Monday, 7 February 2011

Joanna Penn Guest Posts on Indie Publishing: What Is It and Why Should You Consider It?

I'm delighted that Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn has agreed to guest-post on Literascribe, discussing her experience of independent publishing, focussing on the benefits and the potential hazards of choosing this route. Her thriller Pentecost is now available - you can buy it on Amazon in print and on Kindle today! It's a fast-paced commercial spiritual thriller in the Dan Brown vein - and I have a particular interest because she's set part of it in Oxford where I live!

Here's what she has to say:  
Indie or independent publishing is the new name for self-publishing. It's a proactive choice and not a last resort. It's a stamp of pride for online entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of new publishing technologies. It's being embraced by more and more authors who want to receive 70% royalties for their writing and are willing to put in the extra effort to make it work.

I published my thriller novel Pentecost as an indie author and have previously indie published three non-fiction books. Here are some of my reasons:

Speed to market. I'm a fast worker and love to see the results of my work immediately. I also like getting paid for my efforts. Once a book is complete, you can publish it on the Kindle and have the book selling within 24 hours. The money is in your bank account the next month and you can see the sales figures every day. It's immediate feedback. You can have a print book selling in the Amazon store within a month of publishing it with Lightning Source as print-on-demand. Compare that to traditionally published authors who may never see exact sales figures or will wait months for them. That's after waiting 18 months for the book to launch.

Entrepreneurship. I've been a freelance consultant for years now and love the control of being my own boss. I know business and like to control my own projects and finance. I also enjoy marketing and have buitl an online platform over the last two years which means that I have an audience to share my work with. I like to blog, speak and sell as well as write. Indie publishing appeals to my sense of entrepreneurial skill. I like to learn things, embrace technology and try new things out. By being in charge of my work, by owning the rights, I can give books away for free or price them how I like.

I'm not ruling out a traditional publishing deal and increasingly publishers are looking for books that break out by self-published authors. But right now, indie publishing is fantastic for me. My books are out there being read and my efforts are focused on marketing and promotion, a positive energy of achievement instead of the negative energy surrounding rejection and chasing agents with work.

That said, there are criticisms of self-published work that indies try to counteract.

Lack of quality. This is easy to fix if you are committed to a quality product. I engaged a book designer, two separate editors as well as proof-readers for Pentecost and all committed indies produce high quality work.

The "stigma" of self-publishing. As more quality indie titles are published and successful, the stigma lessens. Plus we are trying to rebrand as "independents"! It also depends on who you are trying to impress - publishers or readers? Readers generally don't notice or care who the publisher is and on, the biggest bookstore in  the world, my book has the same page space as Dan Brown.

Online sales of ebooks and print books are a huge growth market and it doesn't matter how you publish  now as long as it's a great book and you know how to market. So consider indie publishing if you're willing to invest in building an author platform and you enjoy running your own business! I've found it to be fantastically rewarding!

I'm sure you'll find Joanna's comments really interesting - this is such a hot topic just now and it is very much for every would-be writer to weigh up the advantages of speed and autonomy versus the burden of being a self-marketer. I agree that for indie publishing to work, the books need to have the same level of professional care and concern with aesthetic appeal invested in them as with traditionally-published books. I think would-be self-publishers should be prepared to face some tough decisions: is their work of a high enough quality? Are they prepared to edit and rework their writing? Are they being premature in putting the work out there (that's the danger of 'speed to market')? Are they prepared to invest time and money in presentation and marketing?

For further discussion of this topic, see also my blogpost back in September after visiting the Kingston Self-Publishing Conference.

In the meantime, let's wish Joanna every success with Pentecost! (Joanna is also a blogger at The Creative Penn: Adventures in Writing, Publishing and Book Marketing. You can connect with Joanna on Twitter @thecreativepenn)


Joanna Penn said...

Thanks so much for having me Lorna.

Lorna F said...

You're very welcome, Joanna. I'll be buying it on Kindle in the next few minutes! I wish you every success with it.