Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

Common misconceptions about (indie) authors

on 13/04/2018

Pondered for a while whether I should publish this. So before you begin reading know this – it is not complaining. It is explaining.

Being an independent author has its advantages, as well as disadvantages, just like any other job, I suppose. To be honest, I am not sure if I would have wanted to know about some of the disadvantages before venturing into (self-) publishing. For instance, if I had known how much financing it requires to be able to properly package and promote your work, I would probably have nevet dared to go into it. That would have been a shame, because I would never have met tons of wonderful authors and book supporters, or proven to myself that my books can actually be real books, no matter how many people like them.

As a reader and an author, I have discovered how seriously misguided many people are about authors, especially self-published, independent authors. Let me just share a few I have encountered, and do share your views in the comments, whether you are a reader or writer yourself.

1. People think all authors have a team of people who work with them on fixing errors and making perfect covers. (They don’t, unless they employ them and pay them. Otherwise, it’s all diy. Which doesn’t mean an independent author is like a quack doctor or a shoddy repairman. A self-made entrepreneur cares a lot about how he or she displays their work.)

2. People think authors get every single cent of the money readers pay to buy the book from a bookstore, online or not. (They don’t. Percentages of royalties vary, but you’d probably be sadly disappointed, if not shocked, if you knew the numbers. Not disclosing them here, because of contracts we have with printers and distributors.)

3. People think authors only write. (We don’t. See point no.2. Most of us have day jobs which pay the bills, hopefully also fill our hearts, and help sustain our writing dreams.)

4. People think authors are vastly supported by their families who read their books, buy them by the dozens and walk around promoting our work. (They don’t. If we are lucky, they understand us and support us as best they can – giving us some free time to write, understanding our insomnia and remaining by our side:). If we are lucky, we are able to repay them this kindness.)

5. People think publishing is what it used to be and everyone has an agent and a team to promote their books, lining up interviews and TV appearances for us, as libraries and bookshops fight over who gets more copies of our books. (Hahaha, she grinned with bitterness. I talked to a renowned author a couple of years ago and he admitted that he was lucky to have broken anonimity and gained a good publisher over 20 years ago. He says if he had to fight for it today, he’d probably stick to a day job. My ‘support team’ consists of kindhearted authors and readers who repost my shameless book plugs on social media. I am grateful for any one of my supporters.)

6. People think vanity publishing is just a myth, invented as an excuse for independent authors. (It is not. Vanity publishers are just as much a part of this business as any marketing scheme out there. They prey on your dreams, take your money to publish your book and then leave you to do the promoting yourself. If you need a cover, formatting or editing, it costs extra. I once read a testimony from an author who said it was not true because his vanity publisher was very polite, and he’d actually made £1000 from his books in 5 years through them. When asked how much he’d invested with them, he said £5000 in the first year, and about a £1000 the subsequent years. I may be a creative non-maths kind of person, but I think the numbers speak for themselves.)

7. People think authors are tedious and obsessed when we ask for reviews and promote our books. (We are, and some of us are moderate about it, whereas some are tiring. But see points above to know why. Most of us trust in our stories. Most of us really make an effort to bring out the best we possibly can under the circumstances. The readers have a choice.)

8. People think authors should give their books away for free, especially when they launch, since they get boxes of their books from the publishers, including promo T-shirts, bookmarks, bags etc. (We don’t get anything free except ideas. We work for everything else. We do research for our books, buy our own author copies, we pay for our promo stuff, we pay for packaging and shipment. So if you do get a freebie from an independent author, know that it is not free. Nothing is. We may write fantasy, but we don’t live in it. But also know it means a lot to the authir who has sent it to you. PS: applying for most awards costs a fee too. No guarantee of winning and no money back.)

9. People think authors are only good if they are famous. (Fame and quality may go hand in hand, but not always. Just like everything else. Plus, quality is a matter of personal opinion anyway. You may like a famous book, someone else will hate it. It’s that simple.)

10. People think authors write to make money. (Well then people in pharmacy would be writers too. Bankers as well. Not to mention politicians. Authors write to write. It is not even a matter of choice for most of us.)

Although I am sure there are plenty more misconceptions such as these, I have decided to list the ones I have come into contact with. Questions such as: “You’re an author? Are you famous?” and “So how rich are you?” used to be shocking; now they are just funny and slightly annoying. Especially when they are asked before even inquiring about what I write and where one might read a sample of my book.

Lines such as “You should put your books in bookshops, libraries, schools and give them away.” … well, they make me sad. Why? Apart from all the points above, it takes time to write a book. It takes heart. It takes time to draw illustrations. It takes effort and resources to create a cover.

But most of all, it takes gutts to put your thoughts out there, open for all comments. It takes a dream. You don’t just give that away. Or give it all up.

Would you?

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7 responses to “Common misconceptions about (indie) authors

  1. Anita, what an excellent and much needed essay about the truths in Indie publishing. As well as in the other forms of publishing as well. I hope it is alright to share this work of yours because I know quite a few people who need to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry, but I only saw your comment today. Of course you may share. My fear was it would be considered as whining, even though it is truly not. Other forms of publishing, you say? Yes, I suppose in all creative areas there are touchy issues. Putting a patent on something non-material is quite a challenge.

      Like

  2. Some excellent points Anita. I would reblog however your site seems to hide it under other writing and wont’ let me click into it…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] via Common misconceptions about (indie) authors […]

    Like

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