Indie vs Traditional publishing

  • My experience at SCBWI and with my published friends has not been very pro indie publishing (almost a complete disdain toward it), so I never considered it but I recently listened to some podcasts on Indie publishing that has changed my perception on the subject. Do any of you have any thoughts/experiences with indie publishing? What were the pros and cons? How do those pros and cons compare to the pros and cons of traditional publishing?

  • SVS OG

    I"m not quite sure what you mean by indie publishing? If you mean projects that people are self publishing I have done several both on my own and with other people. This was a while ago before I was ready to be doing a full book (not that I am now). I did some pretty terrible stuff back then and I hate that it's still floating around out there with my name on it. I also didn't make any money at all. I think some publishers are turned off by it. But there are a lot of exceptions tons of kickstarters seem to be successful. I think if it's good enough it will sell.

  • So this is the podcast I listened to:

    @evilrobot I would consider Indie publishing to be anything that doesn't go through a traditional publishing house. It means (for good or bad) no agent, no submissions, no editor, no art director, and no sharing of the earnings. My traditionally published friends kind-of "look down their noses" at those who indie publish--as if that is an indication you can't write/draw, because if you could, you would be traditional published. But I find the traditional market to be very decisive and exclusive. And, as was pointed out in the podcast, if more great books were to publish independently, it would increase the value of indie publishing.

    I believe this forum to be less prejudice toward creative ways to publish--like kickstarter etc--than SCBWI forums so I was curious what other's experiences/opinions are regarding this subject.

  • I am open to indie but that is mainly because (hopefully no one freaks out or is offended) but I use tarot and buy indie decks and have produced a few and am illustrating one now. In that industry it is the opposite the artist has more creative control and the quality is not mass produced so the cardstock generally is better. So they cost more due to the lower printing volume but are valued more than the mass market. Because of this I don't have any preconceived notions about this industry. My opinion might change not sure.

    I have always learned how to do something better if I have a real project to work on so instead of trying to come up with portfolio pieces or rely on drawing challenges for them I have created a story for a picture book that I have dummied out and started on. My friend suggested I indie it but the purpose of it really is to just show a framework to get published hopefully.

    With all that being said I definitely would not judge anyone for self publishing or think they were less for it at all.

  • SVS OG

    I think its a matter of WHAT and HOW MUCH work you want to do.

    When you self publish, you do pretty much EVERYTHING. I think it goes without saying that when you do everything, it isn't all done on a professional level, BUT you have control and know everything thats going on with your book. And of course, you get to keep ALL of your profits because you do all the work. ALL the work--writing, drawing, art, editing, designing, marketing, distributing--and all the up front cash as well, which is a big one, particularly if you want to outsource some of these functions.

    Personally, I'm not really interested in doing any of those but the writing and art, and (editing of those). So, traditional is my goal. Those that are more business-minded however, who want more control of their product, indie might be the way to go.

    I think there is some of this reputation of indie books being "lesser" than traditional because generally all those things end up being done at an amateur level and you end up with an overall amateur product--BUT not always! Many people on this forum are capable of producing high-level work, for example. Some indie-published book do all these things very well. Unfortunately, from what I've seen those are the exception rather than the rule. Thus the reputation.

    Anyway, I feel like I'm just rambling so I'll stop now 🙂

  • I like both - they're tools which each have their place in the creative universe.

    Everyone's previous comments on this seem spot on with my own experiences. One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is that if you are an illustrator working the indie market with self-publishing author clients, you won't necessarily have more control, you will simply be controlled by someone who most likely has less experience than traditional publishing staff, and the work's quality may damage your reputation in certain areas. Will Terry's YouTube channel is a great resource for advice in working with self-publishing clients.

    But let's say you're an author/illustrator and it's a niche market book for a highly specific audience - that's one time Indie may be better than Traditional.

    It really has to be a good fit for either tool. Unfortunately so many people go Indie thinking that Traditional publishing is stuck up, when in fact it's more about quality control and potential sales. I'd say Good Indie doesn't avoid the teachings, if you will, of Traditional - it should not be an "easier" path, but a freer one.

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