I know you want to be a writer. You probably already have that first novel written and waiting to be published. You spent a year getting it ready. You reviewed, revised, edited and polished the story a dozen times. You’re ready to send it out into the world and get some feedback; hopefully positive reviews. What are you waiting for? Ah—the acceptance letter by a literary agent.
Now that may be a problem. Literary agents are very selective on whom they want to represent. They only want the best, whether that is a talented newcomer, a known author, or a proven market seller of their preferred genre of stories. It’s very hard to meet all the requirements agents are looking for in an author or story. As I have said; they only want the best and the promise of a successful outcome. After all, this is a business and everyone wants to make a profit.
For those of you who made the case and found a literary agent to represent you, this article is probably not for you. I hope your story is successful and you sell enough paper copies to make the publisher proud. You are on your way and are now hard at work on your next novel.
The rest of you are still trying to figure out how to accomplish what every published author has already achieved. You have sent out dozens of query letters and sample pages to every literary agent you could find. In response, you have received an equal number of rejection letters, some of which included helpful suggestions on how to improve your story and achieve success. Many may have offered the only thing they could—HOPE.
I feel for you. Never give up; that’s my motto too. Only, there comes a time when you have to accept the inevitable and try a new approach to get your story published. That is what it takes to become an Author. No matter the reason why you could not convince a literary agent to accept your story, now is not the time to give up. If you have faith in what you wrote, then I urge you to publish your story on your own. Become an Indie writer! What have you got to lose?
Some Background Information:
Let me give you some background information on why I am suggesting you should consider become an Indie writer. I seriously started writing science fiction stories in year 2001. I figured it was then or never, so I started writing my first story called Alien Storm. I was working full-time then and could only write part-time. I finished the story eight months later in 2002 and began the long process of finding an agent. In the end I could not find one, but I did receive some good advice from one agent. He suggested I read other science fiction stories to fully understand the genre and to see what was currently selling. Over the years I read numerous stories and have written over 100 science fiction story book reviews now available to read on Goodreads.com. Just find a Four or Five Star book review and start reading if you are a fan of the genre.
After many rejection letters, I decided to publish my first story through a Publishing On Demand or POD publisher. I sold a few copies and started writing my second story called The Formula. I used the same POD house and tried to improve my writing and marketing efforts. I was still writing part-time and learning the business. Although the costs for using a POD publisher at the time were reasonable, under $300, I found the price assigned for a paper copy of the book was prohibitive in the market place. The royalties per book were also marginal. And digital copies were not selling well at the time. There had to be a better way.
How The Times Have Changed:
A few years ago, starting around 2010, digital publishing or ebooks became the newest way to sell and read books. E-readers in various shapes, sizes and prices are now available by several manufacturers that can read ebooks. Formats vary for each e-reader, but the most common formats are Kindle AZW and EPUB. Today, digital ebooks account for approximately 30% of all books sold on the marketplace, a multibillion dollar industry.
Three major players selling ebooks dominate the market today; Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. There are many others that can publish and distribute digital ebooks in any format and genre. Some even offer free ebooks, which serve more as a market selling tool to generate future sales and name recognition for the authors.
What I am proposing for the beginning author today who has a book worth reading and no literary agent is to publish a digital ebook copy as soon as you are ready. Do not be afraid to give it a try. You will finally become an Author and learn a few things in the process. To encourage you further, I give the following ten reasons and more details why you should consider doing this and becoming an Indie writer:
- You will have complete control of every step in the process.
- You can publish immediately.
- You set the suggested retail price.
- You pick the countries to sell in.
- You offer the promotions you want.
- You earn maximum royalties.
- You can make changes any time you need to.
- You can add images as needed.
- You need to assign an ISBN number.
- You should copyright your book.
You will have complete control of every step in the process.
The easiest and most effective ebook publisher on the market today is Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing through Amazon.com. They will accept a Microsoft Word document and convert it directly to the required Kindle ebook format. You add a decent book cover page, fill in the required book details and you are ready to publish. They also offer a KDP Select program that offers special pricing and free ebook promotions during the 90 day exclusive period, but you cannot offer your ebook through any other publishers during this time.
I also recommend Barnes & Noble for Nook ebooks, which use the EPUB format. They also are very easy to use and easy to set up your ebook for publishing.
