This last weekend, our writers group was treated to a presentation by successful local author, Jami Davenport. Having been involved with the publishing world for many years, she had experience with the top publishing houses, independent publishers, and self-publishing. She discussed the pros and cons of each, plus included how some of the recent changes in the industry affect writers.
I also subscribe to David Farland's news letter on writing tips, where he has discussed the pitfalls and dangers involved with publishing, especially in the area of contracts. Apparently, the big houses feel threatened by the self-publishing market, and have changed their contracts to reflect that. Read any contract you are given very carefully. Once you sign on with some of these publishers, you are required to write what they want, and give up the rights to your work forever. I don't think I need to tell you that this is a bad thing.
It would appear then that self-publishing is the way to go, as many here have praised the results of doing it this way. However, according to David Farland, over three million e-books were created last year, and an equal number is expected this year. Unless you already have a following of thousands, your story will probably be lost in that ocean of e-books.
Studies have shown that readers will first be drawn to your cover, then read the back cover blurb, and purchase the book based on those two things. While you may have generated a sale, you had better have a well written, engaging story to tell, or they will never buy another book with your name on it. But that is a discussion for another time.
For someone such as myself, as in, "I'm so broke, I can't even pay attention", independent e-book publishers are a viable alternative. I can't afford to pay someone for a cover that grabs a reader's attention, and neither can I pay for a quality editor. I feel blessed to have found an indie publisher who believes in me, and I have developed a friendship with.
As with anything in today's world, there are good ones and bad ones, so it is up to you to do your homework prior to signing any contract. If possible, make an effort to meet and/or spend time with the publisher, maybe over a cup of coffee or lunch. Find out if the two of you are a good fit, and exactly what you expect from each other. Also take the time to check out the authors and their books that the publisher handles.
One of the major advantages I see in this relationship, other than the obvious ones of a professional cover and editing, is discoverability. While the publisher certainly can't afford to advertise each book separately, they can advertise the publishing house itself. Readers will visit the site with the assumption that the books have at least been edited, and that the publisher wouldn't promote them if they weren't a good read. By choosing a genre, the reader only has to view fifty to sixty titles rather than the thousands they would have to slog through on Amazon.
Indie publishers may not be a good fit for everyone, but I believe it is a good option that should be at least looked into.
Thanks for reading.