Enjoy your independence, but make sure your decisions are well informed, cautions ALLi Author Advice Center editor Debbie Young.
As the self-publishing sector continues to evolve, it's heartening to see more indie authors self-publishing their books to ever higher standards. When indies have questions, they're more likely to consult more experienced self-publishing authors and respected advisors within the indie community than to ask what traditional publishers would do. And with good reason – in some respects, indies often break new ground, particularly in marketing practices, leaving traditional publishing houses to follow our lead.
But that doesn't mean we should disregard trade publishers. We may no longer consider them gatekeepers. Thankfully that word no longer haunts discussions of self-publishing as it did a few years ago. But that doesn't invalidate the historical publishing practices that they developed. Most publishing conventions were established for good reason, though some of those reasons may now be obsolete.
Daring to be Different
Here are three examples that I've come across of indie authors deciding to be different without necessarily thinking through the consequences of departing from convention:
- Wanting to make a book cover look like no other books in its genre (to stand out from the crowd)
making it harder for dedicated readers of that genre to recognise the book as something they'll enjoy
- Wanting to use a sans serif font for the body copy (because it's a font the author's fond of)
making the content harder to read and thus making the experience less enjoyable for the reader
- Leaving the author's name off the cover (for fear of spoiling the design)
making it harder for the reader to know who has written it, especially when viewing online
On the other hand, if they're happy with those consequences, that's fine – being different is the indie's prerogative.
When It's Best to Defy Convention
Although trade publishing conventions exist for a reason, some of those reasons may not be valid for the modern indie author. Here's a couple that spring to mind:
- Reluctance to publish books in different genres under the same author name
many indie authors opt to diversify, writing both fiction and non-fiction to boost their income streams
- Pricing ebooks at the same price, or close to the price of print books
indies generally opt for lower ebook prices, knowing that they may make more money by selling more copies at a lower price
- Publishing hardbacks before launching paperback editions
it's very hard for indies to recoup the required investment
How to Get Informed
So if you're itching to do something that a traditional publishing company would never do, make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. Then savour your independence and enjoy the journey, because one thing's for sure: there's never been a better time to be an author!
If you'd like advice about any aspect of self-publishing, you can consult ALLi at any time.
- Our blog archive, accessible for free, has over 1,300 posts – just input the relevant keywords in the search box, top right, for more information – and you can get a new post in your inbox almost every day by completing the form top right of this page
- ALLi's growing range of guidebooks addresses key issues in a methodical, easy-to-follow, compact format
- Paid-up members of ALLi also have access 24/7 to our live, private Facebook forum, whether indie authors all over the world ask questions and share answers about best practice in confidence among friends (you'll receive instructions on how to access it when you join ALLi)
- Members may also pose questions to our monthly live Q&A session with industry leaders Orna Ross and Joanna Penn, available afterwards as a free podcast
If you'd like to find out more about joining ALLi, click here. We'd love to have you as part of our generous and supportive community!
Should indie authors defy publishing conventions just because they can? asks @DebbieYoungBN Click To Tweet