Friday, October 7, 2011

David Beem: Why 2011 Belongs to the Indie Author

Please welcome David Beem to The Ink Puddle as he talks about the excitement of being in the Indie business today! To see our review of his book, Abyss of Chaos, click here.

There’s never been a more exciting time to be an independent author than now.  With the advent of e-publishing, the playing fields have been leveled and readers, not industry elites, get to decide what “good” is.  John Locke, Amanda Hocking, Stephen Leather, these are just a few names blazing the cyber tubes, and are folks who inspire me.

Why do I think 2011 is the year of the Indie?  Well, we’ve been headed that way for some time.  In 2007, Amazon launched its Kindle e-reader and the market changed forever.  Of the idea of being published by one of the larger New York publishing houses, John Locke, author of the Donovan Creed novels, said to the Wall Street Journal, “I don’t want to be told when to publish, I don’t want to soften my character, and I don’t want to be told what stories to write.”
Why be an Indie; Enter the Abyss.
Taking a page from John Locke’s book, I’ve decided to invent my own genre.  I call it: “Cool-Action-Adventure-Supernatural-Thriller” genre, and Abyss of Chaos is overflowing with the awesome sauce of everything cool.  Jewish mysticism, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Satanic cults, cutting edge technology and theories based in fringe science – all seamlessly blended with contemporary Middle Eastern faith politics.  Abyss chronicles the adventures of 26 year-old prodigy cellist Max Sinclair and his aging archeologist godfather as they discover their roles in a doomsday prophecy connecting them to the fabled Ark of the Covenant.  Sound cool?  It’s “Cool-Action-Adventure-Supernatural-Thriller” cool!  And because I’m a 21st Century independent author, I get to write what I want.

The Big Six = Big Business.

The largest New York publishing houses, also known as the Big 6, have a vested interest in meddling with their legacy writers’ stories, and interfering with other matters of authorship, because the publishing house thinks it know its readership better than its authors.  They do this because it’s the publishing house’s money that is behind these behemoth publications.  But as an Indie author, writing at the fringes of my imagination, without the meddling of publishers, matters to me.  Writing in that space inside my mind’s eye, with room to spread out, teaches me who my audience is.  I’m betting that Abyss of Chaos strikes people as different.  I’m betting that Abyss of Chaos strikes people as pleasantly unusual.  I trust my readership to recognize its intrinsic quality for what it is.  And I’m doing this because I can.  Because I didn’t have to collect a thousand rejection letters before my book sees the light of day.  I believed in it, and that was enough to make it come true.  As it should be.
Big New York Publishing knows the truth of these sentiments, because it’s a business first.  One which employs people to weed out books that look like they won’t sell.  Maybe your book.  Maybe mine.  But the truth is in the financials.  And this is the picture as seen from the highest floors of corporate offices, looking down at the Indie uprising.

In fact, the real question is: How can the big 6 compete?
In March 2011, John Locke sold 369,000 downloads on Amazon alone, all 99-cent eBooks.  At 35-cents profit per title, he’s reporting his Amazon publishing revenue at $126,000 for the month of March, 2011 alone. (You can find his titles at Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Apple as well.)

Then there’s Stephen Leather, another successful 99-cent author. Mr. Leather posted his Amazon sales charts for December 2010 on his blog:  43,827 books sold at 99-cents, as compared to the sales of his 507 “premium” priced books. (The “premium” priced books referenced, today, are selling for £1.98 and £4.45 respectively.)  
And what about Amanda Hocking?  A twenty-something traditional pub “reject” who struck out on her own.  Her story is that she collected “hundreds” of rejection letters before deciding to sell her books for 99-cents online, and last February Hocking sold a whopping 227,515 total units (all nine of her works). Barnes and Noble reported 55,135 units, and CreateSpace another 2,948. Round her sales off at 280,000, factor in Amazon’s 35% royalties for books under a $2.99, and she’s doing pretty well for an author no one wanted to publish.
Of course, the latest news on Ms. Hocking is that she signed a pretty sweet deal.  The New York Times reported that bidding rose above $2 million before St. Martin’s Press (not among the Big 6) secured print and digital rights to a new YA paranormal series.  Why the change of heart?  Says Ms. Hocking, "I'm a writer. I want to be a writer. I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling emails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc. Right now, being me is a full time corporation."

Amen sister.  That’s one way to approach the bargaining table.  And that’s the route I’m going.  Who’s with me?

Great post David! Thank you so much for dropping by! So what do you guys think? This week we've had 2 posts on Indie writing/ authors and the business of it all. Has what we posted about made you think differently at all?


Shilpa said...

Definitely! I have been toying with the idea of indie/self-pub since sometime now. And the more I think about it, the more I feel i should test the waters in self-publishing. Great post!

David Beem said...

Thanks Shilpa. You should definitely self-publish--you get to craft every aspect from front to finish, on your schedule. Why not? ;)