Anne: “Hands down, the biggest myth is that we self-publish because our work isn’t good enough for traditional publishing. Honestly, I don’t bother explaining. Sadly, a lot of self-pubbed work IS subpar (poor quality), and each time you claim not all is, they come back at you with examples of bad books. I just let my work speak for me.”
Whitney: “I think you could say the same about traditionally published books regarding poor quality. Sure the proofreading work is there but the writing or story is lackluster. I listen to two podcasts that talk about books that got a lot of success for no good reason, haha. My answer to your question would be the same as Anne. I’d tell them that self published content is much more diverse—in writers and types of characters. People can actually write what they believe in.”
Ariël: “I was going to say basically the same thing, as well. I’d just be honest and say some of it is bad, but in my experience that’s not the majority. You just need to know which self-pubbed books are good and which aren’t. That’s part of the reason I try to review a lot of Indie Published books on my blog. Honestly I think most of the indie-published books I’ve read have been better than most of the traditionally published books I’ve read.”
Teresa: “I agree with everyone else regarding self publishing, the bad rap is from bad books and people not taking care in editing/proofing etc. But same can be said for traditional published books.”
Whitney: “Self-publishing could use professional critics/influencers to put the word out about good books so we don’t have to solely rely on the number of book ratings our work gets.”
Ariël: “Take care to write good stories rather than recycling old plots (I see this all the time in traditionally published YA), take the time and resources to edit our writing and get high-quality book covers that don’t scream “SELF-PUBLISHED!” and turn off potential readers. People judge books by their covers (myself included), and some self-published authors don’t tend to spend the time or money (whichever is applicable) to get high-quality covers that make their books stand out in a positive way.”
Anne: “I make professional editing my financial and timeline priority and make sure my covers are just as good as traditional ones. I also make a point to recommend quality Indie books, where the reader wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.”
Teresa: “Well one thing that would help us is having Book awards accept or even just acknowledge Indie books. For ourselves, just making sure we don’t put crap out there is a start. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook are all good too – if we have a presence then we are legit.”
Ariël: “It depends on what I’m writing and what I’m reading. I drew some inspiration from the Throne of Glass series while I was working on the first book in my high fantasy trilogy, because that’s what I was writing and reading anyway. Lately I’ve drawn more inspiration from movies and TV because that’s more what I’ve been taking in. There isn’t really a default for me.”
Teresa: “SE Hinton originally inspired me, but lately Maggie Stiefvater and her Raven Series, because I love the way it’s written.”
Alicia: “I read a lot of different stories, I like everything as long as it’s well done. My main inspirations are Terry Goodkind, Margaret Mitchell, Donald McCaig, Alexandra Ripley, and L.M. Montgomery.”
Whitney: “It’s only hard when I don’t have a plan or strategy. But I work for a marketing company, so I’m familiar with the do’s and dont’s.”
Ariël: “I don’t do a whole lot of marketing yet and I’m not very good at it, but I share on social media and I intend to write blog posts relating to my novel when I’m getting close to publication. (Character interviews, things I learned from writing/editing/publishing this particular book, etc.) Generally my social media marketing doesn’t work very well.”
Anne: “Hard. Really hard. I deal with the stigma a lot, plus I write niche fiction, so it’s hard to find my audience and know how to market to them. Also, I think readers react better to a marketing department pushing a book than they do an author.”
Teresa: “I admit I haven’t done much marketing, but that is more down to me being rather shy about that sort of thing. I’ve just learnt, though, that boosting posts on Facebook is quite helpful (and cheaper than ads). At the moment I want the book itself and the reviews to do the marketing, but that’s probably completely unrealistic in the long-run!”
Alicia: “I know absolutely nothing about marketing and I keep my Facebook closed off to the world, so it’s really hard for me to get outside my friends list.”
Whitney: “My question would be “How do you balance it all?” It’s common to be working on a book, marketing another book, and looking to the future and brainstorming new books–all while balancing jobs, family, etc. I’ve learned that I have to plan things out on a monthly or yearly basis so I stay on track and that really helps–but I’m always looking for ways to streamline the process so I can enjoy the writing and marketing aspects.”
Ariël: “My question: “How long did it take you to figure out writing and indie publishing?” I’ve been writing for nine years and only in the past year or so have I felt like things are starting to really click. I published some sort stories and got familiar with the CreateSpace process, figured out how not to go about editing and publishing thanks to a really rough false start with a novel I cancelled, and I’ve focused more on writing projects. I’m still not close to having everything figured out, but I mean this as an encouragement to people who might be considering writing. Stick it out even if it takes a while, because eventually it does click and you do find a good process for you, but you don’t get there if you don’t practice and go through all of the fumbling around, usually for years.”
Teresa: “My question: Is self/Indie publishing worth it? My answer: Yes. It hones writing/proofing/editing skills, gets you out of your comfort zone (personally and socially) and gives huge satisfaction when done. There is definitely no reason not to try it.”
Thank you Whitney, Anne, Ariël, Alicia and Teresa, for your time and honest answers. I think your answers provide a good idea of what it’s like to be an Indie and what you have to go through and overcome. And to me it shines light on what’s needed to make sure Indie Authors will get more recognition for what they do and the hurdles they need to overcome – and what we as readers and writers can do to help them!
This chat inspired me, so thank you ladies! Wishing you all the best with your books and writing/publishing process!
Petra is a published Indie author. She’s been writing all her life, but only dared to publish a book when she started writing the Somnia Series. She’s a motivational coach for (Fantasy) writers, offers all kinds of services on her own Dutch platform www.fantasyschrijfcoaching.nl, and uses her author’s website to help other writers achieve their writing goals. She loves using her platform to promote other Indie Authors who have the courage and determination to make their books worth your (reading) time.