|“The data shows it: Independent authors are threatening the traditional model. It’s certainly an exciting time to be an independent author….”|
-Patrick Walsh, “The Writer.”
“If you read the statistics, the future of books can appear mediocre, especially for traditional publishers. Net book revenue is flat, changing little in the last few years ebook sales from traditional publishers showed a decline in 2016. Overall book sales from the “Big Five” publishers have declined by 12% over the last three year…It’s a time for the people who relish books that take risks, explore unconventional topics and break out of the traditional publishing shell.”
-K.L. Kranes, The Death of Traditional Publishing & Going Indie – Maybe It’s Not a Bad Thing
Authors everywhere are beginning to celebrate their own independence from the constraints of the traditional publishing model. This form of revolution, an author one, is certainly less dramatic than the American Revolution, with no blood being shed or acts of treason afoot. Authors are not gathering onboard a Carnival cruise ship and dumping New York Times bestselling books by big traditional publishers overboard.
The revolution we’re seeing instead, is the business disruption of yet another longtime traditional industry that no longer works for the people it’s meant to serve. In this case, the disruption is being led in part by authors who are sick of handing over creative control, royalty money, and stewardship of their author brands to over-sized publishing companies that offer very little in return.
Outside of these business reasons, there is another compelling reason I see for authors to declare their independence and refuse to ask for permission to distribute their stories and ideas to the world. It’s a reason that connects strongly to Independence Day itself – The First Amendment. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was arguably designed to protect unpopular speech more than popular speech. It was created to defend the existence of “politically incorrect” and anti-establishment ideas that exist outside of mainstream thinking.
Traditional publishing, by design, seeks the most mainstream ideas, palatable to the greatest number of readers. This is because its business model is based on book sales, not on the strength and potential impact and reach of author ideas. Traditional publishing is designed to reward the most popular, mainstream book ideas. Indie publishing, by contrast, exists outside the mainstream model of delivering books to readers (the reason publishing exists).
Reasons to go indie*:
1. Banned: Your book has been “banned” from public consumption (Mark Twain, Jack London, Joseph Heller, J.D. Salinger, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Walt Whitman, Tennessee Williams, Harper Lee, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Cesar Chavez). But it’s far too important to be kept secret.
2. Entrepreneur: You’re already an entrepreneur with a product, service, and/or brand and the idea of handing over creative and business control of something as important as your BOOK makes no sense to you whatsoever.
3. Disruptor: You’re a fan of disruption, a curious observer of change, and realizing that as an indie (self published) author you can throw your hat in the ring and be a part of it all, is very exciting to you!
4. Indie Mindset: You’re not the type to ask for permission to do much of anything, much less get your stories and ideas out to the people who need to read them (guilty!). Going indie doesn’t necessarily mean you’re closing the door to massive book sales, and worldwide popularity. Many authors (ex. Andy Weir, “The Martian”) have successfully made the leap from self/independently to traditionally published.
The point is, as an author of words and ideas, you should be relieved that there is a rapidly rising path to publishing that caters to non-mainstream authors and their ideas. Entrepreneurs and visionaries who want to call their own shots. Writers with powerful book ideas that are not necessarily attached to guaranteed (whatever that means) book sales.
The #IndieAuthors revolution is our own literary First Amendment, designed to protect and give voice to book ideas outside of the establishment. Even if you’re not interested in exercising your right to indie authorship now, like the First Amendment – be thankful it’s there.
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
*When creating your publishing plan. Let me know if you need help. I am NOT a publisher and have no paid affiliations with ANY indie or traditional publishers. I exist to advocate and be of service to authors in getting their books written, published, and promoted – by any means necessary.