Tag Archive: Indie publishing

Traditional or Indie Publishing?

Traditional or Indie Publishing | ForAuthors.info

The debate over which is best – traditional or Indie publishing – has raged for years. In truth, there is no ‘best’ for everyone, it’s very individual.

My friend Nancy Hendrickson is what she terms a ‘hybrid’ author – one who is both traditionally and self-published. Her experience with traditional publishers actually led her to explore the possibilities of self-publishing. She explained that a traditional publisher will only promote your book for a period of 4-6 weeks (if you’re lucky). That means their salespeople will push it a little to bookstores during that period. After that, they don’t do ANYTHING ELSE. It’s down to the author nowadays to promote his/her book.

I listened in to The Creative Penn podcast this morning. It was an excellent interview with Chris Ducker, who is famous as the ‘outsourcing guy’. He explained that he had his book, Virtual Freedom, traditionally published but that he probably wouldn’t go that route again. He felt that every sale of the book so far has been due to his work, not the publisher’s.Quote from Chris Ducker's interview on The Creative Penn podcast

Interesting. Traditional publishers don’t seem to have the resources anymore to really promote mid-range books. They put their efforts into books they KNOW are going to do well – mainly those of celebrity authors.

For that reason, many traditional publishers are veering towards only taking on authors who already have a following – which is why we see so many celebrity books. They also like authors who are lesser known but who have big social media followings. So it’s a good idea to start building your author platform, just in case you decide to approach a publisher in the future.

But why would you? They have one huge advantage – their association with bookstores. There are bookstores now that will take self-published books (notably the Amazon bookstore in Seattle!) but they are in the tiny minority compared to the ones who are anti Indies. That’s because Amazon have damaged the business of a lot of small/independent bookstores. So anything associated with Amazon is treated like the enemy.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot  recently as I am considering approaching a traditional publisher with the book I will be writing when I finish my North American roadtrip this summer. Simply because a travel book is the sort of thing people pick up in airports just before jetting off on holiday. If I don’t get accepted, though, I’ll self-publish anyway because the royalties are higher.

Where with a traditional publisher you would generally get just 10% of the cover price, with self-publishing that could be as high as 70%.

I would recommend approaching traditional publishers if you:

  • Have written a book that appeals mainly in paperback format. Some books just don’t transfer well to digital format;
  • Have a large blog/podcast or other online following;
  • Are well-known in your industry – perhaps as a doctor, chiropractor, lawyer, etc;
  • Don’t particularly need the royalties from your book – perhaps you see it as a particularly-effective calling card, or you plan to sell it at speaking engagements.

But if you don’t get accepted, don’t despair. The royalties could be better if you go the self-published route and The Creative Penn has another solution. An episode with journalist-turned-author Debbie Young goes into detail about how to get self-published books into bookstores. Briefly, it means publishing your print book with Ingram Spark as bookstores don’t like dealing with CreateSpace (not just because they are owned by Amazon, but also because they don’t accept returns). That’s not a big deal. You can publish your POD book with CreateSpace and have it listed on Amazon, and also publish with Ingram Spark.

That said, one of my books (under my Mia Campbell name) did get into a library (Santa Clara City in California) last year. I don’t know how/why, but they definitely have at least one copy, as they tweeted a video of it. I think it is because they had a promotion running called ‘Book Face’ at the time and that particular book happens to have a face on it! So maybe it was a fluke.

Joanna Penn (of The Creative Penn) recommends that Indies publish digital books through Smashwords as they distribute to libraries. The only trouble with going with Smashwords is that you can’t do that with any books you have enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select. So it’s best to ‘go wide’ (in terms of distribution) with just one book in a series. Leave that out of Select and put it up with Smashwords to see how it goes. Smashwords will make it available via Kobo, Apple, Nook, etc., too, so you have the possibility of picking up readers who stick to those platforms.



Nancy Hendrickson – Books, Courses

The Creative Penn podcast

Chris Ducker’s website

Ingram Spark