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June 20, 2012

Indie Talk: A Writer's Dream ~ Creative Freedom Galore

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 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:

1. Storyline
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. 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.



Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Good morning, Alisha, and thanks for Part 2. Once again, you've provided great insight into the indie world.

Recently, I read an article on diversifying in publishing. Sort of like diversifying one's investments. Don't put everything with one publisher. Who knows what can happen nowadays? Indie publish works are just as important. The more out the better all around.

Liese said...

This is truly a paradigm shift in the industry. Those that survive will be those that recognize it and are able to ride the wave. We've already seen some drop by the wayside (Borders and Dorchester, for two). The next few years will be interesting.

Alisha said...

Good morning, Vicki and Liese. Things are changing constantly in the publishing world. It is so important to stay on our toes and diversify. Interesting times indeed!

Sylvia said...

I'm living the work reality right now. Sucking the life right out of me. But I'm not making enough consistently to quit the day job. Remember, I'm close to retirement and I don't want to end up old, penniless and teethless in a nursing home. Yes, I've had some success with Indie, but right now sales across the board with most Indies have tanked. Let's just hope it's the summer and everyone is busy outside. If I could have a consistent income with Indie books, I'd retire in a heartbeat. I've only been in six months...I'm hoping when I hit the one year mark, I can tell my wonderful day job...see ya.


Sylvia said...

Great article Alisha and I fit everyone of your descriptions.


Alisha said...

Hi, Sylvia! I have been there with the day job grind...ugh! I feel your pain. You'd think sales would be higher in the summer because you assume people are lying on the beach reading but not so. Sales always drop in the summertime because so many people are vacationing. This also happened last year. Sales will rise again in the fall and really rise at Christmastime. December was my biggest month. And also, spring sales for some reason are very nice..summer is slow and! Keep at it! The more books out there, the more money you will make!

Sylvia said...

I'm working until almost ten o'clock every night and weekends too. Plus my poor formatter and book designer. I think I probably drive her crazy. Plus I'm about to send off two books to be edited. My goal is have as much as possible out there for Christmas. If everything goes according to plan I hope December is my last month at the Day Job. Thanks for alleviating my fears Alisha!!

Unknown said...

Hi Alisha! This is really good stuff. Part I was great and this is equally so and giving much validation to those decisions I need to make. Thank you for the insights and what you are saying seems to echo around the industry.

I happened to be one of those trapped in a corporate environment but I also messed a bit with the system of ideas. I flat-out asked my "male" manager if I HAD to wear pantyhose and as it wasn't in the policies and procedures he couldn't enforce it. (not that he wanted to - he liked and respected me and my work ethic) so pantyhose wasn't as big an issue as the other tight restraints that came with a corporate job.

Thank you so much for the continued support in helping me make my future decision about self-pubbing. ((hugs))

Liz Lipperman said...

Another terrific insight into the daily lives of an indie author. I am fortunate to be both indie and traditionally published, but I gotta tell you. My newest publisher wants to change the title of the new series as well as the title of the new book. I'm still struggling with this one.

Bring on pajamas and no makeup---and definitely no deadlines.

Phyllis said...

I'm still working that "day' job that tends to be anytime of the day or night. Yes, politics is the worse!

Fortunately I wear pants every day and don't have to make anyone coffee unless I want to.

Still, I am restrained and drained of all creative energy. I need the no thinking job to get my mojo back.

Thanks Alicia for the dream of what's to come.

Cara Marsi said...

Alisha, I love your blogs. You described my work world perfectly. I did that for over 40 years. The last few years we were "allowed" to dress casually and we were no longer required to wear pantyhose. I love being an indie author. Yes, in the winter I sit at the computer wearing sweats, with my fluffy kitty at my feet. I've been trad pubbed too, and I keep saying I want to keep all my options open and do a combination of trad and indie, but I can't bring myself to submit to publishers. I enjoy being an indie too much. Not making the kind of money some indie authors are making though.

Alisha said...

Sylvia, you are so welcome! I hope you're quitting that day job come Christmastime!

Hi, Karen! Congrats for speaking up about the! Let me know if you have any more questions about indie pubbing. I'd be happy to answer any of them. Happy to see you here today!

Liz, I remember having some pretty tight deadlines and I hated that! your publisher is trying to change the title of the new series and the title of a new book..grrr! That really sucks when you love the title you've chosen and they come up with something that doesn't even fit!!! I hope you get to keep your titles!

Hi, Phyllis! Oh, don't you hate those office politics? That was what I probably hated the most was stupid drama at work with the politics. Working a day job can cause so much stress. Seriously, after my last two children were born, I wrote my ass off to prove to my husband that I could make money writing just so I wouldn't have to deal with that crap..oh and traffic, and pantyhose, making coffee for some guy who makes 100,000 dollas a list goes on and on. I hope you get your mojo back soon. I know you must be drained. Hang in there.

Cara! Thank you for your kind words! Isn't it great working in our PJs with our kitty cat at our feet? That's the life! Keep up the hard work. The money will come. Believe me, I know some indie authors who make so much money, it makes my head spin. I don't make that kind of money but I make a hell of a lot more than I did at my traditional publishers. Just remember that this is more like a marathon, keep up the pace and you will cross that finish line!