Ever since Holly Lisle announced that she was leaving traditional publishing and going indie, I’ve been looking at the possibility of it for me. Like when I decided to go with omniscient viewpoint, I weighed in on the pros and cons of what might be best for me.
A huge con is that one aspect of the promotion would be completely gone. The publishers have better resources for this, just with things like catalogs to bookstores, ARCs to reviewers, and libraries buying copies (though if it’s my library and a book is in paperback, they aren’t buying it). However, many publishers are also looking for the writer to do publicity. Some agents are asking for platform from novelists.
From the indie side, I’d have to do all the publicity and marketing and find a way that would draw people to the book. A lot of the writers don’t sell anything at all. But a lot of the writers don’t know how to market either. I’ve been following some writers who are good examples of how not to do it:
- Buy My Book: Honestly, receiving multiple tweets every single day advertising a book is just plain annoying.
- Hit and Runs: This was something I noticed when I did some maintenance on my Twitter account. I ran a check on who was following me and discovered that about 30 writers were no longer following me. Several of them had unfollowed me almost immediately after I followed them. Evidently, they were only subscribing to get followers so they could do #1 but really weren’t interested.
It’s obviously difficult to figure out how to draw people in and be interested in what you’re writing. I have been doing some experimentation with Miasma, though I’ll admit I’m still figuring out what works for me. Others have talked about their characters tweeting, but that’s not for me, so I’m trying something different. I’m using the hashtag #MiasmaNovel — would have liked #Miasma, but that was being used for a video game.
Word Count and Deadlines
A number of years ago, the publishing industry went to longer books to justify a cost increase. The result is the a book today pretty much has to be in the 90K range. I always run significantly short, and it’s very hard for me to get the word count to 90K. It’s one thing to add 5K to a story, but to add 30K, it’s take the book apart and do a major revision and even then, it still may run too short. If I’m trying to meet a deadline, and I’m too short — well, you get the problem. On the other hand, indie books don’t have word count requirements. I might actually be able to produce a lot more books if I didn’t have to spend so much time revising upwards for word count.
On the timelines, publishers are now requiring writers produce a book a year. As a reader, I’ve seen the problems with this. I have a number of authors that I used to like to read, but as the pressure to produce annually built up, the stories started not being worth the money I was paying for them. On the indie side, I’d need to set a deadline for producing a book so I get it done. My personal deadline is in December for Miasma — no matter what direction I go.
Safety and Risk
Publishers, frankly, don’t like to take risks. They want a book to stand out and be different, but not something too different. They want a little risk but not too much — they want to safe. I’m not a safe writer. I’d be the one the marketing department would reject because they wouldn’t be able to figure out how to market it. How do I know this? From several rounds with the agents and occasional personal comments. From a market who freaked out because I was taking too much risk — and I didn’t think I was taking all that much risk. But when the dollar controls what gets selected, the field starts narrowing a lot. It’s likely we’ll see more of this narrowing in the publishing industry in the future. It’s already happened with TV, with shows being cancelled after two episodes because the ratings aren’t there.
A change is being forced on the industry. The question is what will be the outcome?