Traditional publishing is fast becoming a dinosaur, being slow to adapt to the rapid technological changes which have arisen along side the rise of digital publishing within the industry. Independent authors and publishers have been flexible, creative and quick to adapt to digital technology which makes it possible for aspiring authors to test the waters without waiting around for years or even decades for traditional publishers to take notice and grace us with their attentions, while traditional publishers have been resistant to change, turning their noses up at self-published authors until their value as professional authors with the ability to produce books that sell by independent industry leaders like Hugh Howey, and been generally inflexible and unbending, continuing to follow publishing and marketing models which are no longer effective. The adaptions that they have made have been forced and have made the traditional publishing model even less appealing for authors.
- Better Royalties: Royalties on traditional publishing which the author receives are usually around 15% of sales, while independently published authors receive anywhere from 30-70%, depending upon which platforms they choose to publish on. And don’t forget that independently published authors who go wide rather than exclusive can always sell direct from their site and make even more.
- Negotiations: Traditional publishing contracts are awful and getting worse, according to Kristine Kathryn Rush, (https://kriswrites.com/2022/01/05/business-musings-contracts-traditional-publishing-the-year-in-review-4/). Deals may offer the author an advance, even this is not guaranteed anymore. And the ones that are offered are for lesser amounts than were previously offered in the past. Of course, traditional publishing deals have always been skewed in the publishers’ favor, and the book must earn back the advance before the author ever sees any additional royalties and an author whose book doesn’t sell well may never see any royalties past the initial advance. As Rusch points out, all things are negotiable and the publishing house no longer holds the reins. Smart independent authors manage their own Intellectual Property (IP), and they don’t EVER sign away all of their rights and leverage their writing to the author’s benefit.
- Decrease in Publisher Responsibilities: While in the past, traditional publishers were willing to invest in the marketing and advertising of books, it seems they have grown more reluctant to do so in today’s book market. Even if you do manage to land a traditional publishing deal today, you may still need to take on a large part, if not all, of the marketing tasks to sell your book. So while it is true that indie authors have to spend a large portion of their time on administrative and promotional tasks, publishing traditionally does not guarantee that this will not be necessary.
- Improved Product Availability: With the availability of ‘Print on Demand’ publishing, authors no longer need to make large expenditures on big print runs or make space to house vast numbers of book in their garage or basement, as was previously necessary with offset printing. Audiobooks are also becoming more affordable to produce with the rise of AI narration, which is now offered for free on Google Play Books. Lower prices and better availability of services for independent authors on a budget, make independent publishing an even better option than it has been in the past.
- Control: Independently publishing puts the author in control. Of course, with control comes responsibilities. I won’t deny that indie authors must wear many hats; author, publisher, self-editor, marketer, and maybe even cover designer, as well as “The Boss”. One lesson I’ve been learning recently, is that I can’t do it all, and I am having to wear “The Boss” hat more and delegate some of the other tasks to those better suited to do them, so that I can have time to put into my own writing. Marketing is a matter of trial and error a lot of time, and changing the cover or the blurb can make a big difference in how well a book sells. Independent authors are “The Boss” and when they see their book isn’t selling as well as they think it might, they have the ability to go in and change the cover or the blurb and see if they can’t turn things around, while if with traditional publishers, they may have their work cut out for them convincing their publisher to change something up to see if it sells better.
Kaye Lynne Booth lives, works and plays in the mountains of Colorado. With a dual emphasis M.F.A. in Creative Writing, writing is more than a passion. It’s a way of life. She’s a multi-genre author, who finds inspiration from the nature around her, and her love of the old west, and other odd and quirky things which might surprise you. In her spare time, she keeps up her author’s blog, Writing to be Read, where she posts reflections on her own writing, author interviews and book reviews, along with writing tips and inspirational posts from fellow writers. She is also the founder of WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services, providing editing, social media copywriting & book promotion, and online writing courses. When not engaged in writing activities, she is bird watching, or hiking, or just soaking up some of that Colorado sunshine.
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