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Can Indie Authors Dispense with The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook?

I’d like to share the guest blog post I recently wrote for The Alliance of Independent Authors [ALLi]. It went up on July 18th…

W&AYearbook1999-1When I first decided to become a published author, I bought a copy of Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and The Writer’s Handbook. The year was 1999. I still have them. I resolved to purchase updated versions a few years later when I finally finished my novel. After all, I’d need all those addresses for agents, editors and publishers to send my manuscript to.

And here I am – ahem! – 15 years later and I’ve finally finished my novel. (That’s a whole different story, so let’s not get into that!) So, as per my prior resolution, I now need to buy a copy of Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2014. Don’t I?

Actually, no. I don’t!

Am I mad? Perhaps. But there is a simple reason: I’m an indie author and proud to be so.

I’m professionally self-publishing my debut novel this year. I have no need for addresses of agents, editors and publishers. I don’t need advice on how to best construct a query letter that might help my manuscript stand out within the slush pile. And I never needed all those magazine editor names and addresses anyway.

Writers Handbook 1999Back in 1999, self-publishing was frowned upon, was financially risky and unlikely to achieve any success. It was closely linked to vanity publishing, where the horror stories of the time had images of authors stockpiling thousands of prepaid copies of their books in their garages, flooded with water.

But roll forward 15 years and we now have a viable method of self publishing. We have eBooks and print on demand. The barriers between author and reader have been completely removed. The author has more control, if they choose to take it.

The traditional publishing world still exists, but it’s in turmoil. There is still a place for Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook in 2014. Not every author wants to dip their toes in the bit that comes after writing their book, the murky world of publishing and marketing. But I do. And thousands of fellow authors like me are doing so too.

I’m not choosing to self-publish because I can’t get an agent or a publisher. I haven’t even tried to find one. Honestly! And I have no intention of doing so.

I’m self-publishing because, like anyone, I can. Because I want to take control of my own destiny. As I approach my novel’s launch, I’ve learned it’s not easy, but I am enjoying the journey immensely.

I’m not doing it blindly. I’m taking advice from fellow indie publishers, who are all so generous with sharing their learnings via their blogs and podcasts. I’m a proud member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, which is focused on fostering ethics and excellence in self-publishing and encouraging success.

I’m not doing all of it myself, either. Peter O’Connor from Bespoke Book Covers created my amazing book cover. Bryony Sutherland (no relation) edited my manuscript. (Indie publishing best practice mandates that cover design and editing should be outsourced to professionals).

But, as an indie, I’m choosing to do the rest. I’m formatting the interior of the print book. I’m creating the ebook. I’ll write the press releases and target the press. I’ll find advanced readers in my personal network and on Goodreads, which I’ll also use to create advanced buzz through giveaways. But even if I hadn’t wanted to (or wasn’t capable of) doing all these other steps, there are companies out there who can assist indie publishers, for a fee of course. And, helpfully, ALLi warns you away from the shark agent-assisted publishing companies that have started to circle around unwary indie authors.

If indie authors don’t need all the names and addresses listed in the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook 2014, whose names and addresses do they need? Well, here’s my free indie author version of Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook in under a page:

  • Agent – you don’t need one of these initially. Maybe later, if you need someone to help you sell rights in other territories.
  • Publisher – your own home address; you don’t need to look that up, surely?
  • Editorial Services – these folks only had a few pages in The Writer’s Handbook 1999. Just go to eLance or use ALLi’s recommended list.
  • Cover Designer – missing from Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. Google it.
  • Marketing – yourself again. Use Facebook, Twitter, and any other form of social media you can handle. And Google for advice.
  • Author website – WordPress or Blogger.
  • Advanced reviews – Goodreads giveaways and your own friends or followers.
  • Readers – they’re not in Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook either. Or in the traditional publishing world. But they can be in yours. Use social media or, even better, your own website to manage an email list to engage with your readers.
  • Printing – Createspace and Ingram Spark.
  • ebook – Amazon, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, Smashwords (in that order).
  • Inspirational articles on securing an agent or publisher – hmmm? l think you get the message!

2014-guideBefore posting this, I thought I’d double-check to see if Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2014 has acknowledged the indie publishing world. And, to my surprise, there is actually an article in there called “What to look for in a self-publishing provider” by Jeremy Thomspon of Matador, one of the many agent assisted self-publishing companies offering services to indie authors. For the record, it’s owned by Troubador, a traditional publisher. Make of that what you will.

My favourite takeaway though, is that 2014 marks the 107th version of Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. But its the first time it’s been published as an ebook. The world is indeed a-changing.

 

When this was published on ALLi’s website, they invited Alysoun Owen, Editor, Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook to respond. You can read her response in the original article on ALLi’s site.

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