Here’s the ‘thing’ that’s been buzzing about my mind.
I am not sure how many of you will have had similar thoughts, but in my normal rambling style I shall scribble on, hoping all this will make some sense by the end of the post!
As we all know, the indie publishing game is a bit of an uphill struggle. We have to compete with the ‘big boys’, the traditional publishers, who themselves are battling to keep up with the changing markets to retain their ‘share’.
We then have Amazon, love it or hate it, you cannot ignore the grip it currently has on the retail marketplace. Not one other online publishing organization has the same muscle or clout as it does. Combine this with the control it exerts over independent authors by way of royalties, market distribution and promotions, it is no wonder most authors struggle to make a decent income via Amazon.
Yes, there is Lulu, Kobo, Smashwords and a plethora of smaller organizations but, as yet, not one has found a formula or format which can challenge either the mainstream publishers and/or the Amazon group of companies. Until then, your books will still ‘have’? to been seen on Amazon web pages to reach a worldwide customer base.
The next challenge we, as indie authors, are faced with is the real downside in, my humblest, opinion. Bad books. By bad books I do not only mean badly written novels in relation to grammar, punctuation and spelling, I include dreadful formatting and ghastly covers too. It is these ‘bad’ books which give rise to unhealthy journalism regarding independent publishing.
One terrible book is like a dead carcass to hyena; the press pack will tear into the story will zealous abandonment and spread doubt about the validity of small and independent publishing to all our potential readers.
On average I suggest, without reference to statistics, it takes about a year to write a full-length novel; say a book of around 80/100K words. That is a lot of investment in one’s time alone, not counting the monetary input for editors, proofreading, formatting, cover design and what-not. Therefore, is it not in our own interest, if not duty, to ensure that we produce the best quality work that we are able to achieve; one that, as a minimum, reaches the quality of the vastly more experienced mainstream publishing houses?
After all, it is they who spend great sums of money on marketing and product research, in their battle to build and keep their own percentage and position in the marketplace. Should we not consider their standards to be the minimum value we seek to achieve with our own works?
Personally, I believe they should.
Another moot point to consider, one which I find both amusing and annoying, is that you, yes you are my competition and a fellow author. In that context I find myself claiming as ‘sort-of’ ownership towards you.
You see, I would rather have a reader choose to buy my book rather than yours. Yet I cannot help myself for wanting you to do well too. Okay, in a perfect world the reader would buy both! but we do not live in a perfect world. In that respect one must, to some degree, consider all other authors to be a competitor. In doing so it gives us the incentive to write better, present our books better, make them look better, which is all good, honestly!
None of the above means we have to be enemies, on the contrary. Those of you who know me know that I do a great deal to help and assist indie authors in every way possible. That is because I believe that the entire indie publishing world benefits, beyond measurement, when we all pull together when we work as a team against all the outside pressures and conflicts of interest that challenge us.
So yes, I want to win. I would rather sell my book than yours; but we are on the same team and, at the end of the day, what I really want is for ‘our team’ to come out on top. If that means I miss out on the Gold, Silver & Bronze so be it; as long as I have been a valuable member of the winning team and get to hold the trophy high, I will be happy.