Why “Indie” – 2021 Edition

This is the next post in the Big Review of 2021 – I’m going back over the original posts on this site, and adjusting for the changes that have occurred in the four years since.

Today I’m re-examining ‘Why “Indie”’, which appeared here on December 15, 2017 (a small ice age ago, in indie publishing terms!)


From the original post:

The short answer is, because traditional authors are so hamstrung by their contracts that writing anything more than their permitted one book a year is a waste of time.

This is even more true, now.  Traditionally published authors can write under pen names, if they’re capable of writing more than their book a year (most are), but there isn’t any point in being super-prolific as a traditional author.  You never know if books two and onwards in a series you’ve invested time in writing will get picked up for publishing.  Very, very often, they aren’t.    Of course, you can indie-publish the rest of them, where having a solid backlist is a huge plus.

Then, too, you have to wait years for any title to be published at all, and that’s after you’ve sold the book.  It can take years more to find an agent, then find a publisher willing to publish the book.  What do you do in the meantime?  You could write more, but you’re going to have a backlog that you must also sell somehow, if you write more than a book a year.

Of course, the reality is more nuanced than that.

And it still is.  But succeeding even modestly in traditional publishing is, more and more, reducing down to the same odds as winning the lottery.  And being prolific won’t help you in the slightest.

I have been traditionally published and know that world a little.

On the other hand, I have been 100% indie published since March 2011, and I do know that world very well.

Still do, but more and more, my expertise is separating away from the KU model, and my awareness and understanding of the nuances of publishing wide are increasing.  As we covered in ‘Why “Productive”?’ last week, when you’re publishing wide, there is not as much pressure to produce, produce, produce.  But there’s still an advantage to finding out what your best marathon pace is, so you can publish at the best rate for you. 

If you’ve enrolled your books in the Kindle Select program, writing as prolifically as possible is an essential skill.   And while my understanding of the nuances of publishing through KU is aging, I do know about writing fast, writing lots, and writing well.

Indie fiction authors benefit from an accelerated publishing schedule (see “Why Productive?“).

And I’ll eventually review the linked post, too.

While traditionally published authors may like the increased creativity that comes with a faster pace of writing (more on that in the coming weeks), their productivity challenges are far different from the average indie author.

I touched on this, above.  As a traditionally published author, you have three choices:

  1. Gear down and produce the maximum number of books a year your publisher will let you publish.
  2. Write at the pace you want to write at, then use pen names and multiple publishers to sell everything…eventually.
  3. Write at your chosen pace, sell what you can to traditional publishing, then indie publish the rest (the hybrid model) – which means you’re still at an advantage if you maximize the books you publish.

As productivity for indie authors is already complex enough, I have deliberately narrowed down the scope of the topic to indies only.

Double ditto, these days. 

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