Do I Have to Buy Indie Books?

This is the fourth post in a series.
Part 1: Are Print Publishers Really Doomed?
Part 2: Are Print Books Really Doomed?
Part 3: Do I HAVE To Read E-Books?
Part 4: Do I Have to Buy Indie Books?

Even if you’ve braved the new frontiers and you’re the proud owner of your very own e-book reader, you’ve got yet another hurdle to face.  Possibly, you’re not even aware of this one yet.

Do you, or do you not, buy indie published novels?

If you’re wondering what indie published means, or why it’s even a question, then it’s possible you’ve already bought one or two indie authors and not realized it.

Or possibly, you’re at the other end of the spectrum:  Rabidly against ever buying anything that isn’t published by one of the big five New York publishers.


End of Discussion.

Just in case you’re new to the e-book world, or the whole indie authors/indie publishing discussion, I’ll do a quick summary for you, although it really deserves a whole post, or series of posts, for itself.

Traditional publishers (also known as royalty-paying publishers, or legacy publishers) are the type of publisher you find in New York.  For years, I’ve lumped them together as “New York” publishers, regardless of where they’re actually located, although these days, I’m leaning towards calling them legacy publishers because that seems to be becoming the industry adopted term for them.

These publishers followed the original publishing model of agreeing to publish an author’s manuscript, taking all profits, and paying the author an agreed-upon portion of those profits — royalties.

Indie Authors are the “new” style of publishing that is sweeping the publishing industry.  They eschew legacy publishers, and instead publish their books themselves, using publishing platforms offered by Amazon, Smashwords, and a dozen other retail outlets.  They publish in e-book format, and often also in print.

Indie authors are self-publishers, but self-publishing has lost any trace of the dishonour it used to have only a decade ago.  Indie Authors are earning small and large fortunes, landing on best seller lists, and making names for themselves.

But all is not rosy in Indie Publishing.

Indie Authors and their books have troubles getting reviews, and when they do get reviews, the reviews are often blatantly biased against the author and their book because of the indie status.

There is a perception that because the book was “self-published” it can’t be any good.  And there are terrible indie titles out there, no argument.  Indie publishing lets any author publish anything.  So an author with little skill and no self-editing abilities can put their self-admired clunker up on Amazon inside an hour, for the world to puke over.

But that’s what makes indie publishing the perfect business model for the fiction world.

Yep , you heard me right.

I have a post coming up that will go into this a lot deeper, but basically, the legacy publishing model has a handful of editors sitting in New York who decide for the rest of the world what you will — and will not — get to read.  And when.

As these same editors are only publishing x number of titles a month, there was a small mountain of damn good authors and brilliant books that never got to see the light of day.  There was also a very large mountain’s worth of crappy books, too.  But the editors were holding it all back.

The indie publishing model doesn’t hold anything back.  You get to choose, instead.

So yeah, there are going to be more clunkers, and so-so novels out there, and you’ll have to learn how to spot them at fifteen paces, and before you put your money down.

But as the average indie novel is worth about $2, even if you end up buying a clunker you’re not going to be out by the $12 most legacy publishers are squeezing you for these days.

There are some frankly brilliant novels being published independantly.  They never got past the NY gatekeepers because they were just a little bit different, and couldn’t be slotted into a generic fiction shelf.  Editors got nervous because they couldn’t figure out how to market the novel…so they said no.

There are niche novels, that appeal to subsets of subsets of genre fiction readers that editors said no too because they couldn’t see a profit in it…but an indie author makes money from their first sale onwards.

And there are dozens and dozens of novels that are out of print, or been discarded from NY houses as “no longer profitable” that authors are tweaking, polishing and publishing themselves, so their readers can have access to them once again.

Every day there are more and more authors moving over to the indie model of publishing.  They look at the profits involved, and the 100% freedom and total control of their own careers, and make the leap.  Sometimes they’ll try it with just one book.  And one book is all it takes.

If someone like New York Times best-selling author Barry Eisler can walk away from a six-figure NY deal, and indie publish instead, you know it’s not a passing fad.

Indie publishing is making legacy publishers very, very nervous.  There is a flood of hyperbole and vitriole about the evils of indie publishing, indie authors and their products.  If you trace the more vehement reports back to their source, you nearly always find it originates from someone with interests in legacy publishing.

Authors who have been successfully publishing with the royalty model for decades and are entrenched in the system are also resisting change like mad — of course they are.  They’re afraid:  Afraid to change, afraid of losing income, status, of simply having to change the way they’ve been doing things for years…and perhaps failing.

If you listen and absorb all the negativity pouring forth about indie novels, you will be hypnotized into never daring buy one, ever.

So…you can stick your nose in the air and say no to buying indie novels.

But you’ll lose out on a vast sea of wonderful fiction.

(This is the last post of the series)



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