considerations, such as traditional publishing or going indie

Though I haven't been around the blogosphere much lately, I've noticed that quite a few of the writing bloggers who got started around the same time as Erica and me have gone indie.

I'm so intrigued.
And so impressed.

And yet I'm wondering if it's worth it.  (For me.)

I know that the novel I'm working on right now will be queried.  I'll try to get it an agent who will try to get it a publisher who will try to find it many readers.


I can't help but wonder.

About $$$$.

I quit a better paying job last summer to take a (much) lower-income job doing the same thing (teaching).  I'm closer to home.  I'm literally with my family (I teach at their school). I teach my faith (It's a Catholic school--hence less pay.) I'm happier.  So I would love to make money writing.

This leads my wondering mind to wondering whether selling fewer copies indie (not that that's always the case) because I feel like I'd reach fewer people (I'm nowhere near the business woman I'd need to be --yet--to sell big) would make more money than giving away a larger percentage of money to all the people who take a cut for traditional publishing. 

(It kind of drives me crazy to think that I would make a teensy tiny itsy miniscule amount of money for a book that I spent hours on.)

I'm wondering if I'd have what it took to put the time into researching and creating and dreaming and everything else to self-pub and self-market completely solo. Or would it be worth it to pay someone else to do some of that for me?  Would it make more sense for me to focus on the writing part and pay someone to save me time?

I think I'd LOVE to make my own cover art and do the formatting and create swag and a new web page and ALL of that, but I also know that that would take me SO much time.  And, I can be honest with myself, I don't have that.  I am a mom with three kids whose teaching job takes all my school year time and a lot of my summer time, plus I try to run/workout on a daily basis and I can barely squeeze in an hour a day to WRITE much less do anything else.  Even now I'm taking 20 min (ish) to write this post and that's out of novel-writing time.  (My baby is napping and I'm sure he'll wake up any minute.  Then it's off to pick up the dog from the groomer, pick up the ceramics we made at THE FIRE, off to finish packing up the classroom and THEN to the zoo since I just promised my older kids.  And there's t-ball tonight.)

But I'd love to make it all mine.  I'd love to get up in the morning and hop online and see how my book is selling and being rated and to collect some extra money (since I want to buy a travel trailer and a permanent camping site and hubby says no unless I get a second job--hey, hey, writing!)

Help me out.  What are your plans for your writing?  What have you done already?  Most importantly, WHY?  Why did you/didn't you/won't you/will you go indie? 

I love the idea of selling indie novellas.  To see what happens.

Maybe some day.

For now, Erica and I will put finishing revisions and edits on our co-novel (we had to take a break from it to get to the end of the school year) and we will query it.  I will get farther than the 12k I'm at on my latest WIP.

But I'll continue to research and stalk you all and consider.

Hopefully we'll have a post or two here along the way as well.

We'll visit you!



  1. I first decided to self-publish my shorter works because I knew I could make more money off them and have more control than going through a small publisher or sending them to magazines/anthologies. In the back of my mind, I questioned whether to continue to self-publish or to try a more traditional route for my novels, but now I've decided to continue to self-publish. I really do like the control. I enjoy having a hand with the cover art--or hiring it out if it's beyond my meager skills. I love formatting, and I have a great group of critique partners/beta readers to help me edit my work. With all that, the big clincher for me was the fact that even with a traditional deal, you, the author, will have to do 99% of the marketing yourself. More and more books are not getting into bookstores either. So if I'm doing the marketing already and likely won't get into most bookstores, then I might as well continue what I'm doing by self-publishing. Plus, there's so many rights I wouldn't sign away, so it works for me.

    Of course, each person is different, and I wish you luck with whatever you decide. :)

  2. I seem to have a similar view as you. At first, I was simply intrigued by others' move toward the Indie route; then, I became impressed. I still am impressed and think they are very vivacious and courageous folks. For myself, I'd considered it. Then I decided to ax my try to hook an agent and sub to smaller publishers on my own. Taking that risk was when it all started for me. I received multiple offers, which caught the attention of my now amazing agent. And now I'm on sub with multiple large house, just waiting for a bite! We all have our paths to follow. I'm glad I decided to trust myself and find mine.

  3. I went Indie. I made more money than I spent on the book, which was a bonus. But it literally sucked up all my time to market and promote it. At first it was fun. But I got so far away from writing, that I'm not really writing at all any more. It stopped being fun when it became a second job.
    I recommend Indie for folks whose primary job is writing and/or who have nothing to lose. I knew I wouldn't be pursuing a full time career in writing, so there was no risk. But if money is a concern, traditional is safer and doesn't require an outlay of funds.

