Posting this tonight because I’ve been thinking back on how my life has changed since I decided to indie publish.
My friends who listened to me whine and lean on them knew how terrifying this was. How frustrating the last couple of years has been when I wrote what I knew were good books and sales were mediocre at best. Publishing almost broke me – I almost quit back in November of last year. And back in 2012 when I had a book that I just could not get right. Twice, I almost walked away from publishing entirely and I’m not someone who quits when things get a little rough. They have to be really, really bad for me to say fuck it. Like band in the 11th grade. I quit that.
At the end of last year, I made the leap to indie publishing. My first month with my first full length indie scared the hell out of me. I broke even with my operating costs but nothing spectacular. It was a new genre for me, too. I figured I would publish my last three contemporaries and make my production costs back and move on with my life, putting aside my time as a writer as a good experience but obviously not something that would ever be financially viable for me.
6 months in, I have made twice the amount that I have made my entire 4 year writing career with traditional publishers. I don’t say that to brag but to say that this is a path that has finally become financially viable to me. My new adult novel has sold more on its own at full price than any of my traditional books except for 2 (and those had .99 bookbub sales run on them). My first contemporary novel has made me more than my last advance in four months since it’s been on sale.
I am at a better point in my publishing career now than I’ve ever been. I have access to data to make decisions. I can make those decisions as need be.
I will always be indebted and grateful to my traditional editors and the houses that took a chance on me. They both taught me a huge amount about craft and about the changing nature of this industry. And I do hope that I get to work with them again in a way that’s mutually beneficial because my editor at Grand Central helped make me a better writer. But I can’t do it the way the industry is shaping up now. Contracts are getting worse for entry level and midlist writers, not better. And that’s hugely problematic long term.
For the first time in my career, I’m selling books on a daily basis. I’m finding new readers every single day. I’m not stressed about amazon rank trying to guess how many books I’ve sold or if this promotion or that is working or blog tours or any of that. I’m writing and advertising. That’s it. And it’s a hell of a lot more rewarding to see the returns on my labor than to be stressing about where the next check is going to come from.
That said, indie is not for everyone. I spoke with a friend at RWA this year and I advised her not to try to self publish. There is a lot that goes into this. I enjoy the business challenges and the problem solving and the crunching of the data. I thrive on it. It would destroy other people. Everyone should absolutely not self publish and I get really angry when I see people advocating self publishing as the One True Path.
But I for one am perfectly content to be without agent, without hunting that next contract and without stressing about hitting lists (though it would be nice, don’t get me wrong) and without worrying about industry mergers and who is getting fired this week. Not having that over my head? Yeah, totally worth it.
So I’m writing the next book and looking forward to what comes next in my publishing adventure. And that’s a place I hope every writer can get to, with whichever path works best for them.