Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why Choose Indie over Traditional? A Reader's Perspective

Recently (as in the last couple days), I've made a decision to only purchase books for my Kindle by indie authors--unless a traditionally published book gets really high recommendations or looks really really good. DTBs (dead tree books) I will still select based on whether they look good or not, regardless of who published them. But since books are more readily available for the Kindle and I prefer to read on my Kindle, my new DTBs will be few and far between (such as my recent purchase of The Golden One by Deborah Chester. I had to complete my collection of The Alien Chronicles.) There are several reasons for choosing indie writers over traditionally published books.

  1. First and foremost, when I purchase an ebook from an indie author, I know the money is going directly to them (well, I guess they could be using someone else to post for them, but I'll assume they've posted the book themselves, thus taking all the profit themselves). This is important for three reasons:
    • The traditionally published author has already gotten paid for my book in all likelihood. They'll have gotten an advance and it will take awhile and a massive amount of sales for them to get to the point where they are earning anything from the actual sales.
    • Indie authors make more from royalties than traditionally published authors. If I spend what little money I can spare on a book, I want to know that the person who wrote that book is getting the benefit from it. If I buy a $2.99 self-published book off Amazon, I'm happy to know that in all probability, the author has chosen the 70% option and will get about $2 from that. If that same book was traditionally published and sold for the same amount, there's a good chance that author would only make about 50 cents (that's being extremely generous with a 17% royalty. It's more likely that they would make about 35 cents).
  2. I was going to lump this in with the last point, but decided it was important enough to earn its own number: Many indie authors are like me--poor, struggling to make ends meet in their EDJ (evil day job), and writing because they love to write with the hope that doing what they love (the American dream, right?) will help ease that struggle a bit. They have a faint hope that maybe someday they'll get lucky and "make it" so that they can quit their EDJ and write full time, but they still love writing for the sake of writing. This is much the same reason I prefer college football over professional. The kids still have heart. They haven't let greed overtake their passion. Need an example? Take a look at the extremely talented George R. R. Martin. He spends more time promoting and blogging now than he does writing. His books are wonderful, but he makes his readers wait 6 years for the next book. Not cool. As an indie author, I'm not saddled with the "demand" of traditional publishing to only release one book in a series a year. I can write as much as I want and publish as much as I want. In fact, it's encouraged that I write more. Indie authors aren't going to let themselves be confined by the ridiculously extended publishing schedule of traditional publishing. (That last bit should probably be its own point, but I'll leave it for now.)
  3. Indie authors, for the most part, are still reachable. I can talk to them on Twitter, Facebook, their blogs, and they'll usually respond. Sure, there are a few who think they're better than everyone else, but most are just normal people. It's nice to know that behind that About the Author picture, there's a real person who still cares about their fans more than they care about the checks their fans write. 
  4. I have better luck finding things I enjoy reading in the indie realm. I lean more toward the quirky side and I like to read things that often do not make it through an editor's slush pile or are deemed "unsaleable". I'm a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy. Those are very niche categories in traditional publishing. But on the Kindle, there are more books that I could ever possibly read. Sure, some of them are crap and I wish I'd never read them. But more are actually really good, and I never would have read them had I relied on a publisher finding them acceptable. 
  5. And last but not least, it's nice spending less than $5 on a really good book. I'm poor and don't have a lot of extra spending cash. I like being able to buy a couple books a month rather than just one.
    • Not to mention, indie authors do a lot of giveaways, contests, etc, so it's easy to find good, free books. But if you read a free book, make it worth the author's time and give them a review!
So there are my reasons for choosing indie authors over traditionally published books. What do you think?


  1. I've purchased quite a few traditionally pubbed books on my nook, but many were before I read Kristine Rusch's post about the whole royalty situation with ebooks. Now I will if it is an author I really love, but I am more likely to buy those as dtb because they are needed to complete collections. I also like reading both ways.

    I have limited funds as well and would also prefer to support my fellow indies. I still get traditionally published books but I have been waiting for them to go on sale more, or just read nook's official weekly freebie if I feel the urge for fluff. I think 5 dollars is what I feel is a reasonable price for an ebook, unless it just came out or is aa lengthy nonfiction tome tnat required a lot of research.

    Many great points in your article Sam.

  2. I love this post so much, I'm tweeting it, and I am adding it to my Mashup for Friday coming. It is quite literally dabomb. Well said! This poor indie author, says, "Thank you."

  3. Thanks Jen and Thea! Being a new indie author myself has given me a perspective I didn't think about before as a reader. I'm quite happy with my new revelation about the publishing world.

  4. Very nice post. The indie movement's proven two things, one that we already knew, one that we didn't. We knew there were talented authors out there who, for whatever reason, couldn't make it into traditional publishing. What we didn't know is that there would be such a big market out there for their work.

    It wasn't possible to find that out until the ebook explosion, but it's pretty remarkable that readers will happily buy a book by an unknown author with no backing or vetting--as you prove here, for some people, that's actually something they prefer.

    It's always a rush to find a wonderful new author, but I've found it especially thrilling to find a couple other indie SF/F authors whose work I really like. Like you say, when I buy their books, I know I'm supporting an individual talent. That's a good feeling.

  5. I'm an indie so I feel that when I can I should support other indies. I can also usually find something that I like that's written by another indie. However, that doesn't quite mean that I won't buy GRR Martin's new novel. However, I'll buy it for my Kindle. No DTB for me. ;-)

  6. I was impressed with your article. And you're right about Indie authors being more accessible to the public. We're just everyday people who enjoy writing stories and then sharing them. And, thanks to self-publishing platforms, we can share them at a darn good price! :-)

    Thanks for the article.

    A. G. Desi
    Author of "The Line Between" and "The Next Cut"

  7. Ed & Allison, I agree wholeheartedly. I love discovering a new author, and it's even more exciting if I can/have been chatting with that person on a forum or Twitter. There are many "studies" that say a reader purchases a book based on the author first and foremost. These studies clearly have not been done for ebook readers. They're a whole new sort of creature and I think we're going to find that they're more interested in a good story than a famous name.

    JR, I still love Martin's work, but I'm mad at him for making me wait 6 years. I'll (try to) buy the book used and in paperback when the time comes. Or maybe a Kindle purchase a couple years from now would be smarter. A tome like that would be easier to read on Kindle. :)


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