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Writer, Is It Time to go Indie?

Technologically there has been no easier time to go Indie. It is cheaper, easier, faster than ever before for the writer to bypass the publisher and directly connect with  his or her readers. So should all writers consider the indie option? 
My personal views are somewhat reflected on this page,  but today, in this guest post, writer Jeff Benington is here to give us his take on the Indie-Traditional debacle:
What’s a Writer to Do?

                                                                               By Jeff Bennington 

One of the biggest stories in the news is the state of the publishing industry. E-reader sales are exploding, Amazon is making up the rules as they go, and readers are buying books at prices that go back decades.
What’s really intriguing is Amazon’s impending grip on the new age of publishing. They are buying book rights and signing authors with the power to create bestsellers via their logarithmic fairy dust.
So what’s a writer to do? Should he sign with an agent? Should she pursue traditional publication or go indie? How do novelists plan their projects and career objectives with so much turmoil in the field?
The answer: No one really knows.
With each new day it seems that there’s another twist to the game. A couple years ago, the words “self-published” tasted like mothballs in the mouths of many people. Today, “indies” are quickly gaining acceptance among readers. A few months ago, $2.99 was a rock-bottom price for an ebook. Now, 99¢ novels are selling by the millions and populating the Kindle store’s top 10.
One has to ask… what’s next?
It seems like the only thing a writer can expect is change. And if I’ve learned anything about life, I’ve learned that the best way to manage change is to have loose expectations and believe that today’s norm could turn on a dime.
My wife and I came to an agreement a few months back. We decided that I wouldn’t accept a publishing deal unless it was life changing, because as things stand, I can do almost everything it takes to publish my work and grow my audience without giving away a huge chunk of the profit. In fact, I recently turned down a publishing contract with a small press because it just didn’t make sense. Not now anyway.
Funny thing is, I would’ve jumped at the chance two years ago!
All to say, I think writers need to be flexible, ready to bend with the publishing ebb and flow no matter where they are in their career.
In the meantime, the most important thing you can do is keep writing. If your first book has meager sales, look for ways to improve book number two. Continue honing your craft and building your platform.
Keep on writing and don’t look back.
Write as if the indie revolution will last forever, but be prepared that everything could change again in 2012.
# # #
Jeff Bennington is the author of the Amazon bestselling ghost story, Reunion, and Twisted Vengeance, a supernatural thriller coming December 2011. He blogs at The Writing Bomb and is the creator of The Kindle Book Review.
Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Beth Trissel says:

    Very good post. Well thought out and succinctly worded. You must be a writer. 🙂 I am not going the Indie route at this point but remaining with my publisher–just signed my 11th contract. I'm concerned to see so many Indie authors selling their work so cheaply. I put months, even years, of hard work, research, writing and rewriting into a novel, and then I'm to sell it for .99? Not that I can anyway, my publisher sets the price. I fear readers will become spoiled and expect all titles to sell for a pittance. I'm all for sales on books from time to time, and am a generous author who does a lot of giveaways, but this bargain basement price is undermining the publishing market for us all.

  • Simon Haynes says:

    Good post! The other benefit with Indie publishing is that midlist authors aren't forced to come up with pseudonyms every time they release a new series, just to fool the chain store ordering systems.

    I've been releasing shorts stories on Kindle, and the motivation to finish off old works and polish them up is so much higher when I know they can be published in days and weeks, not months and years.

  • All good notes and advice looking forward to reading Reunion we like ghost stories 🙂

  • Damyanti says:

    Jeff, thanks for being my guest here, and to everyone else who took the time to comment, I'm grateful.

  • @MsSaba~ Thank you. Thanks for visiting.

    @Damyanti~ Thank you so much for having me. I enjoyed writing this and it actually stirred a few thoughts that may lead to another post.

  • This was a really wonderful guest post. Thanks so much for sharing,

  • @Richard~Thanks for commenting. Good for you for going indie. Just remember, you will be the publisher and you MUST do everything a publisher would do…professional edit, professional cover and formatting. See Michael's comment below. Good luck.

    @Michael~On behalf of the indie autors who take their writing and publishing businesses as seriously as any other publisher, I apologize for your experience. As the owner of The Kindle Book Review, I have to disagree with you.

    There are many excellent indie authors out there, and if you avoid them completely, you will soon have nothing to read except a dozen big name authors, because traditionally published authors are jumping ship and going indie daily, maybe even some of your favorite authors. It's a new world and the market will win the day.

    @Susan~What many people don't understand is, CHOICES and QUALITY come when we have an open and free market, rather than a publishing monopoly held by six conglomerates. That is why indie movies and indie music have succeeded; we get tired of seeing the same actors everytime we go to the theatre. The same applies to reading. Thanks for the comment.

  • We decided that I wouldn’t accept a publishing deal unless it was life changing, because as things stand, I can do almost everything it takes to publish my work and grow my audience without giving away a huge chunk of the profit.

    This is the calculation that a lot of writers are making. There's a wild change going on now, because the fundamentals of the business are changing. I'm just glad that writers have choices they didn't have before!

    Great post! 🙂

  • I'm sorry but I have been burned every single time I've read and indie book that I have a slight gag reflex every time I hear the word.

    The problem with indie is that FAR too many people with bad books have been able to put them in Amazon or Smashwords, get a circle of friends to favorably rate their books, and polish their first sample chapter to lure in a reader, leaving the rest as garbage.

    I'm swearing off indie until that issue somehow gets resolved. I've got more important things to do than wade through the world's largest slushpile.

  • Richard says:

    Good post. I've already gone indie with a book of short stories. I'll be putting out a novel pretty soon.

    Until I decided to go indie, I had little hope of being published. Every query letter was rejected by agents. Now, I'm doing more than hoping to be published. Even if I don't make a lot of sales, at least I've got a chance. Haven't felt that way before in a long time.

  • @CreepyQG ~Hi, Indie publishing is an ideal FREE MARKET for writers. But like any other free market, big business will want to squash the competition. It's simple economics. However, Amazon is a the new Robin Hood. They are fighting the battle of the Big Six monoplies on our behalf and so far, they seem to be winning…on our behalf.

  • Great guest post- I couldn't agree more Jeff. It's scary but exciting and confusing all at once but there's no doubt that 'indie' publishing is a hot new solution for writers struggling to make a name for themselves. What I find fantastic is that it's the readers deciding who rises to the top and who sinks. Not one single agent or one single publisher.