Indie Publishing – A Few Pros & Cons


By Betty Thomason Owens

Welcome and Happy October! Our theme this month is Self Publishing, aka Indie Publishing. I hope you’ll drop back by from time-to-time and see what we’ve found for you.

It is a proven fact; there is money to be made in Indie publishing. Many among the traditionally published are even gaining the rights for, and re-releasing some of their earlier works.

Is it easy to do? It can be. It’s certainly not as labor intensive as the photo. That’s the Gutenberg press version.

Does it require an investment from the author? Usually. Below, I will describe a typical bottom-line for a well-developed project.

Step 1: Write the story. Okay, you knew that one. You have to write your story, novella, or novel. When it’s complete, and you’re satisfied with it, move to Step 2.

Step 2: My step 2 takes time and effort: Critiquing. You need to find a good critique partner or group to help you whip the manuscript (MS) into shape. You wouldn’t mix a cake batter and put the bowl on the table for your guests to eat. It’s not finished. You need to bake it. This is what the critiquing process does.

How do you find a critique partner or group? This is not your mother, or your best friend, or your ninth-grade English teacher. This is someone who will read through your chapters with a critical eye and tell you what they honestly think about it. They’ll help with grammar and spelling and writing rules. A good critique partner is a blessing from God. I found mine when I joined American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). This required an investment of the annual fee. Also look for neighborhood and regional writers groups, if you prefer in person. I prefer online via email. But remember, the word “partner” suggests working together. Unless you pay for a critique, you will usually be required to read and critique their work, as well.

Step 3: Once you’ve gone through your MS again, taking into account advice from your critique partner(s), you are ready to move on to the next step. If you think it’s publishing, think again. Now is the time to find a good editor. You can find freelance editors through your writers group. You’ll want someone trustworthy. If you want to hold the cost down, do Steps 1 & 2 to the best of your ability. Don’t expect an editor to make all those changes for you. The cost of a good editor can vary, depending on the word count and the work required.

Don’t publish something half-baked.

Step 4: We are still in the editing process. When you receive your MS back from the editor, make the changes as necessary. You may not agree with everything, but you can communicate back and forth. If your edits are extensive and require much in the way of rewrites, you may want to repeat Step 2 and 3 at this point. I see that grimace on your face. All of this effort can reap rewards in good reviews and additional sales.

You may be able to send through only the changed portions to save time and money.

Step 5: You can begin Step 5 while you’re waiting on the edits. Think about what you want on the cover. My advice: Don’t do this yourself. Hire a graphic artist. You do not want to end up on someone’s “Really Bad Cover” list.

Your book’s cover is the icing on the cake.

There are plenty of good artists available, and they are often quite reasonable. They take care of legal purchases of artwork and the kind of things I know very little about. They usually send you to a site like Shutterstock and ask you to pick out some photographs that embody your ideas. They will also either read through your MS or read your synopsis (condensed version of your story)  and get a feel for the book.

A good graphic artist stays up with what sells and will design a good cover and give you everything you need for your upload.

Step 6:

This really is the simplest route for someone new to Indie publishing. Unless you want to pay someone to do all the work. Amazon Kindle walks you through the process and if you need help, they have that available. They also have Createspace, which will put your work out there in printed form. It’s a learning process, but if you’re serious about it, you can do it.

Step 7: Pushing “send” is not the end.

Once you’ve received that message from Createspace or Kindle saying your work is approved and available online, you may want to sit back and breathe a sigh of relief.

But this is only the beginning. Now, you have to market what you’ve published.

One reason I suggest Amazon and Createspace, especially if you are a first-timer–they will help you with marketing. They profit from your sales. They want you to succeed and they want you to come back. So utilize their services and benefits.

This is by no means an extensive list. I’ve condensed the process somewhat. Okay, I condensed it a lot.

Cost: Set yourself a reasonable budget. You can get by cheaper, but if you are a beginning writer, it’s worth it to spend a little up front. This cost can be recouped with sales. And since it’s indie published, most of the money from sales flows into your bank account.

The cons of Indie Publishing:

  1. You do all the work yourself.
  2. You pay all upfront costs and fees.
  3. You do all your own sales and marketing (pretty much the same with traditional publishing).
  4. Many won’t take you seriously as a writer.

Again, this is not an extensive list of cons. Can you think of some that I have missed? If so, please leave them in the comments.

Do you have questions, or comments regarding Indie Publishing? Please leave those in the comments section, as well. Share something from your personal experience. Have you benefited from Indie Publishing? Would you recommend it to inexperienced writers? Let us know your thoughts.
For a look at my recently re-released Indie-published books, click here: Jael of Rogan Novels