#LetsReadIndie 2017

I posted this on my Goodreads blog a few days ago, but then I decided to repost it here as I love the idea so much and want to spread the word 🙂

Earlier this year I came across something I’d like to share with you. Two wonderful bloggers, RaeAnne and Tina, are hosting the #LetsReadIndie 2017 challenge, and you should check it out!

Why is it a great idea to participate in #LetsReadIndie?

1) You can discover great books you might miss otherwise. We often pick up the books we keep hearing about from multiple people. With indie books, chances are you won’t hear about them unless you are actively looking. But if you do look, you might end up discovering your next favorite book!

2) RaeAnne and Tina are offering badges, bingos, giveaways, and other goodies.

3) Indies need your support and will appreciate it! Your love matters.

Why and how can you help? Here are some of the challenges that indie authors face:

– Indie authors need to take care of every step of the publishing process. These include multiple stages of editing, cover, formatting for print and various electronic formats, blurb writing, publishing, marketing, negotiating translation and other rights, finding reviewers. Authors can do any of these steps by themselves or hire help. In any case, indie publishing costs a tremendous amount of effort, time, and/or money. On the other hand, authors with traditional deals can expect their publisher to take care of all of these (although, depending on the publisher’s commitment, some authors might still end of doing a part of the work themselves.)

Time. The percentage of indie authors who can make a living off writing is very low, and the big success almost never happens after the first book. The majority of indie authors need to have a full-time day job and sacrifice sleep and spare time activities to write a produce a book.

– Getting placement in physical bookstores and libraries is next to impossible.

Finding reviews is by far the hardest thing for an indie author. Big publishers submit their books to all kinds of channels that indies can’t access – major newspapers, prolific authors, bloggers. If you are an indie, your options are limited to sending review copies to book bloggers. Which is great, book bloggers are amazing! However, most bloggers with a large following never accept indie books. This limits the authors’ chances to get reviews that will reach a large number of people. Still, many awesome bloggers do accept indie books, and they are already making a huge difference! And this is something you can help with! You don’t need to be a blogger. All you need to do is whenever you read an indie book, write a review on Goodreads and elsewhere.

So why would anyone in their right mind become an indie author?

Sadly, the idea that authors self-publish because they are not good enough for a traditional deal is still common. While this may be true for some authors (and, let’s face it, it’s not like traditional publishing always guarantees quality), there are many other reasons why authors choose the indie route. Such as:

Full creative control. No one can force you to change your content just to make your book more marketable. You choose your own cover, blurb, formatting design, genre and keywords when selling on Amazon and elsewhere, etc. While you end up doing a bit more work, at the end everything is exactly as you want it to be.

Writing in a niche genre. Most big publishers will try to nicely fit your book into a given subgenre, such that it follows the same structure as books they’ve published before. Then readers picking up the book will already know exactly what they can expect. It’s a proven formula that works. But what if you are writing, for example, a robot-zombie romance? And what if it has no happy ending? Perhaps you have a story you really want to tell. And, very likely, there will be a few readers who need this story and who will love it, but they won’t be enough to make a big publisher consider your book. Most publishers have a few established genres and will only look into your book if it fits into one. Similarly, if your first book is longer than 90k words (or even less for YA), most publishers would be unwilling to take the risk.

– Unwillingness to deal with gatekeepers and to depend on others.

Writing in a language different from the official language of the place where you live. English is an official (though not always primary) language in 66 sovereign countries and many more non-sovereign entities. In addition, an estimated 600-700 million people have learned it as a foreign language. Obviously, many authors from all kinds of locations and backgrounds choose to write in English. However, the biggest English-language publishers are located in the US and the UK, and, to a much smaller extend, in Canada, India, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, and New Zealand. If you live anywhere else, chances of getting a deal for a book in English are very slim. Note that it’s not impossible to get an agent and a publisher in a different country – it has happened before. Still, your book will need to make a much stronger impression than the books of local authors to be considered.

– IT’S REALLY FUN! It’s hard work, but it’s satisfying work!

I examine some more pros and cons of Traditional vs. Self-Publishing in this post.

To recap: any help you can give indies will make a huge difference and will be greatly appreciated. So, #LetsReadIndie!

Image sources: iStock, StockSnap

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