Do You Have What It Takes to Be an Indie Publisher?

Are you considering becoming an indie author?
If you are a writer standing at the crossroad where the road to traditional publishing heads one direction and the road to indie-publishing (self-publishing) in another, you are not alone.

Access (the road) to traditional publishing is daunting. For decades, if not centuries, writers have had to kneel at the door of agents and publishers, pleading for admission to the club. “Please, kind sirs, would you look at my writing?” There are the stories of writers who literally tossed their manuscript ‘over the transom’, hoping theirs might be read and accepted.

The reading technology revolution over the past few years has dramatically changed the way books get into the hands (or e-books) of readers. Compared to the time traditional publishing ruled the process, the change happened in less than the blinking of an eye.

Bowker reported 25,102 new titles in 2002. By 2010 the number has grown to 47,392. That doesn’t include a non-traditional category which includes some print on demand titles. If we only consider the new title category alone over 4,000 new titles are being added each month. That’s 130 added per day. That means over 10 new titles were added in the past hour, and likely one added while you read this.

In the face of change, why would agents and traditional publishers take the time to read a submission from an unknown author? If they are finding it challenging to publish and market well-known authors, how could I expect a publisher to roll out a significant marketing budget for me? Ask yourself the same question.

Today’s publishing environment is a recipe for a “rejection cocktail” for yet-to-be-famous writers like me.

Rejection it the “R” word to writers. Agents and publishers tell about scores of queries they get every day. I have my share of rejection letters and emails. Each time one comes in I have to shake off the loser feeling and keep on going.

What is the alternative?

Actually, there is a good alternative – Indie Publishing. Once ridiculed, becoming a self or independent publisher is now a viable choice. The challenge is to do it right. If you do you will experience the joy of selling your first book. The joy increases with each new book you sell after that, each time you are reaching a new reader.

I say it again, the challenge is to do it right. There are thousands of examples of self-publishing-gone-wrong. We’ve all seen covers designed by an amateur, even if well-meaning. We’ve opened books that are littered with typos, misspelling and poor grammar. Some books manage all three miscues, what I call a trifecta of mistakes in a poorly self-published book.

Why not choose to become a professional indie (independent) publisher?
Writer’s Digest is a great source for authors choosing the indie publishing path. They offer the following indie publishing checklist:

– Pick a good title

– Have a marketing plan

– Have a realistic marketing schedule

– Have a good interior with professional editorial service

– Have a good cover design by someone who knows cover design

– Set a publication date

– Register a copyright

– Secure an ISBN

– Keep good records for accounting

That’s just the tip of the indie publishing iceberg. But following a checklist like that will lead to success. It will be time to hit the ground running, and running, and running. It isn’t easy, but it can be fun. The trick for making it fun is to be in control, to avoid twisting like a leaf in the wind when another surprise lands in your in-basket or email.

I have developed a plan that has six basic sections for a successful book launch and marking that includes close to 65 ingredients for managing a book-launch and consequent marketing details. These are all hard-learned lessons that I share with my clients.

When you’re ready to publish?
You’ve written you book, had it edited and have an excellent cover design. Now you are ready to go into print. There are excellent print-on-demand services for the indie publisher. You can check them on-line. Don’t’ just read their claims, it pays to read reviews of satisfied customers and the ones not satisfied. It pays to ask other writers. Join an association like the Association of Independent Authors (AIA). Their website is an excellent source of information and there are forums to ask questions.

My choice for printing my novels was Createspace, a division of Amazon. They offer packages of services and prices that offer help to the beginning indie publisher. As you become experienced in the process you can pick a-la-carte from the menu. They also provide excellent customer support.

Saving the best news for last
A larger share of the royalties can be your reward.

You may have figured out that the road to wealth as an emerging author is more like a leisurely drive in the country that a drive on a fast expressway. The way to sell a book is still one book at a time. The way to a successful marketing campaign is to have a plan for what you want to do after you sell to your family and friends.

Do some market research. Find out what the average number of books a new author can expect to sell. Don’t be discouraged, however and use that number as a goal to exceed.

If you make the choice to be an indie author you will have control of your book. You choose the title. You decide on the content. And you keep a larger piece of the royalty pie.

Why did you write the book in the first place?
I’ve met writers who have told me they write to be famous. I wish them well on that journey. Most of us write because there is a story in us that we want to tell, it’s that simple and it’s the reward. What follows in readership and fame is another reward altogether. After the sweaty part of the writing we just want readers to enjoy it. Would I like to become famous for my writing, absolutely? Until that happens my joy is make the author-reader connection, one reader at a time.

If you take on the challenge of becoming an indie-publisher you need to be prepared for the next step, becoming an indie marketer. But that’s the sequel to the story.

Good writing, my friends.

Chuck Waldron, Indie Publisher

As an independent author and publisher, I have learned some valuable lessons through trial and error. If you are considering self-publishing I hope you find the encouragement you need to take control of your publishing destiny. Welcome to the Indie Book Rebellion.

In addition to my own writing I am proud to be a partner at a new service for independent authors, a place where you can expect editorial, cover design, and support in developing your marketing strategy. Visit

You are invited to visit my website at or send an email to

Chuck Waldron,
Kitchener, Ontario

Author: Chuck Waldron
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