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Selling Your Writing To The Public

Things to consider before you embrace indie publishing.

by
Sarah Hoyt

Bio

November 2, 2013 - 2:00 pm
Investigate any small or micro publishers very carefully.  You'll be entrusting them with your work.

Investigate any small or micro publishers very carefully. You’ll be entrusting them with your work.

So, if you’re going indie, make sure you have references, you know the publisher’s history and you have an intellectual property (IP) lawyer look over the contract.  Also, if any indie publisher asks you money up front, pays less than 50% of gross receipts, or will deduct unidentified “expenses” from your earnings, run.  Fast.  Also, make sure that contract has an expiration date because small presses crash more often than traditional ones.

Next – should you go in with some friends?  Sure.  Do you have a group of friends you want to go in with?  Do they write?  Do they just intend to write in the distant future?  What will your friends do for you?  How will proceeds be divided?  How do you make sure the work is divided equally?  Who draws the contracts?

And then finally – should you go solo?  Are you confident enough to go solo?  Are you sure you are publishable?  Are you getting the books edited?  Who is going to do your covers?

I can’t answer any of these for you or evaluate them.  What I can do is give you some guidelines.

Let’s say you write a few short stories a year – three or maybe four – and you really don’t want to put much effort into this, but just want to wet your toes in the ocean of indie publishing.

Small or micro press might be best for you, if you can find one that checks out all right and which agrees to publish you.  After you get your IP lawyer’s opinion on the contract, and it checks out clean, you can write these three or four stories a year (supposing they take them all) and have them do all the cover work, the dealing with outlets (and it can be a nightmare) – all of that.  And you’ll either sell or not, but at least you won’t have your scarce writing time eaten up by ancillary work to get your stuff out there.

Oh, you might have to do a few blogs for publicity, but by and large someone is driving.  (It doesn’t mean you’ll make a huge fortune, or even any money, btw, but more on that next time.)

More importantly, when your aunt Minnie asks who is publishing you, you can tell her the press name and she can’t say “so you had to publish yourself, uh?”

Things to beware of: payment up front, unspecified “expenses” charged against your writing, really bad copy editors, no time limit on the contract, cluelessness about payments.  (It’s really hard to compute what each author is due, and a few indie presses have crashed and burned on this, already.)

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