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I'm an Indie, and here's why....

Seasoned writers and artists have encountered the old debate between choosing traditional publishing versus indie publishing. (In the art world, this would be choosing a different kind of publisher (who would help promote and sell your work) or a brick and mortar gallery instead of the online marketplace.) I'm Indie in both cases. But I have my reasons! That's not to say that's the right course for everybody. In terms of Traditional and Indie both have opportunities and present different challenges (and there are challenges to both). Finding the right path can be as much an adventure as crafting tales of the supernatural (which I often do), but equally as elusive to find as a will-o-the-wisp.


Traditional Publishing:

Pros:

  1. Validation and Prestige: Traditional publishers often come with well established reputations and this lends your work credibility.

  2. Editorial Support: Writers have access to professional editors who can help refine a manuscript to perfection. Sometimes.

  3. Wide Distribution: Traditional publishers have extensive distribution networks, ensuring a book reaches a broader audience.

  4. Advances and Royalties: Writers may receive an advance payment and earn royalties -- something of an income.

Cons:

  1. Loss of Creative Control: Traditional publishers have final say on cover design, title, and even content edits for a book. Increasing, they own everything about it, leaving nothing to the person who writes it.

  2. Longer Publishing Timeline: The time taken to publish traditionally, event to secure a traditional deal is very, very slow.

  3. Hostile Contract Terms: Lately the only contracts offered to writers in the traditional publishing tracks are hostile ones, prompting even very big writers to publish their unfair contracts online for scrutiny. Prepare to lose ownership of your copyright and any earnings that might come from publication for good. (Just the tip of the iceberg, here.)


Indie Publishing:

Pros:

  1. Creative Freedom: Indie publishing offers writers complete control over their work, from cover design to release schedule. This is also why I get to write about a Northern Courier and Chief settling in a foreign town and tracking down a King and creature out of legend, and the jilted heiress of an AI/AGI company who grew up with her P.I. uncle, picking up skips and solving cases with the prototype android installed in her front room, basically, by accident. (Aaand everybody slowly falling in love.)

  2. Higher Royalties: Writers earn a higher percentage of sales revenue, though not all of it. Platforms from KDP (Amazon) to Findaway Voices (audiobooks) and onward take a cut of profit, which is why I'm looking at Shopify for direct sales of my art and books right now.

  3. Quick Publishing: Writers can get their work to readers faster without the lengthy traditional publishing timeline. This can be very fast. I wrote one of my novels in 7 days... do you know which one?

  4. Niche Appeal: If a writers work is highly specialized, indie publishing allows them to target niche markets. I know an author who only writes spicy Pirate Romance. Yo-ho-ho, indeed!

Cons:

  1. Limited Marketing Resources: The Indie writer is responsible for marketing and promotion, editing, covers, every element of production which is very expensive, and time-consuming.

  2. Validation Challenges: Some readers still believe (and boy are they loud about it on social media) that indie-published works are lower quality than tradpub. Without a shred of proof.

  3. Financial Investment: Writers need to invest in editing, cover design, and marketing services upfront, and build their own platforms. It can take decades, if it happens at all.


Because of the cons of Traditional publishing, and because I've seen incidents that reveal its often dastardly dealings with Neurodivergent authors, I steered clear of tradpub. Right now, I believe there is no safe avenue for someone like me in that space. But Traditional publishing, its validation, prestige, and economic reach, may be a beacon for others, especially those who are 'mainstream' enough to be accepted and thrive within it. Still, the rise of predatory contracts mean those seas are treacherous at best.


On the other hand, indie publishing gives writers the freedom to unfurl their creative sails and chart a course as they see fit. Readers go on journeys to far-away lands, and encounter mythical creatures and love stories that span the boundaries of time and technology. But the waters of indie publishing have hidden shallows that can sink an author, and at least demand a significant investment of time, resources, and grit.


But here's the beauty of the writing journey: it doesn't have to be an either-or decision. Not for every writer. A writer can be hybrid -- both a Traditionally published and an Indie published phenomenon. However, I've only seen big name writers -- big earners -- span these spaces. It may be the roughest course of all.


The will-o-the-wisp may flicker on the horizon pulling writers forever onward, but the journey itself, with all its shipwrecks and rich harbours, holds the true magic. It's the journey that makes you an author. Thank you for joining me on this voyage. I'm crossing the waters with the next installment in The Folded Earth series now.


I hope you'll be waiting ashore!

Fig. From The Rings of Power.


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