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General > Indi books vs. Traditionally published

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message 1: by Everly (new)

Everly Anders | 207 comments Mod
My husband runs a Media Company that writes sub-culture blogs. They are very successful, and I think part of that is because they discuss topics that mainstream media either doesn't know about or doesn't care about. He always tells me that he loves the fact that he doesn't have a "Gatekeeper."

I started to think about indi writing in the same way. Look at something like 50 Shades of Grey. Do you really think Random House would have picked up those books if the author did not do all the leg work first? Do you think indi books are, and can be about broader subjects then a traditionally published book?


message 2: by Lynxie (new)

Lynxie | 95 comments Without a doubt! There were very few publishing houses that would allow controversial topics. Places like Amazon and others that allow self publishing have much broader guidelines you have to abide by.

Having said that, FSoG could have been picked up by some of the 'adult entertainment' publishing houses if it was good enough. (I haven't read it yet)I have heard that it's not very well written though, so perhaps not!


message 3: by C.D. (new)

C.D. Sweitzer | 17 comments Like indie movies and music, the absence of a gatekeeper naturally allows for a broader range of creative works. Many excellent (but unusual) novels were never picked up by traditional publishers in the past, and had no other viable avenues. The indie writing movement will open the door to a new world of imagination.

However, there is a trade-off. Without a gatekeeper, the market will be (and already has been) flooded by amateurish, poorly written, and unedited stinkbombs. The challenge comes in weeding the lot, but I'm confident that some kind of system will emerge to rapidly separate objectively bad writing from the merely offbeat.


message 4: by Joyce (new)

Joyce Shaughnessy (joyceshaughnessy) | 78 comments I am writing my third book in a series, and I used Xlibris for the first two. I loved Xlibris until they recently combined with IUniverse & authorsolutions. Now everyone I previously worked withhas been either transferred to other dept or is no longer working with me. I hate it because they have made mistakes with my book (not in the book itself) but in other stuff like marketing. I want someone else's opinion about switching publishers in the midst of a three part series. I am about halfway through the third one. Thanks! Joyce A Healing Place by Joyce Shaughnessy
Blessed Are the Merciful by Joyce Shaughnessy


message 5: by Sherri (new)

Sherri Moorer (sherrithewriter) | 84 comments Absolutely, and I think that willingness to break out of the box of conventional is what will help us rise. The traditional publishing industry is declining - there aren't as many publishers out there and with ebooks on the rise they won't survive unless they break their old school mold, which they aren't willing to do. I had this conversation with my husband recently and also saw something on Facebook - music has gone digital, and now books are going the same route. Not many CD stores out there, are there? And the bookstores are closing too. I say indie authors not only need to break out of the box, but jump on the epublishing bandwagon NOW while they can get established for the big breakthrough. But that's just my opinion.

Anywhere But Here by Sherri Fulmer Moorer Blurry by Sherri Fulmer Moorer


message 6: by Jean (new)

Jean Roller (ejroller) | 3 comments I agree. I think it also opens up markets for unconventional lengths of books--in addition to subject matter. I am guessing that the popularity of books that fall between 75 and 150 pages will dramatically increase. As an author, that's freeing. You don't have to try to add fluff to hit 50,000 words. As a reader, it's nice, too. What better way to spend an evening than reading an entire book in one sitting?


message 7: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 4 comments I agree, Jean. Sometimes it is nice to sit and read a whole book in one sitting. I've enjoyed a lot of short e-books.

Changes are in the air, and the vibe from all the new writers is so exciting and fresh. Quality is hit or miss, but with the massive array of genres and the books being so inexpensive and the fact that you can just download a new book without getting out of bed, it's worth the risk!

Some e-books are free to preview a small section or chapter, so that's a good way also to weed out the undesirables. It's worth taking the few minutes.


message 8: by Rob (new)

Rob Osterman (robosterman) | 168 comments But there are two issues here:

1)Indy vs Trad publishing

2)Fan Fiction Communities

Would Random House have taken on 50Shades without knowing that there were millions of rabid Twilight fans anxious to own a copy of one of the most popular fan fics on the market? Probably not. And would the author have made such bank if she'd gone the independent route and truly self published? Again, probably not.

