Home » The Business of Writing » For Indie Writers: You have the control. Own it.

For Indie Writers: You have the control. Own it.

27 June 2015

From author Elizabeth Hunter:

Here’s the thing.

There are many reasons why people decide to publish their own books. Some people get frustrated with traditional publishing. Some prefer the creative control that self-publishing brings. Others see it as a better long-term business choice to control their intellectual property for the life of the copyright. Some people want to publish their Uncle Alvin’s memoirs and hand it to him at Christmas because it was good old Uncle Alvin’s life-long dream. It could be none of these reasons. It could be all of them or a combination of any.

Whatever the reason you decided to self-publish, there you are. You’ve done it.

Now please own it.

Amid all the handwringing about subscription services and how writers are getting paid (I don’t want to go over it, so if you don’t know what I’m talking about, just read David Gaughran’s post HERE) writers seem to be forgetting one very important fact. It’s really important. In fact, some might say IT’S THE ENTIRE FREAKING POINT.

You are the one who controls your books.

You’re it. You’re the boss of your work. You.

So please stop bitching and just take the reins.

. . . .


Seriously, do I need to have that conversation with you again about your friends and jumping off bridges that your mom had with you when you were six? You’re (hopefully) an adult. You should understand how to combat peer pressure by now.

Link to the rest at Elizabeth Hunter and thanks to David for the tip.

Here’s a link to Elizabeth Hunter’s books

The Business of Writing

36 Comments to “For Indie Writers: You have the control. Own it.”

  1. I think I have a new girl crush.

  2. Amen Sister, Amen.

  3. Wonderful post! She spoke the truth and everyone needs to read this.

  4. Yyyyessss!

    Now all you whiners stop whining. It’s too damn hot.

  5. She bowls, too.
    Color me impressed.

    Yes, it needed saying: nobody holds a gun to your head forcing you to put up with anything. As long as you don’t sign a life+70 contract you have the power if “no”.

    Use it wisely or not, it’s all up to you.

  6. Phyllis Humphrey

    Well said.

  7. The same goes for readers. If you don’t like the thought that Amazon (or Kobe, or whoever) know exactly how many pages you’ve read of which books, read paper books. Just don’t get them from your local library, because they track your borrows.

  8. But if writers stop bitching, what will TPV link to? And what will I be able to make snarky comments about?

  9. The problem with hiring an editor (not a copy editor, line editor, or a proofreader) but a BIG PICTURE editor who you hope would point out the flaws in your book and help you fix them, is that they have a vested interested in keeping you (and others) as clients.

    Okay, so think about this for a minute.

    You, as an indie author, have just hired a freelance editor to work on your book. If they slash it to bits (which it may very well need), would you be willing to swallow their edits and recommend them to someone else, or would you take umbrage and slam them on Twitter and Facebook?

    Editors at big pubs don’t face this possibility of public humiliation, which is why their comments are more honest. Scathing, often. And more useful to authors, especially those who need to learn.

    Just sayin’ …

    • It is a bit of a catch-22, but here’s the thing…I don’t want a development editor to tell me I’m good. I don’t need my ego stroked…I want somebody that pushes me to be the best I can be.

    • I’ve worked with two different developmental editors and they were quite honest. They told me when something wasn’t working and one of them was pretty brutal at times. I appreciated it. If I’m going to spend that much money on that type of edit and all I get is sugar coated feedback I won’t be using their services again. I don’t want or need outside validation. What I need and want is to grow as a writer.

  10. What David says. I’m greatly blessed with a editor-genius who wields a killer red pen and knows all my bad habits. I’d never trade her for some 25 year old English major turned BPH editor.

  11. Authors who follow her advice will win. Authors who don’t will lose. Nobody will care about the losers. Nobody will know who they are.

  12. A lot goes over her head in this post. It’s not really possible to understand the publishing business if you don’t know what is going on with business in general. A lot of sectors are becoming fragmented and disintermediated. It’s the platforms that have the power, not the suppliers. Her first clue ought to be that her only choice is which contract of adhesion to sign.

    • Nothing stops you from selling ebooks from your website.
      You can be your own platform.

      • How do you do that? 🙂

        • Like everything else in indiepub: taking charge and contracting service providers.

          It all comes down to how you choose to exercise your power.
          Every author, indie or tradpub, starts out with that power. Those going with tradpub channels sell it, those going indie retain it.

          Platform owners provide valuable services but those services are also available unbundled for those willing to set up their own online storefront.

          • There is no bundle of service providers available that replicates a platform. It’s barely possible to find one that adequately handles domestic tax jurisdictions. None handle customer support, return processing, etc.

            The recommendation for authors to compete with platforms by becoming a platform is absurd. Most authors are inadequately capitalized to compete with their local dry cleaners, much less Amazon or iTunes. A few handsold books, fine. A viable business, of course not.

