Monday, June 6, 2011

When You Don't Care - More Indie Thoughts

When I wrote about when not to go indie the other day, I mentioned a key phrase that I really didn't get a chance to explore. And I think it's really important to elaborate on it.

"I don't care if I'm successful."

I talked about why I think it's a bad idea to self-publish a book just because it's there and you have nothing else to do with it. You really want to be traditionally published but you have this one title that you've given up on. That's a case of "I don't care if this book is successful but I do care that my writing career is successful. In fact, I want to be really successful with it." That's when going indie can be tricky, if not done right.

But there are lots of us who just want to write, want to make our stories easily available to friends and family and if someone else picks it up, great. This is a whole different situation. This is, "I really don't care if I get a big publisher or make a bestseller's list. Writing is my hobby, something I love doing and I don't ever want it to become work."

And in that case, YES! Do it! Why not??? If you go in knowing that you'll get out of it whatever you put in and without expectations of making it "big," then self-publishing is a perfect solution for you. Just one little caveat...

Be sure that you really don't care, that you're really doing this for fun. Because if you change your mind later and decide that you really do want to have a successful writing career, you might have some major clean-up to do after yourself. After all, you'll have a book or several out there that never sold well. You'll have to decide what to do with them, which might mean pulling them to never see the light of day again.

Because here's the deal - publishers might want to publish something you've already done indie, especially if it's sold well. They'll likely have you do edits to improve it and then do a re-release. Most likely, however, they won't. They want exclusive first rights and since you've already published it, it's no longer first rights or exclusive. So the benefit your indie title(s) will give you is showing that you know how to market and can build a fan base, which will help with your next books. If you haven't done that, however, your indie titles can play against you. If you have poor sales and/or reviews, they're a black mark.

So, if you change your mind and have a book you really want to try to get published, you may want to pull your indies. OR...if they're good, you can market the heck out of them and focus on building that fan base before you start querying the new title. Then you have some good stuff to put in that letter. Which brings me to another little caveat...

Even if you're only doing this for fun, still put out the absolute, very best that you can possibly offer. If you don't want to invest in an editor, at least have several betas/critique partners help you. Then have someone else do a line-by-line edit and proofread. Don't put out crap. It's bad for all of us. And, if you do change your mind later, you have many more options available as far as what to do with your self-pubbed titles. You'll be in a better position to pump up your marketing and sell them. So it's in your best interest to put out only your very best, polished work.

(Of course, that last bit applies to all of us...)

Any other cases of "I don't care..."? Any questions? I'd be happy to discuss.

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