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Earlier this week, I defined what I think an indie author is and in today's interview we further explore what indie books are. In the intro I discuss how my next novel Crypt of Bone (previously Prophecy) is going as well as some of the takeaways from the #FutureBook conference that authors will find interesting.
Amy Edelman is the author of 3 books and the founder of IndieReader.com, the essential guide to self-published books and the people who write them. She has also started the Indie Reader Discovery Awards.
In this interview, we discuss:
- How Amy got started with her own books. She had an agent but originally self-published The Fashion Industry Resource Book and then The Little Black Dress, a fashion history book, was published by Simon & Schuster. “It was the best of times and it was the worst of times” in terms of experiences with traditional publishing. Amy has also written a memoir/novel but her day-job has been PR & marketing.
- She started Indie Reader after reading about the state of self-publishing and the growth in the market. There are obviously good books to be found but traditional publishing houses weren't picking them up. Branding an entire category of books as ‘not worthy' seemed short-sighted especially based on the success of indie film and indie music, so indie books were just waiting to happen. Indie books needed to be branded in a way so that the book lover could see that incredible books are available but in a separate category. It's different but not inferior.
- The site is designed as more of a consumer guide to self-published books. The main goal is to be a Rolling Stone magazine for indie books. It's not just mainstream fiction but also art books, comics and lots of other types of books. Indie is a wide field full of people who are creating.
- Indie is really about control. You get to decide what you want as the cover and how you market it. People should feel empowered. Traditional publishing does offer new authors a lot but it isn't the fantasy of huge advances and book tours, fame and fortune. A lot of indie authors are working very hard and doing the PR & marketing themselves, taking the risks themselves.
- An indie book is when an author has published it themselves. The book can't have been published before as that means a lot of help has already been given. A traditionally published author with a new indie book is still indie.
- Has the stigma of self-publishing gone away yet? People couldn't tell you who publishes the books they read, they don't care but they would still decide it was bad if they knew it was self-published. Claiming the word ‘indie' is better as ‘self-publishing' as a term is forever tainted. Within the ‘indie' group there are also lots of differences – there are writers who understand you need editing, it helps if you have a great cover – there are certain things you need to do, not just write. The quality is unbelievable for those indies taking it seriously.
- Great indie books are the same as any other type of good book. Indie Reader is looking for books that aren't the same as traditionally published books but there are also a lot of books that could be found on any bookstore shelf. There is quality across the board. Good writing, strong characters, imaginative story is the same whatever. IndieReader is aiming to aid discovery of great books that others might not know about.
- Readers don't know anymore who is publishing the book. The consumer doesn't know or care what is indie. The NY Times list contains indie books but they seem not to notice.
- Media don't cover self-published books as there is no money in it. Traditional publishers advertise so it comes down to money. Mainstream media need the dollars. But the consumer wants a good book.
- On the Indie Reader discovery awards. The thing that makes the competition stand out are the judges who are the top people in the industry including agents, publishers, book reviewers. The important thing is discoverability and this gives authors a chance. Most indies are interested in a traditional deal, they want to be offered it even if they wouldn't accept it.
- On discoverability and marketing. It's so hard to get attention. Even if you get some really big media, it might not result in sales. It's important for everything to look professional and you need to have author contact information available. There's lots of things that aren't worth paying for, like a book trailer. It doesn't cost anything to build a large twitter or facebook following. You can't just be a writer anymore, even if you're traditionally published. You need to be a business person and a PR person as well as a writer these days.
- Not every writer can be as prolific as John Locke. It's a different kind of success than a literary novel that takes a lot of years with no backup novel coming up soon after. The multi-book model doesn't work for everyone. You need to define your own success. I talk about meeting the financial amount that I would have got (potentially) as an advance but I made it my way. As an indie, you end up with a book that is all your vision. There is no bad genre. It's about what book lovers will enjoy.
- Amy talks about how she has discovered the Kindle recently and how the next 6-12 months will take ebook reading mainstream as it reaches a market who may have been resistant before. Print books won't go away but ebooks will continue the march onwards.