Just when you thought it was safe to finally self-publish your novel, a new challenge rears its’ ugly head to join the long list of problems facing authors today.
Writing a book and having it published is quite an accomplishment, no matter how you get there. Accomplishing that and having a successful career as an Indie (Independent) Author, is a whole other ball game.
Don’t Get Cocky
The latest challenge which played out on the internet recently was over Trademarking. Just search the word, “Cockygate” and you’ll find dozens of posts and articles describing what happened. The issue may take some time to fully resolve, but the bottom line is this case has the potential to forever change the way we use words, and how we as authors (and maybe even the rest of the world) can advertise.
Hopefully, it won’t be the worst-case scenario that many fear. But, it simply adds another brick to the growing wall of obstacles one faces when publishing on the internet.
What else, you may ask? Here’s just a few of the everyday challenges I see when talking with other Indie Authors on social media:
Pirates- illegal copies of books on websites, either for free or for sale (someone else making money off your hard work)
Troll reviewers- leaving bad reviews on books they never read, or due to shipping problems, or revealing spoilers
Retailers (especially the really big one) stripping pages read, stripping reviews, shutting down accounts with no explanation, accusing authors of breach of contract due to pirates having stolen their work, or scammers using their books without their knowledge, page reads suddenly dropping off, sales suddenly dropping off, not changing or correcting issues in a timely manner—all with no notice, little recourse and scant communication options
Losing money on pre-scheduled ads and promotions because of the above
Possibly unscrupulous readers obtaining books through giveaways and then selling them online, or returning them for money (when gifted online- of course they have the right; but did they get it for free to read, or just to get something for it? We never know).
Purchasers reading an entire series, and then returning all books for a refund (try that in any other industry. Not talking here about accidental purchases, but systematic read and returns).
I may have missed a few, feel free to add your own. This doesn’t even cover the subject of how e-books have been devalued due to so many free books on the market, but it bears consideration when looking at all the things which affect a career. Indies put so much time, effort, and money into their books, and get relatively little for each book in sales. So, any and all of the above challenges chip away at what could be profits.
Despite all of the above, I have found the Indie Author community to be some of the most helpful, patient, kind, supportive, and resilient bunch of people I have ever come across. They love writing so much, they keep going despite all the problems. They share information on social media, in blog posts, and in craft books, to help other authors fight the good fight to get our work into the hands of readers.
Yes, there are a few bad apples, or those who inadvertently piss others off, even though they mean well. But the vast majority of authors know this:
WE ARE NOT EACH OTHER’S COMPETITION!
We are stronger banding together. The beauty of writing books is, readers keep reading. Just because a reader has read every vampire romance novel out there, doesn’t mean she is done. If you write a good one, she’ll probably read that, too. So, having books that look similar, sound similar, have similar stories (tropes) are a good thing. It helps the readers find what they are looking for. Just because someone buys another author’s book, does not mean they won’t buy one of yours.
In fact, it usually has the opposite effect of spurring more sales, overall. Readers find new authors, authors find new readers.
Most Indie authors know this and strive to give the readers what they want. Yes, we all do “copy” each other—to a point. Except for plagiarism, of course. Don’t ever do that.
I was proud to be part of the Indie Author community this week, as I witnessed how creative the support for each other was. From sharing links to buying books, to joint promotions—Indies banded together like never before. There was even a hash tag, #ThisIsHowYouIndie. It was solidarity at its finest. A few of us had been affected by the Trademark issue, so all of us were.
So, go find your Tribe, and love them hard. How else are we going to face all the challenges of Indie Publishing, and celebrate our wins? We are all in these trenches together, so we may as well help each other.