You can use other ebook publishers as well. There are many and each has a different method of uploading your stories and rules for publishing. I recommend BookDaily.com since it does not require uploading your ebook and uses other publishers like Amazon.com to sell your ebook. It also offers numerous Author Resources to promote your work. This makes it easier to change pricing for your ebooks during promotion campaigns.
You can publish immediately.
There is no waiting for your ebook to be published. It happens overnight and the ebook is ready for sale. Working through a literary agent and book publisher or POD could take months or longer before your story is told. You have probably waited long enough as it is.
You set the suggested retail price.
I cannot tell you how important it is to be able to set your suggested retail or selling price and change it as often as needed. You can offer your ebook for whatever you think it is worth. Market sales will determine if you chose wisely. You can even offer your ebook for free to create your own market. I do encourage you not to set your price too low at first. Don’t give your hard work away for nothing. Just make sure your “product” is as good as it can be so as not to disappoint your audience.
You pick the countries to sell in.
Each publishing house will allow you to choose which countries to sell your ebook. The final selling price can be determined automatically by setting your U.S. suggested retail price, or you can set the price independently by country.
You offer the promotions you want.
With Amazon Kindle Direct Program, you can determine how to promote your work. I have tried many different promotions to help sell my ebooks. The best methods so far are to use your social networks and try using services such as Google AdWords or Press Releases.
I have found using Press Releases work the best to promote my ebooks. It is not hard to write a Press Release and each service makes it easy to prepare the release. I recommend finding a PR company using the Press Release Tools found at BookDaily.com. One of the best PR sites I have used recently offering reasonable prices is PR Underground. You want to find a PR service that gets your PR quickly on Google and other search engines.
You earn maximum royalties.
Unlike POD publishers, you earn maximum royalties using ebook publishing houses. You can receive up to 70% royalties off selling price from Amazon.com and 65% from Barnes & Noble. This even makes it profitable to give away some of your work as Gift Copies for promotion purposes since it may be better, cheaper or more effective than using other methods to promote your work.
You can make changes any time you need to.
This may be one of the most important benefits of using digital ebook publishing houses. You can update or revise your work at any time, free of cost, as many times as needed. Unless you have a good eye for catching spelling and formatting errors, you will find mistakes in most works after you have uploaded the story. Even if you use an editor or have Beta readers, mistakes are inevitable. You may decide to revise your story months or years later to make it work better with your sequel. It is a very useful feature of digital publishing.
You can add images as needed.
One of the most important images you will need for your ebook is the cover page. I have tried making my own cover pages, but the results were not professional enough. The best promotional tool you have is the cover page for your ebook. There are many digital ebook cover designers and the price is usually around a 100 dollars. The one I use is called Ebooks Cover Designers and I recommend you find someone like them to design your cover page.
You need to assign an ISBN number.
ISBN numbers are recommended to identify and track your book. Most publishers and distribution houses need this number to distribute and sell your book. Costs are reasonable, as low as $29 dollars for ebooks and $55 for paper books that also need a Barcode. I recommend using Publisher Services for ISBN numbers. You will need a separate ISBN for each ebook format. Many ebook publishers do not require an ISBN number and POD houses will provide one for you in their pricing.
You should copyright your book.
U.S. Copyrights are important to protect your work for legal reasons if you ever need to go to court. Normally, you are copyright protected as soon as you write your book, but I always recommend getting your book copyrighted as soon as you publish, if not before. It is easy to do and only costs $35 for a Single copyright application. You can register a copyright online at the U.S. Copyright Office.
I hope I made the case for becoming an Indie writer. If you cannot find a literary agent for your story, don’t wait until you feel no one cares about your work. Be proactive and find out what the market wants from you. There will be criticism of your work. Accept it and move on. Start the next story and the one after that. If you like to write, then write and learn from your mistakes. Becoming an Indie writer may be the best move you make. If your story is really good, the market will find it and tell you. And where the market goes, so will the literary agents and book publishers. Believe me, they will find YOU and success will follow.
Good luck, Indie writers. Let me know how it turns out.
The author lives in the Chicagoland area with his family. He attended Michigan State University and earned his MBA at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management in Illinois. He recently retired as a product marketing professional in the high tech industry and is pursuing a writing career. He has written five full-length science fiction stories and two short stories. He has always enjoyed science fiction and plans to continue writing imaginative novels that explore the future boundaries of real science. He is an Indie writer.
Author’s website: Don Viecelli .
Article Date: April 2015.