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From time to time, I like to feature interesting authors on my blog. Today's guest is no exception. I've been intrigued by the increasing trend for authors who are already released with publishers to go independent for some of all of their upcoming work, and asked today's guest, horror author Kody Boye, why he veered from the more traditional route.
Going Independent: Why It Makes You A Smarter Businessperson
A lot of people who have or have attempted to follow my career have asked (and, most likely, have privately wondered) why I’ve decided to ‘jump ship,’ more or less, by deciding to head toward a quasi-independent route. Given my set of traditional credentials and the path I could very well be taking, people wonder why it’s necessary (or even applicable) for me to go toward a self-publication journey instead of continuing the push toward a more ‘set in stone’ career. With that in mind, I want to delve into not only my reasoning, but how being independent (or at least mostly independent) can do you so much good as not only a writer, but a businessperson.
I started out what you can consider my ‘career’ back in 2007, after my first short story was published in the Yellow Mama Webzine. About that time, I had my eyes set on doing things ‘the right way’ or so I was told, a process which included writing, revising, submitting, getting accepted or rejected, revising accordingly and submitting again. This, I was told, was the ‘right way,’ and by that nature I accepted it.
That is, until a little while later.
In late 2008, I met a writer by the name of Rhiannon Frater who was taking a jump into the own realm of independent publishing. In the months that followed, I helped read through her books, looking for errors and inconsistencies, then tried to help her promote herself as best as I can. Through this promotion (both of which helped her and myself,) I learned not only how to promote oneself, but another.
Needless to say, after seeing Rhiannon’s success and seeing how things in the publishing world work, I decided to go, as I said, quasi-independent for a variety of reasons, which I’ll explain below.
1. I can promote the books just as well as any small-press publisher can. Most small presses rely on free mediums to promote their books and their authors. With that nature in mind, one can easily see how capable someone else is of promoting your work when you yourself could easily do the same thing, which can either be a hilt or the blade depending on just how hard you’re willing to take the ability of self promotion. The hilt can be your path, the blade upon which you can strike, or the blade can be the very thing that spears you in your gut. Such trials make you learn how to contact reviews, set up interviews and become a better businessperson. There is no trial without error. Practice makes perfect.
2. I can control who I contact. This may be part of my perfectionistic personality, but I like to know who I contact, when I contact them and when reviews and/or services are being worked on. Too many times have I had to depend on other people in order to work on publicizing my work. When that happens, things slow down and, ultimately, stop working to further promote the book, which is why I prefer being in direct control of who I contact and who I don’t.
3. I ultimately make more money. Some people might be of the opinion that the ‘art isn’t about the money,’ but when you’re working with publishers who are ultimately going to sell your work, it turns into less of a hobby and more of a business. Compared to the 10 – 25 percent I could get by going through a traditional publisher, I can make anywhere from 35 – 75 percent using outlets such as Createspace and Smashwords. Making thirty or seventy-five cents compared to three or seven cents off an eBook is a lot, especially when they start to add up.
4. I can choose who does what. The editor, the artist, the cover creator, the formatter—I can control each and every aspect of the process and decide exactly the way my book looks in the very end. This, again, may be part of my perfectionistic nature, but I doubt any author will say they don’t care about the way their book looks in the end. They want it to look like a gem, a crown jewel among a pile of stones.
5. I can beat out the competition with better pricing. I recently saw someone on Facebook say that they didn’t like the idea of ninety-nine cent eBooks, that they should be priced at 2.99 or higher in order not to ruin the eBook economy. With that sentiment in mind, and with that narcissistic nature out in the open, that means I can reach out to an audience who may not know who I am a lot easier. People are more willing to risk a dollar on an author they haven’t heard on than three bucks that may turn out to be shit or something they don’t really like.
These five reasons alone have given me the reason and the desire to go toward a more independent-based route. Have I always been of this opinion? Not particularly, but after seeing success stories such as J.L Borne, Rhiannon Frater and David Wong I’m all the more confident that I may very well climb to the levels of success that these fellow authors have. Does that mean it won’t be a lot of work? No, but it does mean that I have access and control over each and every aspect of my career no matter what happens.
Take a look at this:
J.L Bourne was Lulu.com’s bestselling horror author before he got picked up by Permuted Press. Now published through Simon and Schuster, his books are appearing in bookstores all over the country. I can hardly walk into one nowadays without seeing him in the horror or fantasy/science-fiction section.
Rhiannon Frater originally posted her fiction for free online. Shortly thereafter, her husband encouraged her to independently-publish after she was unable to get a traditional publisher and sold thousands of copies of her works. She sold all three of her novels to TOR Books and all are scheduled to be released this year. Everything she’s written as of today has been optioned for either film or TV.
David Wong also posted his novel John Dies at the End for free online, then was picked up by Permuted Press. St. Martin’s Press recently bought it and it is currently in the works to become a movie.
These success stories give me—and, I’m sure, many others—hope that going the independent route will help create my own success. I’ve worked for nearly five years to create the following that I currently have, and while I’m aware that it will take much longer for my real potential to be made, I think starting out now will ultimately help me create a career that will only continue to flourish within the coming years.
Kody Boye was born and raised in Southeastern Idaho. Since his initial publication in the Yellow Mama Webzine in 2007, he has gone on to sell nearly three-dozen stories to various markets. He is the author of Amorous Things, as well as the forthcoming novels Sunrise: The Revised and Expanded Edition and Pretty Things. His fiction has been described as ‘Surreal, beautiful and harrowing’ (Fantastic Horror,) while he himself has been heralded as a writer beyond his years(Bitten by Books.) He currently lives and writes in the Austin, Texas area. You can visit him online at KodyBoye.com.
New from Kody Boyd: THE DIARY OF DAKOTA KIMMEL
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Dakota Hammel was an ordinary teenager until he ran away from home at the age of sixteen, but after being brutally beaten, raped and left for dead, there seems to be little hope in his life—that is, until a man claiming to be a psychologist walks into the alleyway he’s lying near-dead in and offers him a second chance at life. John tells Dakota he can stay with him as long as he wants, but there’s a catch: For each day he stays, he has to write a journal entry about his life, his problems, and his potential future. With little choice, Dakota agrees, but is wary of the situation, as past experience with strangers has shown to have negative effects. But when things with John begin to work out and life becomes nothing out of the ordinary, his heart finally begins to open and his journey can finally be told.
A story of hope, of healing, and ultimately, of friendship, The Diary of Dakota Hammel offers a brief glimpse into a life of fractured teenager who has lost everything but his ability to write.