Guest Post from Martha Bourke: The Tale of the Accidental Indie Author
For those who are open-minded about publishing possibilities, there are a lot of decisions to make when you write a book. Nowadays, there are three routes that can be taken: traditional, indie, and a hybrid of the two. The decision can be tough for a lot of authors. Some writers start down the traditional road and find it suits them nicely. Others try it only to find that it’s not for them and go the Indie route. Still many seem to know from the beginning that they want to publish on their own. Some authors choose to do both. It’s really up to the individual author.
That is, except in my case.
You see, I became an accidental indie author. Jaguar Sun made the decision for me because the end of the Mayan calendar in December 2012 is part of the plot. It typically takes one to two years for a traditional publisher to release a book. I finished writing the first draft in April 2011. I realized there wouldn’t be enough time for a publishing house to get Jaguar Sun on the market even if it were to be accepted. So, I found the door to the traditional route closed to me before I even started. Decision made.
Indie publishing can certainly be done quickly, but it still has to be done well. I also still had deadlines. I figured I would need to get Jaguar Sun on the market at the very beginning of 2012, as it needed time to find its audience. As I researched the indie process, I decided that I wanted to contract out for several services because I didn’t have time to learn it all myself. That meant I would need an editor, a proofreader, a formatter, and a cover artist. There are a lot of indie authors who choose to do these things for themselves. If you’re truly talented at any of the four, it can save you some or even a lot of money. Unfortunately, I don’t fall into that category.
A decent editor runs an indie author anywhere from $200-1500 or more. I know that’s a big price tag. I went for middle of the way, simply because I was lucky enough to find an editor that was good and could do the work quickly enough. Back then, I was too unfamiliar with the process to know I could have had it done just as well for less money. If you really look, you can find a good editor that will work with you on all aspects of a manuscript for $200-400. I also had to pay my proofreader. Again, I overpaid. I should have been able to find a great proofreader for $100, but I paid twice that amount. My cover artist is excellent and charges about $150-250, depending on how long it takes and how much work goes into it. The money that I spend for my formatter is about that much as well. I am now able to put out a book for about $700, while doing only the writing and then the work with my editor. Someone else handles everything else, although I have final say on all aspects of my books.
Since publishing the first book in the Jaguar Sun series, I have published the second book, Jaguar Moon, a prequel novella, and I’ve started an adult spin-off of the series called the New Breed Novels. So, the question is, will I stay indie? For me, the answer is yes. Everything I have learned has come from the indie community. They found me, taught me everything I know, and now I pass that on to other indie authors. It’s been a very powerful experience. I also get to publish my books my way, on my own time table, and choose my pricing, sales outlets, etc. That works well for me.
Does that mean I would never sign on that dotted line? Never say never, but for now, I’m happy where I am. The indie community feels like home.
Martha and her husband of fourteen years have carved out their own little piece of Vermont in the Massachusetts countryside. When not writing, Martha loves spending time with her animals, good music, thrifting, and adding to her Converse collection.
Martha has been very special to J since they first “met” on Twitter. J was hiding in her closet during a tornado warning, and Martha stayed with her until the storm was over. That care and concern for a virtual stranger has endeared Martha to J (and M by extension) forever. Visit Martha on her Goodreads page, her blog, and her website. You can also follow her on Twitter. You can also buy her books at Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.