          • I’m confused. I think I’ll just stick with selling at KDP and Smashwords. But thanks anyway!

    • Who has power over the production process, schedule, and strategy? Setting price within prevailing constraints? Promotions? Who decides the product that will be covered by the contract of adhesion?

      Disintermediation is found in various sectors. Some of the power of the intermediaries is eliminated, some flows upstream, and some flows downstream.

      • Obviously the platforms have power over most of those. Pricing: Amazon is giving people more trouble over permafree, and makes it very clear that they set prices, not the author. They merely indulge the author’s requests at their discretion. For KU, Amazon doesn’t even bother to tell authors what the terms are. They simply find out what Amazon has selected to pay them after the fact. To claim that all this represents authorial control over pricing is like saying a sixteen year old has the right to stay out until curfew. There is a vast gulf between power and permission.

        • Obviously independent authors on Amazon can get 70% royalty if they price between $2.99 and $9.99. They choose the price. They enter it in the KDP dashboard. It appears on the Amazon page for each book.

          Amazon is indeed using authors as a means to set prrice. The practical effect is authors have set price since KDP started. They change it at will. Amazon can take that power back, but there have now been zillions of instances of authors setting price.

          Authors do not set price in KU. They set price for selling, not borowing.

          This has nothing to do with kids’ curfews.

          Power can be observed in its exercise.

          • Again you confuse power and permission. Amazon is the retailer. Amazon has the power to set the price.

            As I said, much of this goes over authors’ heads. Thrust into a business role, they have decades of business experience to absorb overnight. Most can’t.

            • Zillions of authors exercise pricing power to meet their own objectives. Those with decades of business experience exploit opportunity when it presents itself. Opportunity offers power. Those with less experience don’t need decades to act in their own self-interest. It’s not that difficult.

              Those with the least experience know they must set their price before KDP will accept their book. They choose price. Amazon doesn’t do it.

              • Amazon really doesn’t care whether you think it has the power to set prices in its own store. Nor do I. It’s in the TOS if you’re curious.

                • Just to clarify. You set the price they figure your cut from (wholesale price?) but they can sell it for whatever they like? I’m not getting the wording right but I think you know what I’m asking.

                • Amazon doesn’t care? So what? Simply exercising price setting power demonstrates it, regardless of who cares.

                  You don’t care? OK. Exercising price setting power still demonstrates it.

                  The TOS? Exercising price setting power is all that matters.

                  We can all test this at home. Go to your KDP dashboard. Change price. Wait a while. See changed price on Amazon.

    • Her first clue ought to be that her only choice is which contract of adhesion to sign.

      As others have pointed out, this ain’t so.

      I could name a few folks who self-published—successfully—via their own websites 5+ years before KDP existed. I’m not talking the self-published folks who took off like wildfire and that folks usually trot out as successes, either.

      Books, videos, e-courses, blogs—all have had folks successful with them, completely outside the now-usual self-publishing distributors. Even when Clickbank was THE distributor for infoproducts (and it still is a major one), plenty of folks have been and are successes without using it.

      There have been options all along. But just like building a simple website is now far easier than it was a decade ago, with more how-to manuals and user-friendly widgets, so too is the bar lowered for many of the various methods, to make them easier to get started. That doesn’t mean the variety of methods no longer exists.

      All you can really do is consider what you have, what you want to do with it, and what distribution methods will suit both your needs and your desires.

      And most of them are nonexclusive, so you can even use several of them!

  13. As an ex-tax lawyer I totally agree with earlier comments, selling can be done on your own site. Visit a tax lawyer, pay for an hour’s advice, get the down low on receiving, banking, and remitting sales tax. Even mom and pop businesses do this. Why shouldn’t you?

    Use a service like PUBML to offer your website’s “look inside” feature.

    Put the download behind a pay wall. WordPress offers good ones free as plugins.


    Using PUBML, even consider renting the book using their excellent interface instead of selling. Rented IP is read using PUBML’s online reader. It’s a great tool, I have it on my own website (http://johnellsworthbooks.com/free-chapter/), and no, I have no financial interest in the company or sale of its product.


    You might even consider making your book freely available and ask readers to pay when they’re done reading if they find the book valuable. Though this sounds counter-intuitive, it’s the same model used by physical bookstores: go in, read, and pay if you like the book.

    It’s very doable.

    The difficulty is in generating web traffic, not the ins and outs of selling online–those are overcome with unbundled services as mentioned elsewhere.

    For generating web traffic, suggest looking into Mark Dawson’s great video guides to selling on Facebook.

    Just because you might not know anyone doing it successfully doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It can.

    In all fairness to those who resist this notion, perhaps I should try it myself and prove it out. Maybe when I finish my two WIPs I’ll do that very thing.

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