What makes an author independent? Why do Authors go indie? How do they decide on self publishing versus traditional publishing? If you’ve ever wondered these things, then watch today’s crazy video and read the author’s stories about why they went indie and find out!
Our definition of Indie.
Our authors are independent in that they do not depend on someone else to decide whether, or not, they can express their voice in the world. They create the new trends, offer the new adventures, and make you think, feel and wonder anew. Awesome Indies Approved authors have exacting standards. They choose this path, not because they have no other choice, but because they choose independence.
Read an inspiring article on what it means to be an independent author.
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Now meet some of our authors and hear their stories.
I became an independent author after quite a lot of experience with traditional publishing, some it good, some of it terrible. The good experiences were with educational publishers, like Oxford University Press, who published over 20 of my books with great care and attention. But my experiences with agents and publishers in mass market publishing were much less positive. I had several novels published – each time thinking it was the breakthrough – only to find there was no publicity, no support, and so little information that I wasn’t even told how many books I had sold. You write the book, deliver it, and then feel cut out of the process. Whereas now, as an independent author the books feel truly mine. I am responsible for every detail – not just the story, but the editing, cover design, marketing and publicity as well. I can find out on a daily basis how many books I have sold. If a reader points out an error I can correct it immediately. If I want to change the cover I can do it. I see all the reviews as they come in. And I get support from other talented writers, like those on the Awesome Indies website. Come on in, and join the revolution!
I’d always longed to write from a young age and after I’d written my first novel, I set about finding an agent and publisher. After many months of telephone calls and letter sending I found both. However, neither party fulfilled their promises and to cut a long story short, I ended up doing almost everything, including all my own marketing – while they drew off the cream in sales. After a couple of years and with another novel about to be published, I thought why not go it alone? I have the time and skills and knew I could do a better job in publicising myself and my work…so that’s exactly what I did. Two years on and I’ve had thousands of fabulous sales on all my books (10 published in all so far with 2 more to follow shortly) and I’m happy to say, I’ve done it myself. Of course I’ve met lots of lovely people along my writing journey, friends, other authors and readers/fans. Without any of them I’d never have made it. So a huge ‘Thank you everyone’ for helping me become a successful Indie writer – I’ve loved the experience and I’m looking forward to many more years to come!
Why I’m an indie: Why am I indie? Do I really need to answer that question? Honestly, look at the titles of my books. Doodling? Flidderbugs? Magnus Opum? What publisher in their right mind would want to take that on. Sometimes I’m not even sure I want to take me on. Sometimes I think my stories should be consigned to the bottom of the slush pile in my mind. But then I begin to think that I kind of like them, and if I kind of like them maybe other people might also kind of like them. And that’s why I’m indie
I had an agent for my first book, ‘Lethal Inheritance’. The feedback we got from publishers was that the novel was good, but the timing wasn’t right for various reasons. An editor at Allen and Unwin, a major Australian publisher, loved the book, but wouldn’t take it on because their marketing department already had too many YA fantasy books to promote. By the time that fell through, I was so sick of waiting for something to happen (it had been two years by that stage) that I decided to add a publishing arm to the production company I ran with my husband. I didn’t even try the smaller publishers. I just couldn’t be bothered. I’m a multi-talented person, so I enjoy having an input in all areas of the publication process and I like being in control of my own work. I still have to get my books approved by my partner before I publish, and he’s fussy, but that’s good.
Clive S Johnson
Going back to my first novel, Leiyatel’s Embrace, it was a writer friend who, having read the first decently edited manuscript, said I’d never get a publisher. The work was simply too long to be considered, she’d said, not from an unknown writer. Too great a financial risk, you see. It was her throwaway comment about self-publishing that made me prick up my ears.
The reason I chose self-publishing is simple: Identity found no traction with traditional publishing houses. The consensus, to the extent there was one, was that it straddled the line between commercial and literary fiction. Ten years ago, my only option would have been tossing it in a desk drawer and forgetting I ever wrote it. Thanks to the self-publishing revolution, books like Identity have a chance to reach an audience. Every time I hear from a reader who was up late because she just couldn’t put it down, I believe I’ve accomplished what I set out to do: Tell a story that would entertain people. Even more than writers, though, the big winners in this revolution are readers. Anyone willing to invest a little time and not much cash can find some great stories out there, stories that 10 years ago never would have made it out of the writer’s desk drawer.