What's dangerous for those of us hopeful to become full time is that not only is there no gatekeeper to Indy publishing (thus there will always be questionable quality) but the traditional houses can outsource more and more of the editing work to the writers themselves.

An agent now can refuse to consider a book simply because it's not edited well. Why not? They have millions of fans out there willing and able to edit the snot out of 50Shades, why not make that more of the norm?

But at the end of the day, it's the consumers that have to decide where to put their money and for the foreseeable future that Random House label is still a stamp of "some" quality.


message 9: by David (new)

David Fleming (davidwallacefleming) | 9 comments "Random House label is still a stamp of "some" quality" Agreed.

Of course traditional publishing houses are losing revenue by allowing all these indie titles to first make money online at seventy percent royalty rates.

Also, a lot of authors are exercising their hybrid potential to hedge their bets between indie and traditional. In this unstable market, I don't blame them.


message 10: by Mhairi (new)

Mhairi Simpson (mhairisimpson) | 28 comments I fully intend to go both routes. Trad publishing still offers exposure in physical bookshops which I would be hard-pressed to achieve as a self-published author, but self-publishing is faster and would (provided I do my marketing right) provide some income sooner than via the trad route. Both have much to recommend them and I honestly think a hybrid approach is best.


message 11: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Lawston (andrewlawston) My sister-in-law works at Random House, and they're not at all worried about their future prospects. The success of Indie authors doesn't mean trad houses 'lose money'. It basically just means people are reading more, which is good for everyone, right?


message 12: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 20, 2012 03:38AM) (new)

Lots to read and comment on! I'm going to add a couple comments.

1. Like Mhairi, I am pursuing a hybrid approach, too. It makes sense. But don't forget that if your book has a nice cover and is properly edited, there's nothing in the world to stop you from taking a box of them to local stores (yes, including B&N) and consigning them. I understand that stores will take a minimum of five books on consignment and shelve them. It helps if the author agrees to refund any returns...

2. Gatekeepers
First of all, I want to say that publishers are in the business - like all businesses - to make money. They have to publish what sells. It is unfair to expect them to do otherwise, though often they do. The complaints I'm hearing is that the 'gatekeepers' are keeping just about everyone out, no matter how good, because (a) the flood of submissions has made it likely that a manuscript won't be looked at, (b) the need to publish something that sells in a weak economy makes it unlikely that an agent or publisher will take a chance on a book that doesn't fit into a pigeonhole ("So... What do you have? We're looking for multi-generational blockbusters...") If what you write doesn't fit a mold, it isn't going to be looked at. (c) Come on, now: I've seen some horrifically edited traditionally published books. (I have also seen some SP books that make me absolutely cringe.) (D) but - if someone wants to jump on the 'gatekeeper' wagon, there are some enterprising groups that will award a sort of 'seal' to SP books that fit certain criteria. If it were the Caldecott award, I'd be tempted, but for half a K I'm not going to bother.

(3) Book Length: believe it or not, based on agents'/editors' blogs, the ideal length for a traditionally published book is 100K or less. They don't want extraneous words. SP allows you to produce whatever length you think is appropriate for the story (that doesn't excuse you from murdering your darlings when necessary...)

I do have to pass on something that had me chuckling. Someone was bragging on a board (not here) that (s)he had written "Ten Novels In A Year!!! Everyone exclaimed, and I was suitably impressed, though with reservations. I looked up that author's work. The 'Novels' in question were about 67 pages apiece (16,750 - 18,425 words). Not 'novels' per the standard definition. (No, I didn't comment. She wrote constantly, was selling, and was enormously proud of the fact.)

@Andrew: exactly! When things settle down, I think the explosion of reading and new authors and the rest will end up being a positive thing for all


message 13: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I hate to say it, but while the traditional publishing industry may not be dying, it is at the point where it has a choice: adapt or be forgotten.

