The Top 5 Reasons Traditional Authors Are Going Indie


It’s probably not a surprise–we’re always hearing about authors who have previously published traditionally choosing to go indie.  But what is making them? When they’ve been accepted by the literary elites, and they’ve been given advances and have received the support of a publisher, what motivation could make them switch to publishing independently?

The top 5 reasons we see authors going indie:

1. The “support” traditional publishers offer is no longer as relevant or valuable.

Traditionally, publishers would give authors a nice, fat advance. Then they’d take the brand-spankin’-new author’s book, publish it, deliver it to the exclusive sales channels (the traditional bookstores, unreachable to anyone but publishers and the ONLY place anyone ever bought books), and send the author on a multi-city book tour where the author was met by eager and ready readers.

Today, thanks to Amazon, those once-exclusive sales channels are near extinct. And the book tour? Not gonna happen.

2. The financial rewards are no longer worth it.

You know that nice, fat advance? Not unless you’re EL James, kids. And guess what else! You don’t get a dime back until you pay your publisher back through book sales! Cha-ching!

3. Authors have to do the same amount of work to market regardless of how they publish.

As publishers’ methods of marketing are near extinct, and they won’t reinvent, authors are forced to use all the means at their disposal to get the word out about their book. And guess what: regardless of how you publish, your marketing process is going to look exactly the same.

4. Self-publishing options are getting better, leaner, meaner, and more readily available.

Every day, we’re hearing about another consolidation, merger, or bankruptcy in traditional publishing. Where are all of those talented publishing professionals going? They’re freelancing. And they’re not just freelancing for their previous employers–they’re freelancing for indies. I can name dozens of editors, designers, proofreaders, etc. who have previously been employed by a traditional publisher and now work for indie authors.


Authors want and deserve creative control over what audiences they reach and how to reach them. And, since authors are doing all of the (effective) marketing, they want the rewards. Simple, right?

Genese Davis is an indie author we (Wise Ink) worked with whose new-adult gamer-fiction title, The Holder’s Dominion, just launched today. She was encouraged by multiple agents and publishers to change her genre to YA–but to Davis, doing so would shift the whole mission of the book. In an article she wrote for  Publishers Weekly January 2013, Davis said,

 When it came down to it, I couldn’t change the heart of the story. The whole foundation revolves around that ‘shove’ we all go through into adulthood. When we leave the nest, we’re forced to grow up quickly. Beyond our high school days are powerful new adult stories that begin and blossom in our late teens and early 20s. Inevitably, I had to rebel, go rogue, and keep my book as the crossover genre it was then, and proclaim it proudly as the new adult genre it is now.

Davis decided to forge into uncharted territory rather than change her book to fit in someone else’s vision. And it’s already paying off! To date, she has already pre-sold hundreds of copies. And guess what else? She’s not paying a publisher back with those sales–she’s paying herself back.

(We’ll be interviewing Davis next week about her launch and marketing efforts–be sure to check in!)

Authors: Have you had to make the decision to publish traditionally or go indie? What did you decide? Why? What challenges did you face? Are you glad you made the decision you did?