For over a year, my agent tried to find a traditional publisher for my first book H10 N1. Each rejection had a different reason for why the publisher was turning it down. Because the book has an apocalyptic theme, both my agent and I agreed the book needed to get ‘out there’ quickly to compete in this popular market. And, if the book had been picked up by a traditional publisher, it would have languished for two more years before finally hitting the bookshelves. We agreed that my best solution was to self-publish. H10 N1 became a best-seller on Amazon
I used to play in a rock band. If somebody told me then that I had to get a record deal before I could play my music to an audience, I’d have laughed until my guitar strings snapped as I thrashed out my latest folk-rock ballad to a pub full of appreciative supporters. Yet the publishing industry was in that powerful position; preventing readers from access to a wide breadth of material, and censoring creativity according to narrow commercial philosophies. But with the advent of the Indie Author, writers now control their own works and the audience they aim for. Just as a million garage bands and musicians have been doing for five generations. Publishing is simply catching up with a tried and tested creative model. Indie is the new mainstream.
The Englishman, my first independently published novel, became a book after I started telling the story in short chapters on my blog, Helena’s London Life. It seemed natural to publish the whole story on Kindle, rather than approach literary agents or publishers. The Englishman was quite a success, so I decided to publish my two other novels, Coffee and Vodka and The Red King of Helsinki, in the same way. Now I’m working on a sequel to The Englishman, and enjoying the direct contact with my readers and being in control of my own work.
I got told by a well-known publisher that I’d written a brilliant book, but getting published was as much about timing as great writing – in other words, the time was not right for ‘Weekend in Weighton’. That’s when I decided to go down the indie route. As time has gone on I have become more and more thankful that I made that choice. The best part has been retaining control over editors, editorial suggestions, covers, pricing, promotional activity, timing, royalty rates and sales information. It has been a tough journey, but I’ve learnt a lot and enjoyed every minute. Oh, and that publisher got one thing right!
I connected with an Indie collective Indie-Visible who impressed me greatly with their independence and talents. Their encouragement and collaborative support was just the push I’d been waiting for to get my book out to the world. And the timing couldn’t have been better. Indie books have found a strong foothold in the publishing world, and they continue to grow ever stronger.
The novel that became Talion underwent several revisions. My agent shopped the manuscript aggressively but found editors weren’t interested. He suggested radical revision. The hero was a lower-class fifteen-year-old girl named Lu. To conform to the serial-killer genre, the novel needed an adult hero. Another issue was my writing style, which is a bit too literary for commercial fiction.
I did the rewrite. In the end, though, I couldn’t abandon Lu. The revision was overlong with two characters competing to be the hero. Unsurprisingly it didn’t sell, and the agent and I parted ways.
I revised again – this time the way I wanted. I queried a couple of agents, but something in me resisted. What if the new agent demanded radical changes? The stigma against self-publishing held me back. I didn’t want to be seen as a loser. But I finally overcame my vanity, formed Cantraip Press, and published Talion.
Ever since my teens, I’d wanted to write a vampire novel, but the first time I really found myself with enough time was in the months between finishing university and starting work. An agent told me she liked my novel and thought that it brought something new to the vampire genre. The publishers she approached said the same thing, but insisted that the market was too saturated with vampire books. I was beyond frustrated. I had a book that everyone was saying was perfectly good and likely to be enjoyed by vampire fans, but I couldn’t get it in front of any of the people who’d be likely to have fun reading it. Following a recommendation from a friend who’d self-published, I suddenly had a conviction that this was the right thing to do. The big publishers’ concern was whether the book could sell enough copies to make them a tidy profit. I just wanted to see my story in print and have the thrill of knowing that some people I’d never met were reading it. Since then, I’ve had reasonable sales, but just as importantly, have had lots of reviews, participated in interviews and been featured on blogs. It’s terrifying to think that if I’d held out for a traditional publisher, my manuscript would probably still have been languishing on my computer instead of being exposed to all sorts of people.
Did you enjoy the video? It was made by a group of Communications, Media Arts and Production students from the University of Technology Sydney for a documentary assessment. More videos from the director K. Rose Newland can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3aasjvXbI7g_j97qzt-WHQ/videos
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