Using my own shopping habits as illustration, the perception of value for books is a changing game. For I guess about 13 or 14 years now, I have anxiously awaited the release of James Patterson's novels(in his series, not the standalone stuff). It has been my common practice to buy his latest and greatest within the week it comes out with the exception of if my birthday or Christmas is near I will wait, knowing I will be gifted it.

My love for his writing hasn't changed. My love for his characters hasn't changed. My love for reading has only increased if anything and I am no less aware of his books than I used to be, moreso perhaps since now he seems to be on both radio and television making sure I know about them.

So then why, for the first time ever, have I not bought the most recent Alex Cross novel as it is coming out in paperback? Because I refused to pay $20 for it in hardback. Even $13 for the kindle edition was off putting (it's dropped to $10 now that the paperback is out.)

Will I pick it up soon? Definitely. But here is the thing, I highly doubt that I am the only reader whose purchasing habits are changing in this way.

I think as a result of the pricing model, as self published titles become more acceptable, and self published authors build their following the pattern will continue and traditionally published authors and publishing houses will be left with a choice. Change their pricing or price themselves out of the market.

I don't think it will be long before more traditionally published author's look at taking the self published route. Lets look at Patterson as an example. He already has the most valuable thing that a publishing house can offer him - brand awareness. Would less people find and buy his books if he didn't have a big publisher behind him? Maybe a few. But he already is so popular and well known that I don't think his sales would suffer much. Furthermore, on a self published model he would make a larger percentage of royalties so he could price himself firmly back into the market and probably end up increasing his profits.

Does this mean he will? I have no idea. But I am fairly sure some authors will, and I am fairly sure it will make me buy their books sooner. In the meantime, books over $10 will probably be left on my To Be Bought list, instead of in my kindle being happily read alongside the wonderful books that I can read for significantly less because while the abundance of lower priced books may make me want to read more, there are still only so many hours in the day and my list of books to read is only getting longer.


message 14: by Rob (new)

Rob Osterman (robosterman) | 168 comments "Change their prices or be priced out of the market"

That only works if established and known "good" authors lower their prices through self publishing. Otherwise lower prices will be seen, by the masses, as of the same quality that the price indicates. "This book is half a Patterson novel because it's half as good".

Now if Patterson goes Self Published (and he absolutely could) that might shift things but only if he also lowers his price. If he goes in thinking "I can still charge $20 for a hardcover and just make more in royalties" then the system breaks down. You'd still have a good writer charging $20 for his book and that keeps the price points high.


message 15: by IUHoosier (new)

IUHoosier | 14 comments Kelly wrote: "...Because I refused to pay $20 for it in hardback. Even $13 for the kindle edition was off putting (it's dropped to $10 now that the paperback is out.)

Will I pick it up soon? Definitely. But here is the thing, I highly doubt that I am the only reader whose purchasing habits are changing in this way..."


You are not the only reader whose purchasing habits are changing in this way. I was spoiled by the initial $9.99 or less of Kindle's first three years and refuse to pay over that amount for an e-book. Since I refuse to buy DTBs, I am stuck with whatever I can find for less. Luckily, there's a plethora of titles that interest me and I can play the waiting game indefinitely while the market decides its direction.

On a side note - I am currently reading the 50 Shades trilogy and have to comment on someone else's post that the Twilight fans have initiated its success. While it might have started that way, the trilogy has definitely mainstreamed. I have only picked up the books because literally every female friend I know has read them and insists I should read them, too. Even my 70 year old mother in law has read them. And very few of these ladies have any idea that the series was started as fan fic for the Twilight series; most of them, unless they have teen daughters, don't even have a clue what the Twilight series is....


message 16: by Mhairi (new)

Mhairi Simpson (mhairisimpson) | 28 comments The price thing is somewhat unfortunate. 99c ebooks have effectively produced a mass of people who refuse to pay any more than that. What was initially used as the only thing indie authors had to make themselves stand out against traditionally published books - a low price point - has come to be seen by some (and I'm not accusing anyone here of this) as a valid price for a year's work or more. They say "well, the author can sell millions of copies and make millions at that price." Yeah. If millions of people found them and liked their stuff. More to the point, they're expecting ten hours or so of entertainment for 99c. Doesn't sound right to me.

