The Indie Publishing Revolution

Written by Eric Vance Walton | October 23, 2014

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We’re in the midst of the largest revolution in the publishing industry since the invention of the printing press. Recent changes to the publishing industry have given immense power to a market segment that until now largely has been ignored, indie authors. For those who don’t know, the term Indie is short for “independence” or “independent”.  An Indie Author is merely a writer who publishes outside of the mainstream publishing industry through small presses or self published by the author using various online publishers.

Earnings reports on AuthorEarnings.com show that top indie authors are now selling as many books as traditionally published authors on Amazon, the largest e-Book sales platform in the world. Indie authors now comprise 25% of the eBook market as well. This is a very exciting and recent development.

Until seven years ago a handful of major publishing companies held a total monopoly on the success of authors. These corporations controlled who got published and who didn’t. I am sure the world missed out on some wonderful books because of it.  Why were we so dependent on them? Because this handful of powerful corporations controlled the only distribution channel we had to successfully sell our books in large numbers, brick and mortar bookstores.

Self publishing isn’t new, it’s been around for decades but it was never really a viable option for serious authors because there was no distribution channel in which to sell these books. Back then there were many unscrupulous vanity publishers disguised as self publishing companies that preyed on the excitement and naivete of beginning authors. These companies, a handful of which are still in business today, charged authors huge amounts of money up front to publish books that would never sell because the retail price was too high and bookstores wouldn’t carry them on their shelves. I fell into this trap more than once.

There was also a clear stigma associated with self published authors. The common belief was authors who self published produced substandard work and only chose this path because couldn’t find a “real” publisher willing to accept their work. This is no longer the case, each time an indie author’s book charts on a best seller list or gets mainstream media coverage public perception of the indie segment as a whole improves.

In 2008 two crucial things happened, almost simultaneously, that set into motion the indie publishing marketplace we see thriving today. The first of which was the widespread use of social media like Facebook and Twitter. With effective use of social media an independent author could reach enormous amounts of people and promote their books for little or no cost.

The second piece to the indie author puzzle was the launch of eBook marketplaces such as Amazon, Apple’s iBookstore and Barnes and Noble that would allow authors to sell their books worldwide. These two things allowed authors to self publish and market high quality books without relying on some huge corporation to give them permission to do so.

This is a publishing revolution but it doesn’t exactly equate to a gold rush for most authors. You have to be very careful about the studies you read because the way the statistics are spun can sometimes be deceiving.  According to a Forbes magazine article by Jeremy Greenfield, “How Much Do Self Published Authors Make?” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeremygreenfield/2013/12/09/how-much-money-do-self-published-authors-make/)  the median annual income for indie authors was $5,000 with a mere 1.8% of them making over $100,000 per year.

These statistics reveal that the majority of indie authors can’t afford to quit their day jobs, yet.  Not even these sobering stats can kill the buzz of excitement and possibilities that indie publishing offers authors. To be successful as an indie author you must have the patience and commitment to build a large fanbase and this takes time. You also have to work constantly to publish and promote a large volume of high quality titles in which the your readership can choose from. The goal is to eventually create a stream of residual income from the royalties of all of your books.  Sadly, so many indie authors become disappointed at the amount of work and length of time this takes and they merely quit too soon.

More traditionally published authors are moving to self publishing because it’s only way they can make a living at their craft. Despite what most people believe it’s just as much of a challenge for them to survive on the average of 10% in royalties that traditional publishers pay.

Any author with more than a few years of experience will tell you that the writing profession is not an easy one. Struggling has always been, and probably always will be, a part of the author experience no matter which publishing option you choose. That being said, why not choose the publishing option that provides you more control over your future?

Not every author in the world can achieve the same level of success as Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. With indie publishing authors have the incredible opportunity of having access to a direct pipeline that allows readers decide what content they like and what they don’t, without a publisher giving them permission to do so. Even if a single self published book doesn’t make you rich or allow you to write full time it’s a stepping stone in your career.  An indie author’s empire is often times built gradually, one book at a time. You must forge ahead and continue to believe in your abilities.

It’s taken me a long while to get established but Indie publishing has been a very rewarding path for me. The struggle has humbled me and has brought me closer to other authors and creative people in general.  Now instead of being embarrassed to tell people I’m an indie author I’m extremely proud to utter those words. Indie authors are now the cool kids instead of being the outcasts.

Incredible writing marketed exceptionally well, paired with unstoppable tenacity always has been and always will be the formula for an author’s success. Indie authors have been given the keys to the publishing kingdom and more control of their own fate. Because of this I say, Viva La – Indie Publishing – Revolucion!

Bio:

Eric Vance Walton invites you to follow his unfolding story by “liking” his Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/EricVanceWaltonAuthor for updates and promotions on his current and upcoming projects.

You can buy Eric’s new book One Word At A Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon in print or as an ebook.