Last weekend, I had the pleasure of joining so many authors, editors, and publishers at the Florida Writer’s Association Annual Conference. Sounds like a mouthful doesn’t it? Yeah, it’s a lot to say, but the great thing is I learned so much from it. It was only my second year attending and yet I took away a lot of information.
That’s the thing about this industry. Whether you’re an author, editor, or publisher or you wear all three hats there is always more to learn. For example, one of things that I got to talk about one morning over breakfast with a couple of YA authors was about traditional vs indie publishing. Twenty years ago if you self-published, you weren’t viewed as a “real” author. Today, indie publishing is taking traditional publishing by storm.
In case you don’t know what these two types of publishing are, I’ll break it down. Authors like Stephen King or David Morrell (FWA celebrity guest) are traditionally published. What this means is they got an agent and that agent sold their book to a publication company. (That is a very simplistic explanation. There’s so much more that goes into it.) Authors like Colleen Hoover are indie or self-published. Basically she loaded her book up on a website, for example, kdp.amazon.com, and 24-72 hours later that book is available for sale. (Again, very simplistic explanation.)
Anyway, so we’re (the authors) talking about the control these two different types of publishing have over various genres. How genres like romance don’t really need traditional publishers any longer. Indie publishing has taken the genre by the horns. Also how traditional publishers are straying from taking on brand new authors. We also talked about the difference between indie publishing and self-publishing.
I know, you’re thinking it’s the same thing, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Until I heard her point. This YA author suggested they are in fact different. And here’s why.
Anybody can write a book, slap a cover on it, and load it to amazon or a multitude of other e-book sites (Nook, IBook, Kobo, etc.) for free. Yes, I said FREE.
Now I didn’t say it had to be good. The cover can suck, the writing can be atrocious, and that person can still publish it. They may not even do any marketing or branding or anything to get their name out there. This YA author called this self-publishing.
An indie or independently published author kind of does the same thing. Except there’s one difference. She told me they understand that writing is a business. It isn’t just that the cover and writing matter, but that they take into account any marketing and publicity.
It made so much sense to me. I got what she was saying.
Of course, it got me thinking about myself, having just released my first book. Was I self-published or indie published?
Well, I went to the conference to learn. I know that if I fail, it isn’t because of what someone else did or didn’t do, it’s because I didn’t work hard enough to make it work.
Then it got me thinking about the question my friends posed. At the conference, my friends called me superwoman because I not only had one book finished, but two, with a third in the works. Plus I’m finishing school and I have a daytime job. They asked me how I do it.
Honestly, I don’t think I knew the answer until I spoke to that YA author. Writing is a business. One that never stops evolving. So we must never stop learning.