Indie publishing sounds fantastic. No more long waits in the slush pile. No more rejection letters telling you’re not good enough. No more hours spent waiting by the mailbox or in front of your inbox. No more waiting on the traditional publishing route to deny you because you’re unknown.
Right? All of those things are true. But there is a dark side to indie publishing.
The trouble with indie publishing is that there is no editor waiting at the gates to reject your poorly edited manuscript, or to tell you that you should hire an editor, or give it a revision. There is no one to tell you that your manuscript won’t sell because it’s not very good or repetitious of several other stories. There is no gatekeeper. There are no standards.
This leads into the problem. The indie publishing world is flooded – think Noah’s Ark – with poorly written novels in every genre. It is next to impossible for good novels to stand out in such a biblical flood. When people go looking for books, they look for titles they’ve heard of before, authors they’ve read, tested and true. A lot of readers won’t waste time with an unknown, unsupported, random book on the internet, no matter the price.
If the book is being promoted, say at a bookstore, that must mean that someone has read it and thinks it’s good, right? They assume a promoted book has earned it’s place on the shelf, face out, unlike all the other spine-out books.
Word of mouth advertising is the best, and it’s free, and it’s also the hardest to get. You can’t buy word of mouth. You can buy all the ad space you want, but a lot of people ignore those ads. Me included.
Indie authors have a reputation for being bad writers. The stereotype is that they weren’t good enough to get published the traditional way, so instead of working to fine-tune their craft, and better their manuscript, they published it anyway. This is true for some indie writers; for others it’s not.
I self-published after many encouraging rejection letters from agents. They took the time to tell me that despite my good writing and interesting story, they didn’t feel the story right for them, because of their full load, because of the market, and such – it was not a form letter. I revised, I found beta readers and editors, and I worked hard after I made the decision to self-publish.
Before you self-publish, go the extra mile and a half to make sure your manuscript it 150% ready to meet the cruel world of readers. Or, as a rule of thumb, go the extra mile before you submit a query to agents.