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"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)

2.07.2011

11 Reasons

Welcome Guest Blogger, Cathryn Grant!  Cathryn is an indie author who has just released her debut novel, The Demise of the Soccer Moms.  She's here to share with us her journey in deciding to become an indie author.  She is also hosting a fabulous contest on her blog, Suburban Noir where you can enter to win a brand new Kindle, or even more exciting, a Free Copy of her book.

11 Reasons Why I Became an Indie Author

I’ve wanted to be a fiction writer since I was ten years old and wrote, The Mystery Of The Missing Mansion. Yeah, it took me a long time to get here. I started writing seriously about twelve years ago. By “seriously” I mean I got up before work every day and wrote for an hour. I dedicated a few hours every Saturday and Sunday – as much as was humanly possible.

When I thought I had a novel ready for prime time, I started researching agents and working on a query letter. In the winter of 2010 as I read more and more about the industry, I realized everything had changed.

Here are the touch points in my life that led to the decision.

1. 2008: It was generally understood that a debut author would have little to no say in the title or cover of her novel. I accepted this fact, but I loved my long title and every time I had a positive reaction to it, I felt annoyed at the influence of the publishing sales department.

2. 2009: I began to realize, through reading agent blogs, that a writer was responsible for nearly all the marketing of her novel – I started blogging.

3. 2009: I learned that most books are only in bookstores for 2-3 months, that some books don’t make it to all bookstores – it depends on the sales rep and the store buyer.

4. 2009: I learned that most novels don’t earn out their advance.

5. Feb 2010: A guy in Australia read one of my short stories on my website and contacted me about possibly using it to make an Indie film. Nothing has come of it yet, but I realized the global reach of the web in a very personal way.

6. Jan/Feb 2010: Amazon announced 70% royalty for Indie Authors. I knew that with the traditional route, authors could expect to earn 8-10% off the list price on a trade paperback, out of which she’d pay 15% to her agent.

7. Jan-March 2010: I’d spent six or seven years working to get short stories published because I’d heard this would help get agents’ attention. It did. As I queried agents in early 2010, I received feedback that my credentials and writing were good, but a “pass” on representation.

8. May 2010: I took a class in using Web 2.0 tools for fiction. The class focused on podcasting, but the instructors emphasized that the web allows writers to connect directly with their audience. This was a major “aha” moment for me and the tipping point. My goal had been to find an agent, to get a publishing contract. What about focusing on finding an audience of readers who liked my voice? I started thinking about self-publishing.

9. May/June 2010: A form rejection from an agent arrived in my mailbox on a little slip of green paper – “Due to the state of the publishing industry, we have to be very selective in what we represent.” Really? I said. The state of the industry?

I read everything I could find on publishing, advances, royalties, the marketing effort required of a writer (now I had to tweet too!) and saw that the publishing industry was going through a major shake-up. I realized that everything I thought I’d known as I worked on my writing with the goal of being a published author was no longer (maybe never had been) true. All bets were off. I re-discovered Joe Konrath’s bog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing. He’d done a complete about-face from his previous suggestions and was urging writers to self-publish.

10. June 2010: Zoe Winters, Karen McQuestion and others crossed my radar and I realized self-publishing was no longer a last resort, no longer about vanity presses, and was fast losing it’s “stigma”.

11. July 2010: As I told family, friends, and co-workers about my decision, I learned that the “stigma” seemed to exist primarily in the minds of writers and the publishing industry, not the readers I know.

In July I made my decision to self-publish “The Demise of the Soccer Moms” and started getting my novel ready for the marketplace. I experimented a bit with a collection of my Flash Fiction, just to see how Smashwords worked. It’s been a lot of work, learning to format (I’ve since learned I made this more complicated than necessary), figuring out how to get my work in front of readers, and adding all the logistical stuff to my writing schedule. My husband has done a ton of work – he did all the formatting and interior design for the print version that will be available in April. He’s also put in a lot of time talking me down off the roof!

It’s been exhausting, but the fun kind. I feel constant energy and the love knowing I’m in control of where my writing goes rather than sitting waiting for agents or publishers to show interest.

This is an exciting time to be a writer. Just a few years ago, directly reaching readers worldwide wasn’t possible. Everything has changed, but one thing remains the same – people are thirsty for stories.

Thanks for inviting me here, and thanks for asking me to blog about a topic I could talk about for hours.

Thank you, Cathryn, and best of luck with your fantastic new book!

24 comments:

Cathryn Grant said...

Hi Shelli,

Thanks again for hosting me here. I also want to make sure your readers know that they can have multiple chances to win by commenting on your blog as well as on other participatin blogs, and by tweeting. As you said, the details are on my blog. (The contest ends at midnight PST on Friday, February 11, 2011).

