“So are you going to self-publish?” I asked a friend who has spent years polishing her manuscript, while waiting for that elusive email from an agent asking her to submit the entire novel. Her reply: “I don’t know, how do you know when you should, and what happens if I were to do so only to have an agent interested?” highlighted a much-debated issue which has kept many a writer—with a burning need to be read—up many nights. To go Indie or not, that is the question. My take: If Indie movies are accepted, why not Indie books?
With the progress in technology, the lines between author, publisher and marketer is blurring. You can now be all of that rolled into one. However I have learnt—the hard way—that Indie publishing is not for everyone. It takes a very special kind of animal to cut it in the Indie world. Based on my experience of having published a bestselling kindle epic fantasy novel, I have put together a quiz, to help you decide whether you should go Indie or not.
Here are the questions:
- Are you waiting to be discovered or somewhere along the way have you discovered yourself?
- Do you write to be read?
- Is your novel unclassifiable? My first novel for example was a Young Adult epic fantasy novel, inspired by Indian mythology. Having pitched it to a few agents, I already knew that it spanned many genres and was an absolute nightmare for them to take to publishers, as they could not slot it into just one category.
- At heart, are you an entrepreneur? Do you normally jump first and think of the consequences later? Are you pragmatic about failure—enough to pick yourself up and move on swiftly to the next?
- Do you like to experiment, and cannot resist a challenge? Do you thrive under pressure, and when the odds are stacked against you?
- Are you impatient, probably a control freak? In fact, you so want to control your own destiny, that you keep checking in with the stars to find out what’s going to happen in your life, so you can steer it along the way you want.
- Are you a technophile? You secretly indulge your inner geek admit it! On a practical level are you at least on Facebook and twitter?
- Are you social? Love debating on twitter and have already been building your social networking platform for a while? In which case when you launch your book you already have the base to amplify your reach, and that is half the battle won.
- Do you have the courage of conviction, the doggedness of determination? Is the power of persistence strong within you? Do you have the wherewithal to invest in yourself and in your voice—so you can substitute some of the publishers’ services and give your book a good start in the real world.
Perhaps, you are one of those—who like me—has had a near death experience. So you know that life is too short. You just have to get your voice out there for tomorrow you may be too late.
If you said yes to at least eight of the above, then I believe the force is strong in you. You may be among the fortunate few to take a punt on yourself and go Indie.
But wait! Before you press that enter button and send the words skimming out over the electronic waves, pause. Have you been true to yourself in your text—Really? If you are still standing upright, then there is more to tell. Go back, revisit, revise, rewrite, until hand on heart, you can say you have stripped yourself bare. When you have died a few deaths getting the novel to that place where exhaustion weeps in the arms of elation, then, you know all has been said. Now you have one last thing to do.
When you are Indie you have even more responsibility to be 100% prepared. You have got to tick all the boxes. Whether it is the story writing technique, the editing of the book, creating a professional looking book cover or using clever & economical marketing techniques to get the word out, you have to be just that much better than a traditionally published author, so you stand out. You have to become an authorpreneur—it really is just like having your own business.
Make sure your book is perfect—every infinitesimal millimetre brushed to its Sunday best—for once it is out there you will be reborn, as an author. People will actually read you. Many will love your prose; some will hate it and tell you so. Can you deal with that too? If the answer is still yes, then what are you waiting for?
Are you one of those brave souls who has gone Indie? If so, do write and share your opinion. If you are still not sure about going Indie, then you could also consider attending The Literary Conference: Writing in a Digital Age, 2013. It is one of the few conferences in London that actually addresses the Indie publishing phenomenon and gives you quick tips on what pitfalls to avoid along the way.
Laxmi Hariharan’a debut novel The Destiny of Shaitan, went to #2 on Amazon Epic Fantasy list and has won e-lit awards. With over fifteen years experience in marketing global brands, she advises authors on the best marketing strategies to benefit their journey. Find her at http://www.laxmihariharan.com