Thursday, 6 January 2011

Guest post: : Success As An Indie - by L.C. Evans

Please join me in welcoming L. C. Evans , author of  We Interrupt This Date, Jobless Recover Second Edition, Talented Horsewoman and Night Camp, who's sharing her journey in the indie world.

Success As An Indie

From the time I first learned to read, I dreamed of one day being an author. I started my writing career by writing short stories and essays for magazines, but all along I really wanted to write books. Eventually I tried my hand and found that I loved it.

The first book I wrote was short, with the word count coming in around 50,000. It was too long for a novella, but not long enough to be a novel. I put it aside and kept working. Soon I found that I had no more interest in writing short stories. I kept working on novels, writing and then revising, taking my spare prose and skimpy word count and learning to layer in description and snappier dialogue, giving myself room to expand and grow my book. Along the way I enrolled in and completed a couple of novel writing courses.

After several years, I thought that at least one of my novels was good enough to submit to an agent. That's when the real frustration started. Some of the agents I queried didn't respond. Some sent form rejections. A few sent me words of encouragement. I got the same from the publishers I queried, those who didn't require writers to have an agent before they would consider their work.

I kept working, revising, studying, reading, trying again. The frustration didn't get any easier to accept when those responding to my queries said that I was a good writer, but my project didn't excite them enough to take it on or they wouldn't know how to market my book. Mysteries are dead, they said. Or my book wasn't compelling enough to stand out in a crowded field. Meanwhile I watched so many books, no better than mine, but which were "flavor of the year" get published.

Finally I found a small publisher for a horse mystery I'd shopped around to agents and publishers for a couple of years. I was thrilled, despite the lack of an advance. The publisher did a super job editing the book and designing a decent cover. But there was no marketing. That was all left up to me.

My book came out in June of 2008. By then publishing had started to change in a very big way. Writers could publish their own books and ebooks for a reasonable price.

I had two more books written and ready for revision. Should I submit them to a publisher or should I publish myself? At first thought, this would seem to be an easy decision. I was already doing all of my own marketing for my book. Why not publish the next two on my own and keep all the royalties for myself? True, I'd get a bigger royalty, but I'd have to pay for my own cover design, book editing, and proofing. The biggest factor weighing in my decision, however, was the bias against self-publishing.

For years, those who paid to publish their own books lived under the stigma of being considered not good enough for acceptance by a real publisher. They were called vanity writers and their books were shunned. 

But things are changing. The perception of self-publishers as vanity publishers is disappearing and self-published authors had become indies. I decided to become an indie.

The first thing I learned is that indie doesn't mean being a vanity writer and it doesn't mean being alone. There are many thousands of us now. Some of us have honed our craft for years and some are beginners.

Being indie can mean going it alone if that's what you want--or you can join the large community of other writers and get all the help you need. One of the best things I've discovered about being an indie is that indies by and large are very supportive. I've learned where and how to promote and get reviews, where to find cover designers and editors, and all the latest in the world of publishing. My fellow indies are there for me as I am for them.

Would I ever sign with a traditional publisher or agent if I were asked? Probably. But that doesn't mean that I'm going out looking for them, wasting years querying and wondering what I can do to get them to like my books or see my potential. I'm an indie now and I can succeed without them. With more than 2000 book sales already I am succeeding. I'm living my dream and I wouldn't have it any other way.


1 comment:

L.C. Evans said...

Michelle, thanks for giving me the opportunity to guest post. Your site is very well done.