Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Indie Tuesday—Are You Ready to Self-Publish?

by Jessica Keller @AuthorKeller

Frantic heart palpitations. Occasional bouts of hyperventilation. Random sweating coupled with a coffee IV. Jolting awake in the middle of the night. Moments of confidence intermingled with countless instances of hiding under your desk. Are you ready to self-publish?

Sounds like fun, right? Well, that’s a normal day for an Indie author.

Don’t get me wrong, all publishing is difficult. I’m a hybrid author—meaning I have books and contracts with traditional publishers and then I also have books that I indie publish.

Indie publishing has often been referred to as the ‘easy way.’ But I’m here to tell you that self-publishing your book is a million times more gut-wrenching than trade publishing. It’s not for the faint of heart and because of that, it’s not a good route for everyone.

In the trade industry there’s a vetting system before a book is published. First you need to get an agent to believe that your writing is worth taking a risk on. Then both of you work to convince an editor at a publishing house to choose your manuscript as the one out of the thousands that they see every single year. Once they offer a contract, the story will go through multiple rounds of edits (for me it’s usually 2-3) with two different editors before it makes it to the printing press. 

Sure, the thoughts of “will anyone like my book?” and “what if no one buys it?” flitted through my mind when my debut was about to hit stores. But that was followed by a much stronger reassurance. An agent, a publishing board, and multiple editors all thought this was a good story and had all worked to improve it for more than a year before it hit store shelves. 

Indie authors have none of those encouragements. As an Indie, you decide when you believe your book is ready for readers. You choose how many edits it receives. And when you press “publish” there are no human assurances backing you up. When all goes live there is a chance that no one—absolutely no one—besides your mother will buy that book. Ever.

Why even take that risk?

Because I’m called to write and I’ll keep choosing to be faithful to that calling. It’s as simple as that. There are stories and characters that God has placed in my heart that don’t fit into the niche I write for in trade publishing, so I’ll put those books into the world through the vehicle of indie publishing.

Each time one of my indie books release I won’t have the comfortable security that I feel when one of my trade books comes out. But, last time I checked, not one person in the Bible with a God given calling had an easy time of it. Uphill battles, struggles, and set-backs are all road signs on the path to following your calling (no matter what that may be). 

If you’ve been through a rough patch on your journey lately, don’t lose heart. If writing is a talent God has given you and story is a passion He has placed in your heart—then pursue that dream with everything you have. 

Seek out the best information about both the trade industry and the self-publishing world, because you never know where your writing career will take you.

Where do you see your writing path taking you right now? Have you ever considered Indie Publishing? What fears do you have concerning the writing path you're on right now?

How do you know when you're ready to self-publish? #publishing #indie via @AuthorKeller (Click to Tweet)

Self Publishing: Why it should no longer be called the "easy way" to publish a book. #indie #publishing -via @authorkeller (Click to Tweet)

Jessica Keller holds degrees in both Communications and Biblical Studies. She is multi-published in both Young Adult Fiction and Romance and has 100+ magazine and newspaper articles to her name. Her latest release is a Young Adult Fantasy - Saving Yesterday. You can find her at www.JessicaKellerBooks.com, on Twitter @AuthorKeller, on Tumblr, or on her Facebook Author Page. She lives in the Chicagoland suburbs with her amazing husband, beautiful daughter, and two annoyingly outgoing cats that happen to be named after superheroes.


  1. Thanks for the great insight. I am often confused about the differences available in the publishing industry. You have given me much to think about.

    1. Barbara, I'm so excited to have Jess and Charity here to share what we need to know! Blessings, E

    2. I hear you Barbara - this is a very confusing industry and the hard part is the second I feel like I have it "figured out" it up and changes on me! That's why I really appreciate the openness and sharing that is a benchmark of the indie industry (and trade authors are starting to open up a bit more too now, but many have their hands tied by contracts that say they aren't allowed to share too much about the industry ins and outs).

      I want to give you an open invitation to tweet me or contact me or ask any questions whatsoever on Indie Tuesdays (even if its not indie related) and Charity and I will do the research and help take the confusion out of everything for you. Answers are out there!

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a great day.

  2. I'm just starting down the indie path as of two weeks ago. I have a couple editors who'd requested to see this book, but I've decided to hold onto it and do it myself. I'm excited but nervous, crazy busy but enjoying my vision coming to life!

    1. Welcome to the dark side my fellow Chicago-lover! We have cupcakes and data and encouragement to go around. I've seen you asking questions in the Facebook CIA group and it looks like you're doing a great job of researching and finding answers and making solid choices.

      I love your last sentence in this comment - the control of your vision is probably the BEST part of being Indie. Good luck and keep digging for information because that'll only make your end product better.

  3. Sally, it is an exciting time! Keep us updated on your progress! Blessings, E

  4. I'm definitely looking toward the indie track. That being said, I believe that all authors will shift into hybrid publishing eventually. It's impossible to avoid. I love the freedom to experiment that going indie gives me. In this market, we each have to find our sub-sub-sub genre niche. We really have a better chance of gaining a solid reader base that way. And you're right, going indie is the hard way, not the easy. I compare it to working in a restaurant vs. opening your own. Yeah, you'll go from 40 to 70 hours per week with about a 25% chance of success. It's a business. It's never easier to go it alone.

    1. I agree with you - I think within the next few years every author (save the few hold outs) will be hybrids. It just makes sense now to diversify your books.

  5. Jess, the part that spoke to me the most in this post is that if God has started the process, I need to trust that and go forward! Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. You're welcome! I hear you though, its hard to take that step forward. I really (really) struggled with wondering what people would think of me when I launched my indie books. I'd worked very hard to be taken seriously as a professional for many years and had to hand that over to God in the end. Some people will think I've made a poor choice and I just have to be okay with that (and I am!). Best of luck and let me know if you have questions. We're looking for topics people want us to cover here on Tuesdays.

  6. Thanks for the encouragement, Jess and Edie! I'm getting more and more excited. Just found my photographer who's going to get exactly the shot I need for the cover. Wouldn't you know I picked the one view of Chicago's Grant Park that no one ever takes. :/