Entering my third year as an indie, it is my responsibility to impart sage wisdom to the world. (Don’t blink, or you might miss it.) See the series introduction post for more on my saga. But for now, lesson #3 for 2012:
You are not competing with other indies. You are competing with the big six.
Here is another mantra for you as you work. Repeat it, live it, remember it. Launching an indie career in the current Wild West of publishing is a double-edged sword.
The pluses include speed and flexibility of product to market. The distance and intermediaries between reader and writer are greatly reduced. So, as an indie novelist I can not only squirt out a new baby every four months (from outline to Kindle), but I can also incorporate reader feedback and adapt on the fly (sometimes as quickly as 24 hours).
The downside to this sort of freedom is that every schmuck with a PC and an internet connection is right there with you. The ebook market is flooding with dreck, and nobody knows when it might stop or when the waters will recede.
In this sort of market, an independent will not succeed by trying to rule the pile of schlock. Other Indies are not your benchmark. Shoot for the big boys. The burley arm of publishing is barely afloat these days, also being subsumed by a storm surge of casual ebooks. But this is business, not personal. So paint that target squarely on the big six forehead and let your deadliest dart fly!
Finally, another key advantageous trend in reading today is that the vast majority of readers don’t even know if the book they are about to read is indie or traditional…unless you tell them. Don’t tell them. Many readers will still subconsciously ding an indie book over a traditionally published one, lowering their expectations or willingness.
This means the first annoying thing to jump out at them could cause them to delete the file from the reader and move on (even though they would have much more grace for a traditionally published novel). But if your book looks just like the traditionally published books the reader is accustomed to reading… they won’t care that the publisher lives in a trailer down by the river.
If you believe your book to be every bit as good as those produced traditionally, then follow through with it–all the way into the hands of the reader. Deliver a professional product that bests the best of the best.
***Standard Disclaimer: There are 3 brands of Indie:
- an artist expressing him/herself for the pure joy of it
- an artist or idealist who wishes to express an emotion or idea to the world
- an artist/entrepreneur who wishes to make a living as a writer
An indie can be one, two or all three of these. But knowing the composition is critical. I am all three of the above, but first and foremost I have to be #3, or I won’t be able to continue doing #2 and #1 full-time. Not all of the above applies to someone seeking #1 or #2. Man, this is sounding scatological, isn’t it?