Huffpost Books
THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Rachel Thompson Headshot

Not Reading Indie Books Yet? You're Missing Out

Posted: Updated:

As an indie author since 2010 (and author consultant since 2011), I've watched indies break down stigma barriers ('vanity publishing' is a term rarely even heard anymore), and create bestsellers -- both nationally and internationally -- of authors who might otherwise never have had their work published at all.

Let's deconstruct.

The State of Indie

David Mamet famously decided to publish his Three Stories, a novella and two short stories, this past year. His reasoning? "Publishing is like Hollywood -- nobody ever does the marketing they promise."

Many indie authors (and traditional) see a departure from the stigma that 'all indie authors suck,' which is commonly seen in opinion pieces by non-authors in large publications.

Today, it isn't about whether or not indie authors suck. It's about what we're doing to change the industry.

Amy Edelman created IndieReader back in 2007. I started reading her site long before I ever published my first book. She has a great vision: provide professional resources, up to date information, and reviews for indie authors. With advances in digital publishing, the dream that we could still release terrific books without giving away control (and most of our profits) became a reality.

And boy has it grown!

"Bowker, the ISBN people, recently reported that the number of self-published books in 2012 rose 59 percent over 2011, growing to over 391,000 titles in 2012. That's a lot of indie." - Amy Edelman, introduction to Indie Authors Naked

I learned early on that I am a writer, not an editor, proofreader, graphic artist, or formatter. I pay people good money to wrap up my work in a pretty package and tie it with a bow. But prettily wrapped crap is still crap, right?

That's where the argument of having a publishing house or agent 'vet' us comes in. Where readers and indie authors disagree is that we have faith in readers. Readers have been reading for a very long time -- if they hate a book, they tell the world! Same thing if they love one.

Enter Indie Authors Naked.

Take a look at IndieReader's new Indie Authors Naked, a series of essays and interviews with some massively successful indie authors (James Franco, Hugh Howey, etc., all on the NY Times and USA Today bestseller lists), as well as those maybe less known but well reviewed and respected (Eden Baylee, Jessica Redmerski, Raine Miller, Alexander Greenwood, Toby Neal, etc.). Many have now signed on with hybrid and traditional publishers!

Thanks to digital technology, professionals who know what they're doing, and huge changes in the publishing industry, self-publishing is here to stay -- and growing! And via interviews and essays, Indie Authors Naked aims to highlight the best of the best.

(Full disclosure: I was asked to contribute an essay to the book.) The authors involved in Indie Authors Naked are leaders in the indie community in a myriad of ways: James Franco (actor, author, artist), Hugh Howey (of Wool fame -- optioned for film -- and a heck of a nice guy), Ted Heller (yes, Joseph Heller's son, and a talented author in his own right), Eden Baylee, and too many more to name, each author has carved out a way to work outside the confines of traditional publishing and still have success.

Publishing 3.0

As more and more traditional authors leave that system and help create new models (hybrid publishers are growing increasingly popular), indie publishing will continue to improve and evolve.

Successful indie authors are smart: we are in this because we love to write, but also because we bring business sense (or learn as we go) to this endeavor. We experiment with marketing strategies and pricing, promotion and connection... because we can.

As this year moves forward, you will see more indies signing with hybrids--my deal with Booktrope, for example, is only for print (at this point), at my request. I like my 70 percent of each $5.99 eBook sale and the fact that anyone can download an eBook at this point (with the free Kindle reading app) and have it in seconds (gotta love that tech). I take advantage of Amazon's KDP Select program as well -- the occasional free download absolutely positively influences rankings.

Are you still not reading indie authors because someone told you we're all terrible? Or maybe you read some with errors and wrote us all off? Try again. Read a free sample and then purchase... or not. Many of us have been writing for twenty years or more, and are just now seeing 'overnight' success.

Readers have spoken -- they want great books. They don't care how the books came to be -- just that it keeps their interest. Make that decision yourself.