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Why Traditionally Published Authors Are Going Indie

16 January 2013

By Sabrina Ricci for IndieReader

What’s even more interesting is that many traditionally published authors are also going indie, all for a variety of reasons—some because they were unhappy with their publishers’ marketing efforts, others because their publishers no longer wanted to publish their books. But after talking to six traditionally published authors who have since turned to self-publishing, it became clear they all had one common motive for making the switch: they wanted control.
“Traditional publishing was ridiculously easy to abandon,” one said.

Keep reading at Huffington Post

Hat tip: Sabrina Ricci


38 Comments to “Why Traditionally Published Authors Are Going Indie”

  1. I wonder what percentage of those authors will go back to traditional publishing when they learn how hard it is to wear all the hats of a selfpublished author.

    • Probably not a large percentage once they see their improved royalty payments. Cash flow’s a mighty big motivator.

      • Agreed – not to mention getting paid monthly, being able to see sales data on a regular basis, and having the ultimate say on cover, title, blurbs, etc. Not to mention the freedom to write the book you want, at the length the story needs to be, without cries of ‘it’s not a big enough concept!’ or ‘you’re over/under the required word count, you have to add/cut 10k words.’ 🙂

      • That’s assuming that they’re seeing any return. A lot of authors I know of are ready to jump ship when they don’t recoup their expenses in the first week. Some books strike it big, fast, but most don’t. A big royalty rate only matters if you’re selling books over the long haul. And many of these authors are used to advances.

    • Well…let’s face it. It’s not THAT hard, not compared with most other jobs on the planet. Just takes a little effort and commitment.

      • I wouldn’t say its strenuous like digging ditches, but my back sure does ache after a long day in the saddle. Some authors I know are terribly ill prepared to do the marketing themselves. They aren’t educated on the business aspects of writing. Being thrown into the Indy scene is hard for them. They’re having to learn aspects of the business they’ve never bothered with before. That’s my point.

    • Only those who have no stamina will do so. Yes, it takes hard work, but with hard work, and a modicum of talent, you can do so much better than you can in the traditional world.

  2. Will there be a traditional publishing to go back to?

    • I think that depends on how you define traditional publishing. Big 5? Or any publisher who provides an editor, cover art and distribution? There will always be publishers. Some of the smaller/younger ones are doing very well right now. They’re flexible. Innovative.

  3. I tried to post this comment on Huffington’s Post story but HP’s log in doesn’t recognize me so here it is:

    I’m another successful TradPubbed author gone indie. My books (DECADES, HUSBANDS AND LOVERS, LOVE AND MONEY, MODERN WOMEN and THE LAST ROMANTICS) were million-copy New York Times bestsellers, translated into 19 languages and published in 30 countries. My U.S. publishers include Random House, Simon & Schuster and St. Martin’s Press. Over the years, I reverted the rights because my publishers weren’t interested in them. I had no idea what I would do with those rights but felt strongly that I wanted to control them.

    Then two things happened: The first was that I couldn’t sell a new book (a romantic comedy-mystery featuring a Baby Boomer couple). Although editors “loved” it, they didn’t “see a market for it.” I was known for my women’s fiction and a romantic comedy was out of my genre. The second event was the advent of ebook publishing. The rights I had reverted suddenly had a place to go.

    I’ve indie published my backlist and am about to publish my Baby Boomer romantic comedy-mystery, THE CHANEL CAPER. In addition, I’ve written and published two thrillers, HOOKED and BRAINWASHED, both written with my husband, Michael. We’ve also indie published Michael’s two national print bestsellers, THE ATOMIC TIMES, a memoir about his experiences as a young soldier sent to “observe” the US H-Bomb tests in the Pacific Proving Ground, and ALWAYS ON SUNDAY: An Inside View of Ed Sullivan, the Beatles, Elvis, Sinatra & Ed’s Other Guests, his memoir of his years working on the Ed Sullivan show.

    Once authors experience the freedom to write in various genres, the ability to create their own covers, control their own brand and the infinite shelf life of their books, they will not return to the strictures of publishing-like-it-used-to-be.

    • Great comment, Ruth! Your story is important. I hope you try to post it again!

    • Ruth wrote: “Although editors “loved” it, they didn’t “see a market for it.””

      And this is, of course, right there in a one-line nutshell, a huge aspect of what’s so wrong with so much of the publishing industry. As per your previous comments, you were that rare and valuable thing, a proven seller–a writer with an audience, a writer presumably perfectly capable of maintaining and/or expanding audience… And yet (to put it bluntly) a wholly ordinary, replaceable pencil-pusher obstructed your career development through sheer bad judgment and absence of market sense or basic business imagination.

      And this happened–and continues happening–over and over and OVER in publishing.

      • Another way of saying, “We publishers don’t know what will sell except what’s already sold, which might not be hot in six months, in which case if we buy it and it tanks we’ll be out of a job.”

        Which is why they’re now hotly pursuing indie authors who have already built their own market. No risk for them. All the rewards (should the author give in and sign).

    • Lori Hart Beninger

      Ruth, it is encouraging to have a successful author say that self-publishing is no longer the purview of the untalented. I am struggling with the many hats (especially the Publicity hat) of the self-published, but my heart tells me it will be worth it in the end. Your words have helped. Thank you.

  4. That’s exactly it. You’re pigeonholed. When you get known for 1 thing, they only want you to do that, which is “fine” if that is what’s hot at the moment. When it stops being hot, you’re dead in the water. They’ll say something like “Let’s wait a year and see if things change.” Oh yeah, I’ll just stop eating for a year. They expect a paycheck every week but if we had a job we couldn’t write.

    It’s a very psychologically abusive relationship.

  5. So, first of all, Barb is included! Yay, Barb! I love that since I hang out here, I know author celebrities that get featured in articles like this! 😀

    Great article, pro-indie, but fair too. Great exploration of the ins and outs – Ricci did a very nice job!

  6. The part of the article that includes our own Barbara Morgenroth (the best part, in my oh-so-biased opinion!):

    “Barbara Morgenroth said she likes indie publishing because she no longer feels pigeonholed into a specific genre. She has written YA, romantic comedies, mysteries, cookbooks, and photography essays.

    “I wasn’t allowed to explore everything I wanted to do in traditional publishing,” she said. “Now no one cares.”

    Originally published under multiple publishing houses and imprints, including Atheneum, Berkley, Alpha Penguin, and Avalon, Morgenroth has been self-publishing since 2008-2009, and currently has 15 indie books out.

    “Traditional publishing was ridiculously easy to abandon,” she said.

  7. Kleisny said she was not happy she had to do a lot of her own marketing to promote the books published by traditional publishing houses.“Why do they get 80 percent of the income of my book if I have to do it all by myself anyhow?” she said.

    This, this, this.

  8. Wow, thank you for sharing the article here! It’s awesome to see there’s a discussion around it. Can’t think of anything to add at the moment, but I will say that I’m a big fan of indie authors!

  9. Glad to see I’m not the only trad published author who’s decided to go indie. I’ve just guest blogged about my reasons at notesfromtheslushpile.blogspot.co.uk but they boil down to control, shorter timescales and no non-competing works clauses.

  10. “I’m going to continue releasing new books, because I see the value of new books,” she said. “I think the biggest mistake a lot of starting out writers make is they write one book and spend a year trying to sell it, when they should have been writing more books.”
    …“What sells books is more books,” she said, “and that’s how you build a fan base.”

    When an author can only publish one book a year that leaves eleven months for their fan base to forget them.


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