Friday, April 10, 2015

Three Reasons Indie Publishing was Right For Me

It’s official. I’m still an author, but I’m going solo. The Windrider Saga is reborn, this time as a publication of Realm Makers Media (which is me, don’t be fooled.) Some of you might wonder why I’ve decided remove these books from the world of traditional publishing (which means you send a book to a publishing house, and if they accept it, they edit and product it), so let me try to break that down.

Previously published titles are a hard (if not impossible) sell to agents*
The first two books of The Windrider Saga (Divine Summons and A Greater Strength) had an average market performance for fantasy released by a small publisher in the Christian market. The books earned out (meaning my publisher recouped all of their production expense, including the advance they paid me) and they a number of copies around the average for this niche. Through that lens, they are not failed books.

However, take that lens away, and their performance is not worth an agent’s time to try to resell. They don’t stand out in the numbers department to make them a good risk for a bigger publisher to take. Publishers are growing more and more risk-averse as the market continues to undergo shifts. Books like mine aren’t a bottom-line slam dunk, so why waste the time in waiting for the rejections?
Disclaimer: for an undiscovered author, I still believe there are significant benefits to pursuing publication with a large publishing house.

If you can hit the acquisitions lottery and find that magical combination of your best work hitting the desk of an editor who’s ready to acquire your kind of story and can get it through a committee of folks who believe that editor’s inclinations, then that is truly awesome for you. You will learn a ton about the process, you have a chance to be mentored by an experienced professional (your editor[s]) and you will be part of a machine that has the capacity to get your book in front of retailers and readers. By all means, take that chance if it’s extended to you by a reputable, experienced company.

In MY situation, however, the previous publication seriously undermines the plausibility of an agent/editor going to bat my Windrider books, and the chances of those who manage the bottom line biting is even less.

Hence: go indie or accept the “out of print” status and move on. I’m not ready to be done with Vinyanel and the clan.

*Why do I specifically lean toward agents here? Because if I’m going to go traditional at this stage of my career, I want my books to be able to go to houses that only take agented manuscripts.

I’d rather make a buck a book instead of $0.15-0.30
Some folks are probably saying, “I know, off hand, a half dozen small publishing houses that would consider reprinting your books.” Yep. I know that’s true, and I know a lot of fine folks who run small houses.

However, these books have already been edited. They already have cover art. Buying ISBNs, formatting in Word, and loading to Amazon is not rocket science. The main benefits a small publisher brings to the table are moot points for these books. I just want them back out there so they can continue to find readers.

Granted, we all know 70% of zero is still zero—so now that Divine Summons is available again, (wait, what? See below.) I need to find new ways to bust my kiester in selling this book. I would have to do that either way, indie or repubbed through a small house. As an indie author, all the sweat is mine, but so is all the reward.

Just as a painful illustration—in one day of selling a single book and having it borrowed twice on Kindle Unlimited, I have topped the last royalty check I received on another of my books, traditionally published. Each copy I sell of Divine Summons as an indie is going to yield the same profit it would have taken selling 4.5 books partnering with a publisher. So in this scenario, indie is the way to go.

I want books available on my timeline
The time to market for a traditionally published author is out of his or her hands. In running the yearly Realm Makers conference, it’s just not acceptable for me to show up this coming August in a situation where my entire body of novel length work is out of print. Some of you may think that’s less of a big deal than I do, but this was a line in the sand for me. By controlling the output (as much as life lets me) there will be no apologies or missed deadlines, barring natural disasters or family crises. That’s important to me. I would rather take the blame for what’s not out there than have everyone pat my back with a “there-there” over blunders that were beyond my control. A bit of a control freak? I can admit that. The added bonus is I will now be able to empathize with people who have journeyed two of the three publishing routes. (Those routes being Indie, Small Press, and Big Press)

What’s ahead?
Now that Divine Summons is ready in ebook format the goal is to get at least A Greater Strength, and Lord willing, the revised edition of Curse Bearer out before August. Unless I farm out the formatting and prepress work on these, I probably won’t have print books, but that’s OK for now.

Beyond that, I have an editing pass and cover revision to do on Valor’s Worth, a full edit to get done on a novelette called Delquessa’s Lament (which tells the origin story of the dragon-kin), and the sequel to Curse Bearer is done and in need of a full edit. Because I am ridiculously aggressive in my expectations, I hope to have all that completed by the end of 2015.

For now, if you have not yet joined the adventure with Vinyanel Ecleriast and the budding Windrider Battalion, please make your way to Amazonand get your copy today. (I am not doing a full promotion of the book until Tuesday, April 14th, but you can get a jump and say you heard it here first.) Or gift one to a friend. Review, tweet, post, and spread the word. You fine folks are my army! I want to keep writing adventures for you, so quite frankly, the more copies I can sell of Divine Summons, the more likely it will be that I can keep spinning capers.

On April 14th, 2015, I am cooking up some release promotions, which will involve a giveaway of a big, beautiful poster of Windrider cover art, among other hijinks. Keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for that.


Thank you for all your encouragement. It truly makes the difference between “Why do I bother?” and artistic momentum.

2 comments:

  1. I have the Kindle version of Curse Bearer. If you make a compelling print version of the new revised edition, I will buy it. I'm not interested in another ebook, though.

    I also have the printed version of The Windrider Saga, which you signed. A large part of the appeal of your work for me is the sense of hand-craftedness. The sense of meticulous craft -- sub-creation in both a broader and more literal way -- comes through to some degree with the ebooks, but real physical editions serve your handcraft style well.

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    1. I hear what you are saying, and I do hope to create print versions as well down the road. I am personally still a bigger fan of paper pages myself, and I admit to buying hard copies of the books I am most emotionally invested in.

      Part of the reason I am holding off on the paperback editions is just what you say--I want the design elements of the paper books to be lovely enhancements to the books, and that is taking time. But we'll get there eventually.

      Thank you for your continued encouragement.

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