Why Some Traditionally Published Authors Should Consider Going Indie

Let’s face it: most new authors will never get a fair shake—no matter how brilliant their work—from the publishing establishment (i.e. literary agents, large publishing houses, and national bookstores). For less established authors, indie publishing, hybrid publishing, or whatever you want to call it, is the only way. And that’s not a bad thing. But what about traditionally published authors? Why are some established authors diving into the indie fray more than ever before? The reason is simple: it’s a good business decision. To better understand why, let’s examine a few publishing industry truths.
  1. Shrinking Deals – Advances just aren’t flowing like they used to. More accurately, only A-List authors are seeing the jaw-dropping advances that make headlines, leaving the B-List and C-List authors to compete for scraps. For these authors, even a small advance is no longer a gimme, leaving author compensation tied strictly to sell-through. But there must be non-financial considerations that keep non-A-List authors tethered to their agents and large publishing houses, right?
  2. Marketing – Whether you’re published by one of the Big Five New York houses, you self-publish using CreateSpace, or you work with a hybrid publisher like Mascot, an author must be engaged in a book’s promotion and marketing. In my fourteen years in publishing, I have never heard a traditionally published author say their publisher exceeded their marketing expectations. Not once. So if an author is neither getting good financial term nor critical marketing support through traditional publishing, there must be other reasons to stick with it, right?
  3. Access to Readers – The savviest authors know their target demographic. Through social media, authors are connecting with readers directly in ways that didn’t exist in the past. This is not only a part of good platform building, it’s also good business. If you’re a non-A-List author who has done a great job building your platform and connecting with your readers, but are underwhelmed by the financial terms of your deal and unhappy with the marketing support you’ve received, you’ve surely contemplated going the indie route for your next project, right? If not, there’s likely one very important consideration keeping you from making the indie leap.
  4. Distribution – Can you get meaningful distribution if you leave behind your large publishing house? If you don’t emphatically know the answer, then you’re probably not ready for indie publishing. Distribution is one thing you have to be sure about. If you have a solid distribution plan in place, like what we offer here at Mascot, or have a distribution partner who can help you, it makes sense to at least consider going the indie route for your next project.
To reiterate, every situation is different and we’re certainly not suggesting that switching to indie publishing is the right move across the board. However, having worked with several traditionally published authors turned indie recently, we know a few things about making a successful transition. In closing, I thought it would be noteworthy to highlight a couple of projects from traditionally published authors that we’re working on presently. The following authors have made the switch to the independent publishing route with Mascot’s help. In December 2015, Mascot released The Death of Dulgath, the third volume of the Riyria Chronicles by acclaimed epic fantasy novelist, Michael J. Sullivan. Sullivan published thirteen books with Hachette and Random House and his titles were translated into thirteen languages globally. Aside from being a great writer, Sullivan is well-versed at platform creation. As a result, he connected with many of fans directly through various tools, including social media. When Sullivan approached Mascot about a distribution partnership, he turned to crowdfunding to both raise funds for production and engage his fan base. The results were astounding. It was the second most successful fiction Kickstarter of all-time with nearly 2,000 backers pledging nearly $100,000. With indie success at hand, we look forward to working together again later this year on the fourth novel in the series, the sequel to The Death of Dulgath. In Spring 2016, Mascot will release Once Upon a Parsnip by children’s book author Barbara Jean Hicks. Hicks is best known for her work with Disney Press on Frozen tie-in titles An Amazing Snowman and A Sister More Like Me. Prior to her work with Disney, she worked with Random House on various children’s titles including Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli, The Secret Life of Walter Kitty, I Like Black and White, and Jitterbug Jam. A tireless promoter, Hicks has teamed up with popular Bellingham, Washington artist, Ben Mann, and Mascot Books for this amazing project. Based on early outreach to our distribution channels, we’re expecting a first-class children’s book with first-class distribution. In the case of A-List authors, the traditional model is a no-brainer, particularly if it comes with a lucrative advance. It’s the rest of the writers out there that may want to revisit their publishing relationships by asking difficult questions about the four considerations above.

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