and Friday posts since writing is consuming quite a bit of time. I don’t want to waste time on posts you guys don’t like.

But we’re back today and revisiting that argument that will probably get more and more common as e-book publishing grows.

Indie or Traditional?

And the only way to answer this is with this question…

1.) What In The Name Of Horse-Boogers Do You Actually Want Out Of Your Writing?

Prestige? Decent Hardcovers? Bookstore shelf space? Want a shot at those hardcore serious awards? Willing to wait a hell of a long time with no guarantee

Go traditional my friend. Self-publishing makes these things significantly harder.

But do you care about the rights of your work? Are you willing to learn the skills that you need to stay afloat? Would you get mad if a publisher did things without your knowledge or consent? Are you willing to shell out money to get your editing/ covers/ formatting done if you can’t do these yourself?

If yes, then consider joining the indie family.

However, there are a people who do both! Such as in the case of Chuck Wendig.

Personally, I’m interested in a hybrid path of splitting print rights with a publisher, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to give on the rights front if things come to that. My other rights, I want to be able to give away at my discretion because there’s a lot of potential for things to go wrong with brand issues that could pretty much tear my books to shreds.

If you’re in the middle of writing your manuscript, or finishing one up, this is something that you don’t want to consider lightly. It costs to get your rights back if you sign them away haphazardly. But at the same time, not everyone is going to be willing to take on a book that easily if they know its been self-published.

Do people get picked from self-publishing? Yes.

Do authors buy their rights back and make better use of them? Also, yes.

So do give it a lot of thought.

2.) How Much Marketing Are You Willing To Do?

If you were on the train of ‘I’m going traditional because I don’t want to bother with marketing’, this is the station where you’re going to want to get off.

Marketing is not avoidable.

At least not avoidable if you want to eat more than ramen and 19 cent bananas from Trader Joe’s.

You gotta think about it from the publisher and book retailer perspective. When you go to the book store or even on online retailers, who’s on the front tables with their covers open?

Stephen King. JK Rowling. Big names, most of the time.

Where do the average Joes that sell decent go? To the shelves. Spine out. A reader has to work a little to get to them.

Now let’s say, I’m a reader and you’re a new writer. I have no clue who you are and no clue if you’re any good. There are millions of titles in the store and I can’t stick around all day to gag around. Who am I most likely going to pick up?

Probably the author that I already know.

Why? Because s/he already has a good track record and I know that they’re worth the drive down to the bookstore.

That’s why publishers bust their bum to market the big names. Small names? Eh. They’ll let you sit on the shelves for a little bit, but if you’re not making much money after launch, then you’re going to have an uphill battle.

Shelf space is limited in the store. They can only have so many copies of you and other people out where the customers are. Sure people can find you on Amazon and other markets, but there’s still the hurdle of people not knowing you.

Some readers like their name brands. Some people are curious and like to give new people a chance. Some people only do it if the price barrier is low enough.

There’s so many variables that could drag you down, which is why marketing is a must.

It’s natural to feel icky about it. It’s easy to do it wrong and come off sleazy, but understand that marketing isn’t about being sleazy or running around like the town crier.

Joanna Penn puts it much better than me, I think. She defines it as “sharing what you love with people who want to hear about it”.

And I agree. Particularly on the people who want to hear about it front. Just like with writing your novel, it’s important to never bash someone over the head with your news.

3.) Where Do You See Yourself And Writing In X Amount of Years?

I know. That age-old job interview question that probably makes you roll your eyes by now.

But you’ve got to be realistic here. You’re devoting hours of your time to craft a this novel/ self-help guide/ whatever have you. And success in our industry is more often a perseverance game.

JK Rowling had to play. Stephen King had to play. Hugh Howey had to play. Joanna Penn had to play.

If you only want one book, there’s a lot of work to be done to get yourself on people’s radars. If you want to write a series, prospects are a little easier for discovering you but naturally that means there’s more work to do.

But the good thing about this is that regardless of whether you’re traditional, indie, or hybrid you can make your living as an author and be well-off as long as you’re willing to do the work.





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