Claim Your Rightful Place On Reader's Bookshelves

Tamara
Cribley

My journey into the independent publishing industry was a bit of a fluke. I’d been a graphic designer for nearly a decade when an opportunity fell into my lap. So, I took it. The first manuscript I formatted was a very spicy erotic romance.

I’ve always been a reader. I used to get grounded for reading past my bedtime. I regularly fell asleep with a book in my hand and packed an extra travel bag so I could carry many books I would read on my trip. Avid readers will, no doubt, relate. I cannot imagine my world without books. The achievement I’m most proud of is instilling a love of reading in my niece and nephew. Books have consistently expanded my world, my values, and my mindset.
What escaped my notice so many years ago, was the absence of so many voices that have so much more to contribute. A series of gatekeepers run traditional publishing. Very few books make it through. You might go through agents, acquisition editors, marketing teams, and more. For the most part, a book should cover a popular topic or genre, be marketable, and avoid controversy.
Traditional publishing is an expensive endeavor, and publishers want an exponential return on their investment. The vast teams that make up traditional publishing all need to get their cut for the work they have contributed, and so, as the author, you might receive 10-15% of royalties. For some authors, traditional publishing is unequivocally the right path.
For authors who write on controversial topics, have written a story that’s not currently in vogue, or have a very niche audience, self-publishing can be the path that gives your voice a presence in this chaotic world. As an independent author, you make all the decisions. You decide your investment and resources. You are responsible for publishing, marketing, and maybe even orders and fulfillment. There are no gatekeepers.
And that is a double-edged sword. Unless you leverage editors, enlist beta readers, and build a committed team to provide candid and honest feedback, your book may not stand up to readers' expectations. That can have some real consequences, both financially, and to your writing reputation.
The self-publishing industry has made great strides in the last 10 years. Because of the ease, affordability, and lack of gatekeepers, the early market was flooded with books that often were first or second drafts, unedited, unformatted, and raw in nearly every way. That didn’t mean they were unworthy or didn’t have potential, but their unfinished state often left readers dissatisfied.
Self-publishing earned a poor reputation among writers and readers who expected professional-quality books. It’s a reputation which still exists in a few circles, and is challenging to overcome. Although things have improved immensely in the past few years, if you’re an independent author, you’ll no doubt still hear people talk about how they won’t read self-published books. There’s a stigma.
What I have found in these conversations is that most people are talking about the quality of those early-days books. The quality and professionalism modern independent authors put into their books elevate them to a different class, one the naysayers don’t recognize as self-published.
I often tout the freedom of independent publishing: to insist on your vision and write your passion, even if it’s not popular. Take risks. Be bold. Break rules. Challenge the industry. But at what cost?

Read the entire article in the November 2022 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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