Friday, 14 March 2014

Indie authors are the cool kids now

I started writing in 2006. In that time, there have been three distinct phases of self-publishing:

1. Only losers self-publish. It's an admission that your writing isn't good enough - and besides, you're using up your First Rights and no publisher will ever consider a book that's been self-published. (I've never found anyone to satisfactorily explain what first rights are.)

2. Self-publishing can be a good way to get the traditional deal you've always wanted - but you have to sell loads of copies on your own before a publisher will be interested.

3. Self-publishing is the best option: you'll make more money, retain your rights and have full control. Who wants a trad deal anyway, giving away your rights in perpetuity for a measly advance, no marketing, and a couple of months in the few remaining bookshops before your book is pulped?

Because these days, indie authors are the cool kids.


  1. This short history of self-publishing is backed by all the facts you have published or linked to in previous posts for which I thank you.

    I decided to self-publish the day I saw a newspaper article about a number of well known authors' first three chapters were rejected by traditional publishers or their agents. Jane Austen was amongst them. When I realized that the initial readers were not even up to recognizing those whom they should, what was the point of even the best of writers trying to be traditionally published.

  2. Anna, I've been meaning to blog about Jane Austen's difficulties selling her books.

    CC, what surprises me is that people are still putting themselves through the submissions process, as if nothing in publishing has changed.

  3. Lexi, yes. And it's not just self-published/indie writers talking about publishing; more and more traditionally published writers are coming forward and blogging about their personal experience with traditional publishing--and it's not a pretty story. You have to be truly asleep at the keyboard not to notice and connect the dots.

  4. Quantum gave me this link:, demonstrating that even ostensibly satisfied trad pub authors are leaving the fold.

  5. I saw a post yesterday from an Indian writer saying that the Indian publishing industry needed to wake up too.

    I wonder if the publishing industry could be put forward for the Darwin awards yet? Lumbering towards extinction comes to mind.

    The Bronte sisters had a few problems getting published too. We all know they had to pretend to be male - or was it just one of them?

  6. Joe Konrath thinks Big Publishing is doomed. I'm not so sure. It'll be interesting watching what happens in the next few years.

  7. hey saw you made 2nd round of ABNA!! congrats.

  8. Thank you, Michele - and I see you got through too! Woop woop!

    I'd put ABNA out of my mind till your comment and it took me five minutes to find the list :o)

  9. Sorry, ma'am, late again. I'll go and stand in the corner.

    First rights... In the days when I used to visit wannabe-writer websites (which I would advise wannabes to avoid), it kept coming up. I never understood it.

    If you self-publish, the rights to your book are yours to do with what you will. Sell them to a big publisher, for example. All that the BP wants to know is: Is there money in it?

    Might I suggest a blog post on this very topic? More interesting than it sounds, it covers a whole wilderness of misconceptions. I'd be especially interested to see if anyone would take issue with you.

  10. Iain, your visits to my humble blog are welcome at any time :o)

    Have I not yet covered this? I've been blogging so many years now I'm forgetting what I've written.

    You say, "All that BP wants to know is: Is there money in it? How true. These days I feel free to slag off BP as much as I like, confident in the knowledge that should I ever write a truly mammoth bestseller and fancy a trad pub partner, all will be forgiven by those cynical and avaricious bastards.