  4. I am now seeing how much I've missed blogging. Thank you so much for stopping, reading and sharing your thoughts and journeys and decisions with us and other readers. I very much appreciate these comments. Each of your comments is very unique and show just how much these types of decisions need to be tailored to the individual writer. You have given me much to think about in the months/years ahead. Christy

  5. I think writers just have to go with what works. I'm not an expert on the subject but I know there are tons of different levels of involvement for writers, agents, and publishers. You might be able to do the cover and checking the stats and so on. You'll find what's right!

  6. I'd still like to have an agent for my shorter books, but I really feel I need to indie publish my long doorstoppers. I want complete creative control and don't want to be forced to use a headless cover or some generic model, hack out hundreds of pages or split each book into 5-6 books, or change a title I'm really proud of having hatched. Most modern agents aren't interested in saga-length historicals, and it's harder to market books whose characters don't stay in one age-based category for the entire story.

  7. As your previous commenters have said, it's a personal/business decision that only you can make. It used to be that almost no one would read an indie title because they hadn't already been "vetted" by the powers that be. Some of them still should be turned down, but with the resources out there, there is no reason a person can't put out traditional quality fare at a reasonable cost. And, there is no longer any reason to have that stamp of approval of a big publisher. If you believe in your own work, others will as well.

    When I completed my first book I struggled with this decision. It didn't take me long to decide to go indie. I looked at the cost of production (a paperback costs me about $5 and some time to create, and e-books cost me just the time). There will be some other out of pocket costs, such as cover and editing. This kind of help comes with a traditional deal. However, I created my own covers at first and only spent time and no money. I later changed my covers when I had enough money to hire a good cover artist. I also had a couple of good friends who did editing, so that cost me a minimal amount. But, in the interim, I was making money to support my writing habit.

    Then I looked at my profits vs. cost vs. time. It was much more feasible to go indie. I'd spend the time no matter what and probably more if you consider the time it would take to find an agent and then to court publishers. The average royalty through publishers (for established authors) is/was 8% per sale. I made 100% less cost for each paperback sold from my hands and 70% for ebook sales.

    Next came my control (this was one of the biggest deciding factors for me). I retain all rights to my books - ALL RIGHTS. No one could tell me I had to change my story or title and make me spend months making those changes. And then wait a year or two before the actual release of the book.

    I'm very happy I went the indie route. I suspect, had I gone traditional, I'd still be sending out query letters. As it is, I made more money last year than I have ever made in my entire working life.

    Of course, you don't have the cover help or blurb help. And you'll have to solicit your own reviews and there are still plenty of places that will not review indie titles. It's an uphill jog no matter what and both routes have their drawbacks. But, if you do happen to do well as an indie, the trad contracts will show up. THAT'S when you'll have a huge decision to make.

    Every book has a market. The trick is finding it. I've now sold over 100,000 copies and some people actually like my story! :-)

    The time is the biggest factor in all of it - the writing, the editing, the designing and the marketing. But, from what I've heard from authors on both sides of the fence, you'll spend the same amount of time no matter what. I can say, knowing some indies who have taken the traditional leap, I talk to the indie authors much more often. They seem to have more time. I like not having to work on someone else's deadline.

    1. Whoa - That was a much longer reply than I'd intended. Sorry. :-)

  8. I am very much loving these comments. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. JC-DON'T apologize. I ate up every word of your comment. I'm GLAD you took the time to leave it. :) Christy (AND CONGRATS ON YOUR HUGE SUCCESSES!)

    1. I'm obviously pro Indie/Self Publishing, so please consider that when reading my comments.

      I'm a stay-at-home mom, so my time is a lot more flexible than those with jobs outside of the home. That, also, is a huge consideration.

      I think, going into the author business expecting to make a lot of money, isn't why we do it. We do it for the love of writing and with the hope of being read. The money is just a bonus that allows us to keep writing. And, if you're still in the query process, you won't be read or making money. (did I mention I am pro Indie?) :-D

  9. Hi, Christy, HEY ERICA,

    Glad to see you posting regularly. I've missed you guys.

    As for me NOTHIG done yet. Still on the query band wagon. I decided to give it the rest of the year and then if nothing happens, INDIE is for me. At least with my first two novels. AND maybe even the novella I am working on. They seem to do great in the Indie world.

    Anyway. NOTHING new or exciting. Just plugging along.

  10. No, I know writing isn't about the money. BUT I'd love to be able to say it's "my job" and for my hubby to take it seriously. The only way he'll take it seriously is if it can be considered "a job" which means it needs to make us some money. :) Hey, Michael. Keep on with the querying. If you go indie, you're an artist, so you'll be awesome at the cover and formatting portion of everything!!! Christy

  11. This is a fabulous post! It raises important questions and also OMG you are so busy I have no idea how you cope you are amaze!

    This question hasn't even crossed my mind yet because I'm still in the business of slowly polishing my words and plotting world domination but mmm. Definitely I think you cannot rule out indie etc. All paths come with pros and cons, and more effort in one area but less in another, so I guess the best decision is the one that suits you the most. :)


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