June 20, 2012
This is Week 2 of Indie Talk and I'm thrilled to be here! Today we're going to talk about living the dream! What is the dream, you ask? Admit it, writers are different. We are all on our own path and many of us have second jobs or have had other jobs in the past. Jobs we hate. Some of you have jobs you love but let's be honest here, you're among friends, how much do we REALLY love our jobs, you know, the jobs where you have to be at work at 8 am on the dot, wear business clothes with pantyhose, heels, make-up and curl your hair? Some of us still make the office coffee every morning or did in the past. I know I did. Some of us had to fetch the boss his or her lunch. Grrr. Some of us had only 30 mins. for lunch or we worked through lunch so we could take our kid to the dentist. You see where I'm going with this..the slave driver type of job many women are forced into after occupying a job for a while, she starts doing all kinds of domestic duties even for her boss, dealing with office politics, going to boring board meetings, being a "team member". **Hold on...I almost choked on my morning coffee.** Okay (cough, cough)..I'm back. I just brought back some crappy memories of jobs I've held in the past. This might not be a crappy memory to all of you out there but if you like squeezing into pantyhose, keeping an expensive professional wardrobe, working on a time clock and dealing with nutty office politics, good luck with your career!
However, as I said, writers are a different breed. We're a little more restless. We tend to dislike taking orders and hate having our creativity stomped on. Putting a writer in a little cubby or even a nice corner office is like catching a butterfly and tossing it into a jar with one twig to land on and a couple of air holes. We can survive, just as the butterfly can survive, but only for a while. We're itching to break free, to hear the glorious sound of that jar lid turning and open so we can spread our wings and soar out on our own.
Even if you write for a publisher, you have much more freedom than a worker who lives by the clock. They get excited about holiday pay and paid sick days. We get excited to write in our pajamas with The Today Show on while our toddlers play at our feet. We are alreadying living the dream. If you write for a publisher, your boss is probably in New York. You could be anywhere on this globe but I can bet you that your boss won't be breathing down your neck, at least not in person.
And if you're an indie author, you might run into your boss in the bathroom if you happen to look in the mirror! You're your own boss! You answer only to yourself! No deadlines! If you make a deadline for yourself and miss it, you can extend it without worry, without having to go to the dreaded board room and explain why you flaked out and need two more weeks. You missed it because you took your kid to swimming lessons for a week and didn't get enough writing time in. Big deal. You'll make the time up on Sunday evening when the kids go to bed. You can even drink on the job if you want! Feel like a glass of wine for inspiration? Go ahead! How about a brownie or a chocolate bar? Do it! What if you'd rather work out in the morning instead of the evening since it is summetime? You don't need to ask your boss if you can come in two hours later and work two hours later in the afternoon. Tell yourself when you do your make up for your hot date later cause you won't need to apply make up to go to work unless you just feel like DELL will notice.
So, we've established that writers are wired differently.
1. We like to work at our own pace.
2. We're highly creative creatures.
3. We like to be comfortable and surround our work space with things we love...like a fluffy kitty cat, a coffee pot gurgling in the kitchen, fuzzy house shoes, no evil bosses, no "too many girls in the office" drama, no office politics!
4. We LIKE to be in control.
If these four descriptions fit you, you are some kind of artist and possibly a writer. And if you're a writer who wants total control, you're an indie in the making or you're already an indie author.
Indie authors have total control ~ 100% control of:
2. Cover Art
3. Final Editing Decisions (A biggie in the indie world)
4. Pricing..earning 35% to 70% when compared to embarrassing royalties...anywhere from 4% to 30% at traditional publishers. We set our own price for every single book!
5. Release Date..we get to plan if we want to release that Christmas anthology right after Thanksgiving or right on Christmas Day!
6. Work hours. Whenever the hell we feel like it.
7. Work wardrobe. Go naked if you want! Who cares? Who'll know?
8. Work breaks/holidays! Did your best friend really just ask you to jet to the Caribbean with her? Go with, sister! Don't feel guilty! You can write on the plane or on the dang beach if you have to!
9. Marketing...it is up to you whether you take advantage of all the free marketing out there or pay for ads but indies know that the best marketing is writing that next book!
In the indie world, the old gatekeepers are dead. R.I.P. all you publishing houses and agents. I haven't mourned your death because with your death is the rebirth of THE TRUE GATEKEEPER: THE READER! Readers no longer have to choose from a select 12 authors at the bookstand. We all know if you go to Walgreens, WalMart or an Airport Book Store, there's a handful of the same authors. I could name them but I won't because I have nothing against these very talented people. However, there are thousands of talented writers just waiting to be discovered and now the readers are finding these great authors and their fantastic genre bending books! The ebook explosion has really busted the gates wide open and given the reader all the freedom in the world to choose who they read and what they read.
So, if you've dipped your toes in both traditional publishing and indie publishing, you've experience both worlds. I have. And if you've become an indie author, do you say goodbye forever to agents, editors, The Big 6? Never say goodbye. The publishing industry is currently in a crazy state of constant change. Think of it like a giant tornado that ripped through a quiet, sleeping town.
In the morning, some of the homes and businesses were totally destroyed, some had minimal damage and some were standing strong. Everyone had to pick up the pieces and rebuild again, find a new life.
That's what we as writers are doing now. Finding a new life, whether it is publishing some of our books at traditional houses and some as an indie author or whether we decided to reject the indie path and stay on the more comfortable old model and wait it out or whether we decide to take total control and indie pub all our work.
Listen, five years ago this new indie world didn't even exist. We were all writing and rewriting synospsis, queries and mailing out those submissions. Now some of us are control freaks, writing machines who have to either figure out all of it on our own or become like a traditional publisher and hire all the necessary people to get our books out...formatters, editors, cover artists, beta readers. Some of us trade servies with our writer friends, something I highly recommend to save money and help your fellow author. Help one another.
For me, I've received the rights back to six of my books and re-released them as an indie author because I love having total freedom and total creativity in all stages of every book. I love it! I thrive on it! And the best part of living the indie dream is making more money. There are still a lot of writers out there who don't believe indies make more money and if you're one of those writers, start watching the rankings of indie authors, take note of their book price and this is a biggie...we have the ability to release more books per year just because a traditional publisher takes forever, usually 2 to 3 years after a contract is signed. While we're building our backlist, adding 6 new books a year (more for some authors), you're waiting, waiting, waiting.
The indie life is truly a dream come true for writers! If you're considering it, join indie groups, talk to other indie writers, learn the ropes, trade services to get that first indie book out and take the plunge. I will never look back. I plan to lasso this crazy tornado called THE UPSIDE DOWN PUBLISHING WORLD and do a lot of wrangling in the meantime.