Self-Publishing Tips for Indie Authors

 These days, you can barely click a link without hearing something about ebooks, self-publishing, or indie authors. Along with all the other decisions and jobs a writer undertakes, this one is a big one. I still don't know which way I'll go when my manuscript is ready, so I figure it's a good idea to stay on top of what's happening.

And there's a lot happening.

A new title.
There's something new. Authors who start out putting their own book up for sale and later accepting print deals are now called 'hybrid authors'. Agent Kristin Nelson explains what's going on with hybrid authors.

One of those authors is Nelson's own Hugh Howey, the author of Wool. Nelson (and many other agents) courted him. A nice way for things to work out, right? Check out Howey's own account of how things went down.
Another author enjoying great ebook sales that led to a print deal is Jennifer L. Armentrout, with her book Wait for You. Forbes published an article on her, titled The Fast-Track to Making a Million Dollars from Writing Books.

A new perception.
There used to be quite a stigma attached to those who took on publishing themselves. There's still some stigma, but not like it used to be. In fact, indie authors are increasingly proving that they don't need publishers at all--or might accept them on their own terms. Check out this post called Self-Publishers: The New Generation of Cool Kids.

Even the Big Six (or five) are discovering huge sales in the ebook market. Lucrative electronic sales were documented by Publishers Weekly.

A new opportunity.

Many authors are discovering the benefits of publishing single short story titles and anthologies in ebook form. Author and writing teacher James Scott Bell promotes this idea. He's got a nice list of traditionally published books, but found extra money by publishing his short story titles. His article (which includes some great plotting info for short story writers) will encourage writers who have found little success querying literary journals. And speaking of literary journals, it was fascinating to read how one writer used an actual New Yorker story to query literary journals. His results are worth reading in The New Yorker Rejects Itself: A Quasi-Scientific Analysis of Slush Piles.

A new perspective.
Pricing ebooks remains a murky area. With hundreds of thousands of individuals making their own decisions, as opposed to a handful of long-standing publishers, there's a huge number of different ideas on pricing. One idea is to offer the first book in a series free, in order to entice readers to take a chance on a new author. Writer Jordyn Redwood examines this idea in Is Free Always Good? On the other hand, some authors believe that free or low-cost pricing devalues the product. Dean Wesley Smith makes some pertinent points on the subject in The New World of Publishing: Book Pricing from Another Perspective. Definitely worth some consideration.

So where do you fall? On stigma, pricing, perception, etc. Is the idea of going the indie route attractive to you? Have you already taken the plunge?


  1. Hi, Debbie:

    I'd definitely consider the indie route, although I have read some scathing blog posts against going that route. I get it--I'm from an industry where everyone advances lock-step and you take your lumps along the way, knowing that everyone junior to you will take the same lumps along their way. I don't think that is a productive mentality, so yes, I'd consider an indie route if no more attractive alternative came my way.

    Timely post!

  2. Hi Debbie,

    I love this post! As you know, I self-published both of my novels. In spite of the stigma (some of it self-induced), I'd do it again. The freedom and control self-publishing allows can't be beat. I got to create my own covers, choose my own pricing, keep final say over my editor's remarks, and determine my brand. Sure, I've made mistakes and self-publishing is a long, hard road, but in the end I know this was the right decision for me.

    That's not to say I won't still try traditional publishing for other, perhaps smaller, projects. Or maybe I'll self-publish those too... ;)

  3. Janette, I've read some of those horror stories, too, but it helps to be aware of the positive and negative sided before I make a decision. I agree that traditional publishing is slow to change, but I think indie authors are forcing some things to be different!

    Shelley--you are such a great example and inspiration for those of us still in the decision process. It's been fun watching your journey--and it's been such a positive one!


  4. A great post today. I think that, by and large, the stigma was earned. That is changing as more and more authors understand that quality is a thing that we should strive towards. Now that self-publishing has moved out of the 'vanity publishing' realm, we're really making great strides in producing high quality material.

    Having already taken the plunge, I have to say, it is fun and instructive; equal parts challenging and rewarding.

    As to the pricing, I am one of those who believes that low prices are not the answer. I take great pride in my work, and I believe that my work has value. Pricing that work at a low mark tells the world the exact opposite. It also creates a dangerous consumer mentality, whereby the consumer begins to believe that your hard work really is worth less than a cup of coffee - devaluing art everywhere.

    And I simply cannot abide by that.

  5. You're right about the stigma. I'm so glad so many authors are taking the time and money to hire editors and engage beta readers. You're a great example of this!

    And I think you're doing the right thing with your pricing. Hopefully, more writers will catch on so readers won't expect to get everything free or nearly free.


  6. I love how this post summarizes everything so well. Interestingly, I see agents asked about self publishing all the time, and they are positive about it and say their own business HAS NEVER BEEN BETTER. If they aren't just saying that to keep up a front, it means it's win/win. Time will tell!

  7. You're right, Margo. The more options, the better. Yes, there are some issues with self-publishing, but I think those will be ironed out over time. The biggest thing is quality--it will always win out.


  8. Hi Debbie.

    Wanted to let you know two things. First, this post came at a good time as the thought of Self Publishing is forever in my mind, so thank you for sharing your thoughts about it. Two: My site is back up :)

  9. Ooops. I thought the link would be attached to my name.

  10. Thanks, Stephanie! I'll check out your site again.


  11. A great post today. I think that, by and large, the stigma was earned. That is changing as more and more authors understand that quality is a thing that we should strive towards. Now that self-publishing has moved out of the 'vanity publishing' realm, we're really making great strides in producing high quality material.
    Self Book Publishing

  12. Very true, Sanzida. Things have changed so fast, it's hard for people's perceptions to keep up.


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