Nor am I defending trad publishing's sometimes ridiculously high prices on e-books - it sounds daft to everyone except the publisher with overheads to cover to have an electronic book cost the same as a print one. Hoping a happy medium will be found at some point. Already the 99c price point has become saturated and most readers are turning away from it because they have found that an unfortunately high proportion of books sold at that price are just crap.


message 17: by John (new)

John David (johndavidauthor) | 51 comments Already the 99c price point has become saturated and most readers are turning away from it because they have found that an unfortunately high proportion of books sold at that price are just crap.

Which is why I suggest that nobody prices anything at less than $1.00, if only for the psychological value of not being at the .99 price point.

I have my two strongest titles priced at $4.99 for the ebooks, and $11.99 for the paperback versions. The audiobooks price in the middle of those two extremes.

Keep in mind that these are non-fiction titles, and are intended to deliver strong value for the money spent.

I recognize and acknowledge that the economy is not strong, disposable income is low, and even though my books are "worth" much more than what I charge, I still want to do my readers the service of not having to forgo buying the book because of price.

I also do not want to devalue my work by not charging enough for it, and thus the price points already discussed.

By now, I believe it would be difficult to find a reader, even a "hard-core" fan, of any author, who would strongly defend an ebook price of more than $9.99.

The sooner that the trad publishers acknowledge this new reality, and adjust their royalty share accordingly, the more likely they are to survive, and to retain their authors.

Or to acquire new up-and-coming talent, for that matter.

I for one would rather make $3.50 on 10k copies of my work, than .50c on 50k copies--and so would every other author that I know or have heard from, and not just from the pure economic perspective.

Why? Because my books are worth MORE than .50c to me, and it is insulting to be offered that as "fair compensation," even if I was guaranteed X number of sales.

Every author, from SK and AH to me (LOL) must focus on delivering VALUE, in the form of well-written, engaging, and well-formatted works of literature.

Such authors will do just fine. Those that do not, especially the SP or "indie," will become irrelevant, as the traditional publishers are fast becoming.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Interesting points made.
After thinking things through, I raised the price of my ebooks by $1 (to $4.98). And then I sat back to see what would happen to my sales. So far they are going along with my sales' current trend. A slight increase, overall after a dramatic increase when I started actualy promoting my books (and I don't mean spamming).

The comments about free books (excepting a two day promotion) made me think, as did $.99 books. Some good well-selling SP books that I would put on a par with mine for quality are priced at over $6.99 and doing fine.

So I think I'll keep my prices where they are.


message 19: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Eliason (RachelEliason) | 102 comments In the past traditional publishers have used three arguments for why authors needed them. With the huge technological shifts going on right now all three arguments are being undermined.

1.Traditional publishers can print in bulk, which is the only way to be economical and make money.
Problem: My self published collection hasn't sold great, but it's in the black. The logic of bulk only makes sense for a small number of best sellers (and only for print books). Self publishing and small specialty publishing houses seem to make more sense in this economy.

2. Traditional publishers are the only way to get into major book stores.
Problem: Except for Amazon, which accounts for something like 60 percent of the ebook market. With more and more shoppers buying online, the need to get into B&N is slipping everyday.

3.Traditional publishers serve as gatekeepers, eliminating poorly written books.
Problem: GoodReads suggestions and reviews do a much better job of telling me which books I will enjoy or not. Amazon reviews are second. The stamp approval of some publishing house almost never tells me if I will enjoy the read or not.


message 20: by Ron (new)

Ron Heimbecher (RonHeimbecher) | 42 comments I think most of us miss a psychological key in the 99-cent book. As Apple found with music and apps early on, 99-cents is probably the perfect get-your-feet-wet price. Enough that the reader feels some investment in the book, yet a minimal price to try a new writer, a new series, etc.


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