The publishing dilemma of the indie author

I recently went on holiday for a week (yes, again for any regular readers of my blog).  It was a very chilled trip to the Greek island of Cephalonia, I recommend it.  So I had plenty of time to think amongst reading, eating, boat trips, watching the world go by and the odd cocktail or two.  And for me that means about my writing and inevitably publishing because:

Here I am again.  I have a book almost ready to launch and I know I’m prevaricating.  I have sent it to eight or nine agents back in February and so far I have had a “thanks but no thanks” from two of them (and I’m not holding my breath for the rest).  I guess like most self-published authors the lure of a publishing deal is still the dream no matter how much I tell myself that I am good enough to make it as an indie author.  And I know that agents receive hundreds of manuscripts a year and at best they take on one or two new authors.  So my chances are slim.

As an indie author I have also of course read of those who have succeeded in self-publishing, such as Hugh Howey, Michael M Hicks to name just two in my normal genre of science fiction.  I have also read of those who have had publishing deals and then walked away from them for reasons such as editorial control and that they were still expected to do much of the marketing themselves, so what was the point?   However, at least in those cases you have built some sort of audience for your work.

Sometimes I think maybe I’m just a little lazy, that I don’t want to make the effort to market my books for myself.  There is some truth in that i.e. I would rather spend my time writing that next book (and of course surely the one that will secure me that publishing deal) rather than in marketing my work.   There again part of the problem is that even after several attempts I’m not sure what to do.  In the past I have spent some money (not a huge amount I admit) on basically twitter campaigns, however, these have not even paid for themselves.

And yes, I have read blogs and books on marketing as an indie-author.  I’ve considered Facebook ads, Google schemes and others.  As always there are conflicting views.  Some people swear by them and others tell tales of whoa as to how they’re just a waste of money.  I know I need a plan, but to have a plan you have to have some knowledge of what you’re going to do.  I know there are many agencies out there offering to do the bulk of the heavy lifting for you, for a price of course.  Most seem to “guarantee” success, although I suspect they’re the ones making the money.

So here I am ready to dip my toe in the water again.  But maybe that’s also part of the problem, all I’m doing is dipping my toe.  I try something for a short while and when I don’t get much traction I stop, worried about wasting of both money and effort.  I start with the attitude that it’s not going to work, which then becomes self-fulfilling.  I rather suspect that one of the keys to success is persistence which is something I admit I’ve lacked   Perhaps I need to give myself a good talking to.  Maybe nine out of ten things I try won’t work, but one will.  The trouble is I’ve usually given up around two or three.  And after all I should be used to rejection, I’m an author!

Well here we go.  I’ve a few things to complete for the book, such as getting a cover and finalising cover blurb etc. (important things to get right).  In the mean time I’ll go back to those books and blogs and try to distil a plan that I think will work for me and that I can afford.  So it’s time to clean the white board and start again with an open mind.  I will of course continue the writing, because the bottom line is I enjoy it and those that do read my books enjoy them.  And I know that the more books I publish the more likely I am to succeed.

Wish me luck.

As Always comments are welcome

Ian Martyn

Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

11 thoughts on “The publishing dilemma of the indie author”

    1. Thanks, and amongst everything else we need a little luck is also required. I will of course blog on how it goes

  1. Just launching a new book, fourth in a series. Changed distributors for better international reach. I do try to do the absolute best I can with the money I have for publicity, but I think there is just too much being published, and much of it is dreck. Most readers aren’t interested on becoming rock-fans even though they like your books, and don’t have time to read 870 emails a day, or that many books a year. I don’t like gatekeepers because trad publishing overlooks 865 of 870 books excellent books per year many of which I would enjoy if I could find them. Indie gets them out, but they get lost among 870 Gazillion releases. I am not sure what to do to break out of the pack, TBH.

    1. Thanks for the comment and I sense your frustration. I have read some great self-published books and some that I gave up on after a few pages because they were so bad. I guess that’s the price we pay for the ability to e-publish.

  2. Keep at it. General opinion seems to be that you need at least 10 books out there before you can start relying on a steady income.
    I hear what you are saying about the marketing, but believe me, even if you get published, you will be expected to do most of the marketing. I have 2 books traditionally published, and the only marketing done on those was to send out review copies, and include them in the publishing house’s catalogue.
    I also wouldn’t rely on getting an agent – I’ve had 2 of those, and no sales through either.
    I know that sounds pretty negative, but I have to say I do think indie publishing is the way to go these days, despite the glut of books out there. Yes, there is some luck involved in making it big, but its far more about being persistent, and sadly, learning how to market to your target audience. I invested in a marketing course this year, and I’m starting to see results. Not huge numbers (yet) but small, steady sales.
    Take a look at Nick Stephenson’s ‘First 10000 readers’ course. Plenty of success happening there – not everyone, but enough to make it worth a try.

    1. Deborah – thanks as always for the comment and your encouragement. I’ll have a look at Nick Stephenson’s course. Some times it’s just knowing where to start.

  3. It’s a tough business! That’s why, for me, I can’t think about it as business at all. I write for pleasure, I publish to get it out in the world (and find a potential audience). If I make $100 a year, well, that’s candy. But I’m in it for the joy of creating art, so it’s win-win!

    1. Yes, bottom line I write because I enjoy it, I don’t think you could do it if you didn’t. However, it would be nice to reach more people and if my books made a little money along the way so much the better.

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