Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Updates

Why I Will Independently Publish

In my “Kate’s Publishing Crash Course” series, I gave a general overview of the three main publishing options: traditional, vanity, and independent. In this article, I want to share with you all my personal reasoning behind choosing independent publishing as my writing career path.

It is no secret that I am planning to independently publish my novels and run my own author-entrepreneur business. However, I realized that, while I have shared my plans with you all, I have not shared why I have made this decision. Therefore, in this post, I want to explain how my views on writing and publishing changed entirely in less than a year.

Kate and DanielTo his endless satisfaction, I have to credit my husband, Daniel, with planting the seeds of independence in my brain. You see, as I described in a previous post, I have known that I am a writer since I was a child. I began writing simply for the love of it, and then when it came time to “grow up,” I decided to pursue writing in university and as a career afterward.

During my time in university, I was a standard “wannabe” writer. I say “wannabe,” because outside of my creative writing classes, I barely wrote for myself. Everything about university creative writing was a double-edged sword for me. On one hand, I loved having creative writing classes to help develop my craft skills, give me constructive criticism from other writers, and provide me with a creative mentor. On the other, they also turned writing into a chore. I felt limited by the prompts and subject matter allowed in the university setting. In all honesty, I received a fantastic education and nothing was actually wrong — it just didn’t seem to fit right with me for some reason. Long story short, I did a lot more talking, whining, and lamenting about writing than actual writing.

Likewise, my academic creative writing experience allowed me to attend national writing conferences. On one hand, these were great: they boosted my self-confidence, allowed me the thrill of sharing my work aloud, and helped me feel like part of a larger writing community. On the other hand, they forced me to face the fact that I am a small fish in large pond of writers desperate for publication and exposed me to a watered-down version of the writing industry’s competitiveness. While I adored surrounding myself with these creatives, I never felt 100% at home in their world.

As I neared graduation, I had my plan in place. I would take a year off to handle Daniel’s immigration to the United States and get married. Then, I would go back to university and get my Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. After this, I would be a creative writing professor and attempt to publish novels, creative nonfiction essays, and memoirs. For those of you who don’t know, while this plan sounds simple and straight-forward, it is not. Perhaps I’ll write more on that later. The point is: I was overwhelmed at the idea of immersing myself in a potentially hostile and definitely competitive MFA program and growing less and less enthused about the concept of teaching writing as opposed to writing myself.

Graduation 1 (2)As you can imagine, if I was this unexcited about the idea of competing with an MFA cohort and playing the academic game, I was even less excited about the process of traditional publishing. I knew my journey to publication would be long, arduous, and possibly never get me anywhere. Even if I wrote a great book, it could be passed over for any reason from it lies between genres (and is therefore “not” marketable) to someone else had a slightly better book or knew the right person. Then, even if I did get published, I would have to adjust my novel purely for the sake of marketability, accept whatever cover the company decided to slap on it, and maybe do something as drastic as re-title it or change the ending. BUT — traditional publishing was the only way, and if I did make it through all the gatekeepers, I would have the title of published author, which seemed worth the years of waiting, financial struggle, and heartache.

Then, in April 2014, Daniel introduced me to The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast. After listening to only one episode, I knew I had to reconsider independent publishing. You see, in the womb of academic creative writing, the words self-publishing were almost never spoken, and when they were, it was in relation to vain, talent-less authors who were too lazy, too arrogant, and too bad of writers to “earn” traditional publication. With this stigma beating around in the back of my mind, I kept listening to the podcast and went into further research.

I think it took all of two weeks for me to change my mind. That is how perfectly independent publishing aligns with my values.

Over the next few months, I listened to every single Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast episode as well as expanded my listening to include The Creative Penn Podcast, The Self-Publishing Podcast, and The Sell More Books Show. I watched YouTube videos, I began buying books, I read blogs and interviews. If you want to see more of my research, check out my resources page and my suggested independent publishing books.

If my mind weren’t made up before, after all of this research, it certainly was. The pros of traditional publishing were reinforced by my research, especially the prestige aspect, but my research also taught me new cons I had not thought about before. Previously, my hesitations about traditional publishing revolved around artistic control. However, when I learned that an advance is not a signing bonus, that the royalty rate is 10-20%, and that I would lose a whole basket-ful of rights, rights to the product that I slaved over, that represents my artistic center, I abandoned any notion of traditional publishing.

WriterFor me, independent publishing is the answer. It will allow me to retain all the rights to my creative products, control every aspect of production and distribution, and pursue entrepreneurship (another dream of mine). Yes, I will have to deal with the self-publishing stigma, at least until it changes. Yes, my decision has damaged my relationship with writers who want to traditionally publish. Yes, I will probably never see my book in a physical bookstore. And while those things suck, the fact that I get to protect the integrity of my creative products, be my own employer and source of livelihood, and live out my dreams on my own terms makes up for any negatives a million times over.

While my personal journey may romanticize it, I need to stress that independent publishing is not for everyone. Indie authors have to do it all: write, edit, hire contractors, make decisions, handle finances, produce, distribute, market. It takes a lot of time and even more work, and it is still a long road to full-time authorship.