Shelli said...

Thank you, Cathryn, for adding some of the rules. I'm sorry I didn't get to post properly about the contest earlier. Funny how a move can mess up your best plans!

Marsha Ward said...

Good insights, Cathryn. Thanks for sharing them. I'll look you up on Smashwords.

Cathryn Grant said...

Shelli, A move definitely has a way of turning the rest of your life on its head!

Cathryn Grant said...

Hi Marsha, Thanks for checking out my free sample on Smashwords. And I'm glad you found something useful in my journey to indie.

Renee said...

This is really a good post and a lot of information. Thanks so much!

Natasha said...

I knew something about Cathryn's journey before today, but this post certainly filled in the blanks for me.

Exhausting but inspiring reading! Many thanks.

Dee said...

It's nice to read up on Cathryn's history and path towards becoming a fiction writer. It's very inspiring! :)

deeg131 at gmail dot com

Shelli said...

Thanks, Marsh and Renee -- and don't forget to stop by Cathryn's blog for more chances to win the Kindle!

Natasha and Dee -- Thanks for stopping by! Good luck!

Jane Steen said...

I am very tempted by indie publishing. For me the impetus behind being published is less the money (although it's always nice to get paid for what you do) than the chance to be read by others.

I'm at the start of my fiction writing career (my day job is writing communications/fundraising pieces for nonprofits) and if I find I'm not making much headway with traditional publishing, I might well turn to indie publishing.

Cathryn Grant said...

Renee, I'm glad you found it useful!

Dee, I've never been told I said anything inspirational, thank you :)

Jane, I started with traditional publishing because it was the only option when I started. It's nice that there are options for writers now!

Cathryn Grant said...

Hi everyone,

Thanks for stopping by, I'm caught up with adding your entries here to the contest.

Shelli said...

Jane -- Thanks for dropping by! It will be interesting to see where the publishing industry is by the time we are ready to publish. It is exciting, though, isn't it?

Carrie Dair said...

Amazing how quickly the world of publishing is growing! So great to have an insider look into this part of industry. Thank you so much!!!

Cathryn Grant said...

Hi Carrie, I'm glad you found it interesting.

Christi Craig said...

Shelli,

Thanks for hosting Cathryn here.

And, Cathryn, thanks for sharing this list. I know you put so much thought into becoming an indie author, and your list gives me - a writer on my way to publishing - lots of things to consider. Best of all, I love your perspective that these are exciting times to be a writer!

Shelli said...

Christi, Cathryn is wonderful, and I'm pleased to be able to host her here! Thank you for visiting my blog.

Beth Lowe said...

Shelli, thanks for having Cathryn as a guest blogger. Your blog is great.

Cathryn, hearing about your journey to self-publishing is very helpful. Thanks for being so transparent; as you know, not everyone is. I wish you soooo much success with The Demise of the Soccer Moms. Can't wait to read it!

Amber Argyle said...

Zoey's awesome, or so I've heard from Michelle Argyle, another indie author who's publishing with me under the Rhemalda imprint.

Good luck with it. It's sooo much work.

Cathryn Grant said...

Shelli, Thanks. *blush*

Beth: I'm glad you're excited to read it. What doesn't come through in this "list" is all the angst. It looks so neat an tidy and, to me, at this point, so obvious what the right path was for me.

Amber: Zoe's book about self-publishing was very helpful, and I was entertained by her "Zoe Who" videos, and motivated by her confidence in what she wanted for her fiction. I "virtually" know Michelle and read her indie novel, Cinders. Best of luck with your upcoming publication by Rhemalda -- how exciting!

Shelli said...

Beth and Amber, thank you for stopping by!

Konstantin said...

Hi Shelli,
I completely agree with:
"A writer was responsible for nearly all the marketing of her novel."
Of course, it helps to have friends who promote your blog/book as well. ;) Ill be sharing with this my friends on twitter. Cheers!

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

Wow, this is a very persuasive list.

Maybe I'll undergo a similar transformation before I'm finished with my book.

I imagine I've got enough things "in my own head" that make me want to go traditional-- no the least of which being my whole world (which has been pat-my-head polite about this writing "hobby") will only believe it's real if they see a paper book or I make a boot-load of money. And I honestly believe the first is more likely than the second.

Yeah, I'm way too susceptible to peer pressure, even now.

Cathryn Grant said...

Konstantin: Thanks for entering the contest, and thanks for sharing with your friends on twitter.

Amy Jane: We're all susceptible to peer pressure, in our own way ;) Thanks for entering the contest.