Indie Publishing, a guest post by Ken Lizzi
Any new endeavor, any new project comes accompanied by equal parts worry and excitement. It’s a step into the unknown, with outcomes you can’t wholly predict. It could be a kick in the pants — an appropriately ambiguous phrase, I think, since the new project might be a lot of fun, or it might be a pain in the keister.
I’m venturing out into a personal terra incognita myself. Indie Publishing. A frightening new land, the very name of which is laden with preconceptions. I’ve steered clear of it thus far, finding homes with publishers for all my novels to date. I wanted that…prestige, I suppose. There is a certain comfort that accompanies placing a novel with a publisher: you’ve established that at least someone thinks your book is good, good enough to invest the time and resources required to publish it. And then there’s the knowledge that someone else is now shouldering the rest of the work: producing the cover, formatting, distribution, marketing, etc. You can get back to writing, let the publisher publish.
There’s also a degree of snobbery involved, let’s be honest. There is the notion that independently published books, self-published books, are little better — if at all — than vanity projects. There’s the commonly held prejudice that such books are released by the authors only because no publisher would touch them, the corollary being that having a publisher for your book is a hallmark of quality. This latter proposition is clearly nonsense, easily disproved by reading some of what publishers have deemed worthy.
But the self-publishing stigma is persistent and deep-rooted. I’m as guilty of harboring the prejudice as anyone. In fairness, you can find evidence to support the notion; it’s as easy to find poor quality indie work as it is poor quality traditionally published work.
The path to success I’d plotted for myself traced the conventional route on my mental map, and I rode each new book to publication, never considering publishing one myself. Boss was merely another mile-marker on that map. I found a home for it with a publisher. I received encouraging comments. In fact, the editor suggested I write sequels, with the goal of rapid release, one after the other. This wasn’t what I’d had in mind; staid, conventional me wanted to wait until sales results came in to indicate the level of interest before I descended down into the word mines once more. But, willing to do my part, I set aside other projects and spent a year writing sequels.
After all that effort on my part, and additional steps by the publisher to see the manuscript to print, I was informed that the publisher was cutting back on the number of releases it wanted to commit to. Well, publishing is a business. Taking the decision as a personal affront would have been a) delusional (dollars and cents doubtless prompted the culling, not some animosity to Yours Truly) and b) a pathetic indulgence in victimhood mentality. Suck it up and drive on, soldier. So, I asked to be released from the contract, and we parted ways with, I believe, goodwill on both sides.
It was about that time that I began to hear the proselytizing siren song of the indie authors. No one knocked on my door and handed me a tract. There was no coordinated campaign of conversion. But at conventions, at gatherings, at dinners, I’d find myself chatting with successful indie authors. (Hello, Sarah. Howdy, Blaze.) They were all encouraging, and enthusiastic about the benefits of self-publishing: the freedom, the opportunities, the larger chunk of the royalty pie. Over the last several months I’ve been deluged with with good advice, best practices, tips, tricks, and on-line resources.
And I have succumbed. Why? Because it is new. I want to explore this new land. I’m trepidatious, sure. Where’s my publisher to turn to if I get lost along the way? But more importantly, I’m excited. This is a new activity I want to try my hand at. I want to learn. I want to tackle the challenge.
I don’t see myself abandoning the traditional model entirely. Frankly, I’m too lazy. So my path forward will probably be a hybrid one. But I want to see where indie publishing can take me. Why don’t you check in on my progress from time-to-time? Boss: Falchion’s Company Book One is now available. And you can drop in for my weekly musings and nonsense at www.kenlizzi.net.
A city governed by wizards can still have an underbelly that is governed by crime lords. Out-of-work mercenary, Falchion, arrives in the city of Groft and signs on with the boss of the organized crime outfit. But when Falchion’s distaste for the work angers the Boss, his only move is to become the Boss himself. Even if he succeeds, Falchion will have more trouble in store, trouble that his sword alone may be unable to cut through, for there is a connection between the underground criminal organization and the wizards in their lofty towers, and no one received wizardly permission for a change in leadership.