However, indie authorship also comes with a few unique perks. The indie community is full of authors and creatives who want to help each other succeed. It is not plagued by the same competitiveness as traditional publishing; it is full of transparency and helpfulness. There are hundreds of indie authors paving the path for my generation by putting out quality work to break stigmas, maintaining an unparalleled professionalism, proving that indie authorship is more financially viable than traditional publishing, and generally being awe-inspiring superhumans.

I am chomping at the bit to join their ranks. I want to be the CEO of my own international creative business. I want to write and publish the novels that inspire me and bring joy to my readers. I want to establish an author brand that reflects the truest sense of my personality. I want to build close, personal connections with other writers and become one of the helpful, honest mentors that have helped me so much.

I want to be independent.

I’m going indie.


29 thoughts on “Why I Will Independently Publish”

  1. It seems I have a long way to go. I think since I have been working in Accounting I haven’t had time to work on creative writing classes. So I am working on my stories as is and untrained. But that being said, I have tons of visually appealing scenes of a sexy accounting teacher for future stories.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Honestly, I do not think creative writing training is necessary to be a successful author. I can name dozens of indie and traditional authors with little-to-no formal writing training. Now, does it help? 90% of the time, I would say yes. However, I don’t think it is an absolute must.

      Ironically, even with my creative writing (and sociology) degrees, I am also in accounting as an assistant. (There are basically no jobs in my region for English-related fields.) So, I totally feel you with finance taking away the creative time. My best advice is to just keep writing and try to find online or local writers or writing groups to help you grow and offer criticism.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s what matters. You can learn technical and craft skills, but no one can teach you passion, hardwork, and creativity. As long as you have those, all you have to do is practice and self-educate, and you’ll get there.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! I will most certainly take your well wishes and any luck the universe wants to through at me. It never hurts!

      Also, I tried to subscribe to your site via WordPress, but I can’t seem to find a link. Do you have a subscription option or an email list or something?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You cleared up a lot of confusion I had about indie publishing. I think nowadays, it is only people who have studied literature that are snobs about indie publishing and even blogging. I’ve never taken writing classes, though I have an M.A. in English and am doing my M.Phil, and I’ve learnt to separate that life from my aspirations of being a creative writer. It seems to be working for now, and I will definitely consider going indie when I have a book to back it up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am very happy to hear that I could help clear some things up for you! I agree – most of the stigma toward indie publishing is held by those in academia and traditional publishing. However, as this post says, I’ve decided to separate myself from that world, because I know they are wrong and I do not need that negativity in my life.

      If you do decide to give writing/publishing a go, please let me know if there is anything you need help with or if you ever need moral support. No matter which road we take, we all need a strong writing community around us!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. An excellent choice it is! I’ve traditionally published shorts and have had nothing but lovely experiences. I was originally planning to self-publish my non-fiction and traditionally publish my novels.

    I’ve always worked as a freelancer so indie is by far my preference, but the idea of marketing a fiction book terrified me. Honestly, it still does but after doing the research, I still decided to go indie for fiction as well. You sum up the reasons perfectly.

    The real deal breakers for me were the royalty rate and copyright. I’m in it for the long-haul. I want to continue to sell any given title for years to come, not just until a publishing house moves on to the next thing.

    I love the podcasts you mentioned except I’ve never heard the Sell More Books Show. I’ll definitely have to check that out since that topic is where my apprehensions lie.

    Have you also listened to Self-Publishing Round Table? They don’t have the production value of the other podcasts, but they’ve done some very informative interviews with successful indie authors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve listened to a few episodes, and I agree, they do have good information. The main reason I do not listen to them regularly is that I’m not a big fan of listening to that many voices all at once — totally stylistic.

      Thanks for sharing your own experiences with publishing. I always love hearing about “hybrid” authors and the pros and cons they find with each form of publishing. I really appreciate your insights!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Kate for, as ever, an interesting post. I really love your positivity and the way you turn – what I see as – a bit of a negative into a positive. I hope to learn from you for that. Good luck with everything. I hope we can keep in touch as I do believe we ‘indie’ publishers have to support each other and I have found that some, once they get further up the ladder so to speak, are less accommodating. All the best, Kate

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awh, thank you so much. That is one of the best compliments I have received. I would love to stay in touch.

      Also, I agree, I think it is ridiculous that indies who climb their way up the ladder don’t reach back down and help others. I understand that they do not have as much time as the rest of us, but completely ignoring others is part of that old-fashioned writer competitiveness that just needs to go.

      Good luck to you as well! Feel free to keep in touch here or add me on the social media of your choice!


  5. Reblogged this on Ben Y. Faroe and commented:
    Hi friends!

    One of these days I’ll probably get around to writing my own rationale for pursuing (primarily) independent publishing rather than traditional publishing contracts, but in the meantime I want to whet your appetite with this.

    Kate Colby is a talented writer and I’ve been growing to greatly appreciate not only her writing but also her professionalism and strategic thinking about fiction as a full-time career. In this post, she lays out the questions, research, and reasons that ultimately led her to indie publishing, and many of them parallel my own.


    Liked by 1 person

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