What is an independent author and why am I doing this?

You may have seen me using the term ‘independent author’ on this site or elsewhere and wondered what that’s all about. You also may have wondered why on earth I am trying to become one (I do sometimes myself). This week I will be looking at both those questions and doing my best to answer them.

What is an independent author?

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Ernest Hemingway – definitely not an ‘independent author’
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘author’? Probably some incredibly arty type with their mind on higher things. Someone who is a ‘creative’ and doesn’t deal with petty everyday things like work and business. Such authors still do exist, but their numbers are dwindling. Even traditionally published authors with a publishing house behind them are increasingly having to get involved with the ‘business’ side of writing, in particular marketing their books, as advances and publicity budgets fall. Independent authors actively embrace this business side of writing, rather than seeing it as a necessary evil. They self-publish their work (managing all the elements of getting the book to market), they market their work, they deal with the distributors of their work (and this isn’t just Amazon). This doesn’t mean they do it all themselves. In that sense ’self-publishing’ is a misnomer. I, for example, have commissioned an editor, book cover design and illustrations for my first book (more on these in a later post). It probably sounds a lot of hassle. So, why am I doing it?

Why have I decided to become an ‘independent author’?

I already had the idea for my first book and had begun to draft it (almost idly without a clear view of what I’d ‘do’ with it) before I heard about self-publishing and independent authors. Once I’d heard about this route, I made a clear decision to pursue it. Perhaps unusually I hadn’t even bothered to approach an agent, let alone a publishing house. I decided I would go the ‘independent’ route without trying these traditional paths first. I imagine this is a decision which will become increasingly more common and self-publishing will move from being the last resort for those who were unable to secure a contract to an attractive and equal alternative. In fact,  many advocates of self-publishing point to the fact that royalties for the self-published author are much higher than with traditional publishing as the publishing house isn’t taking its cut to cover its investment. While true, for me this is not a compelling reason to be an independent author as the flip side is you do not have the machinery of the publishing house behind you to sell your books (even if many are saying this isn’t what it once was). If that isn’t the reason, why have I taken this decision then?

 

  1. Greater control – I want to have control over my work and my rights to it – a traditional publishing route almost certainly would reduce that.
  2. Speed to market – I want to get my work and my message out without the hassle of taking years to find an agent and publisher (if I ever did found one, that is – even J.K. Rowling struggled to find a publisher!).
  3. Use my business skills – I have many years experience as a management consultant and want to use these skills to build my own business based on what I enjoy.
  4. Not dependent on marketing’s whims – I am aware of many authors whose book ideas have been accepted by a publisher before being rejected by the marketing department.
  5. No regrets – I will definitely regret it if I don’t give it a go.

If you have any thoughts yourself on the above please leave me a comment below. You can sign up for email notifications here, follow me on Twitter (@BarfordFitzG) or ‘like’ my Facebook page to keep up with what I am doing and any future posts.

You can find out about the two books on which I am currently working here. I hope to publish the first of these in Spring 2016.

2 thoughts on “What is an independent author and why am I doing this?

  1. Hurrah!! Great post Barford. I’m totally in support of all you say here. The fact that you are approaching this in a business like fashion is hugely helpful as well as the standards in self publishing are getting ever higher. Much of the time you would be hard pushed to tell a well produced self published book from a traditionally published one – just as it should be. I look forward to seeing your first book out soon 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading and for the comment Georgia. I think it’s going to be really important to have both a writing and a business head. I just don’t think it’s possible without some sort of business mentality (and I know many don’t like that fact).

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