Dave Thome, author of the indie published Fast Lane made the decision to self-publish his romance novel last year, first with Amazon as an ebook for the Kindle then in paperback through CreateSpace. Many people still think of self-publishing in terms of the vanity presses of old. Sure, those pay-to-get-your-book-printed businesses are still around. But Amazon has changed the game for writers who can’t or won’t sign a contract with a traditional brick and mortar publishing company.
Today’s self-published authors called themselves (okay, ourselves – I’m an indie author, too) "independently published" authors—or indie authors in the vernacular. With the advent of the Kindle, the market opened for writers to, in many cased quite successfully, publish their work without an agent or publisher and without putting out any money upfront. Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Apple iBooks, and others quickly followed suit, creating even more venues for independently published digital books.
Then Amazon followed with CreateSpace, a publish-on-demand (POD) subsidiary that offered writers the same opportunity to publish their work in paperback, with no money up front, and a ready-made venue for sales: Amazon. There are other POD publishers, for example LuLu and AuthorHouse. But Amazon went a step further and worked deals to make their CreateSpace books easily available to any bookstore and library wishing to purchase through them. Of course, the writer has to do all the marketing, but then, often that is the case even with traditional publishing houses, particularly the smaller ones or if the writer is only considered “mid-list” in a bigger house.
So…the game has changed. And Dave Thome is right in the thick of it with Fast Lane. During our e-interview, he touched on the subject of being an “indie-author.”
MCW: Talk about the pros and cons of being an independently published writer.
DAVE: Even though I had scripts optioned, it was always necessary to hand off the ball and wait for other people to run with it. There was no choice. And querying book agents? Do those people ever respond to anyone? By self-publishing, I carry the ball all the way. I’m not necessarily getting rich right now, but I’m seeing results and can make adjustments in my marketing strategy and so on.
That said, marketing is a lot of work. It can take a long time to become known now that everyone seems to be self-publishing.
MCW: Would you go with a publishing house if the offer came? Why or why not?
DAVE: I know Karen McQuestion [author of The Long Way Home and A Scattered LIfe] and she’s a self-publishing juggernaut. She has a publisher for print books, but she keeps the rights for online publishing.
That’s a very good way to go, I think, because formatting a print book was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done—and I’ve recovered from five knee operations, including a replacement, and I think I’d rather have another knee replacement before I try to format a print book again.
But a publisher will take care of all of that and market the book, too. I can get Fast Lane into local book stores on consignment, but I can’t get it onto the shelves at Wal-Mart.
MCW: What, in your view, is the biggest challenge to being an indie writer?
DAVE: Getting known is No. 1. No. 2 is getting enough material up for sale to help with No. 1. The wisdom now is that the more you have for sale, the better you do, and if no one’s interested in screenplays, that means I’ll have to turn mine into novellas. And if series do better than stand-alones, I’ll have to actually write the other two Fast Lane books.
Some people are churning out a book every month or two. I can’t do that. I refuse to do that. There’s no way I can maintain what is for me an acceptable level of quality at that pace.
MCW: What kind of vibe are you getting regarding self-publishing when you attend events such as the Southeastern Wisconsin Festival of Books?
DAVE: I was the only male who'd written a romance on the panel at the Southeastern Wisconsin Festival of Books, but the panel was designed to address unusual romances. (The other panelists were a woman who'd written one from a male point of view and a woman who'd written a lesbian romance.) From what I understand, only about two percent of romances are written by men, and most of those are gay romances.
I didn't get much of a sense about the future of indie publishing at SEWI because it still focuses mostly on paper books and publishing the traditional way. But last year, the romance authors were cool toward anyone who'd self-published and urged authors not to self-publish, and I didn't experience that so much this year.
MCW: What piece of advice would you give to writers, those trying to decide whether to go indie and those already self-published?
DAVE: Self-publish. It’s the way of the future. Services are starting to appear that will help you with the detail work of publishing and marketing, taking over the former roles of agents and publishing houses.
Thank you, Dave! And good luck with all your publishing, indie or otherwise.
Check out more of my interview with Dave at:
And read more about Dave’s experiences writing the romantic novel, Fast Lane, and about his relationship with readers of romance novels on his Man Writing a Romance blog.