Why I Joined The Indie Life (And Why I Think You Should Do The Same)

YES THOSE ARE MY DOUBLE DUTCH BRAIDS I AM QUITE PROUD OF THEM :''')
We have finally reached an advanced point in time where the word “indie” is no longer considered incorrect grammar by spellcheck. THIS MAKES ME VERY PROUD OF PLANET EARTH AND ITS CONTENTS. You’ve probably heard this term floating around for a while (unless you’ve spent the greater portion of your life hiding under a rock) and I’m here today to let y’all know that THIS TERM IS BASICALLY MY LIFE. I am an indie musician and an indie author and who knows what other indie thing I’ll be in the future. I’m just starting out on this incredible journey, but I already have a lot to shout about. SO LET’S GET STARTED.


Indie is more than just an aesthetic.* Indie is short for independent. So if you are producing content without holding the hand of a larger corporation, CONGRATULATIONS. You are indie. The most popular indie stuff you’ll see around is: indie music, indie books, and indie films. But the indie lifestyle reaches far beyond music, books, and films! You can basically be an indie anything, as long as there is no middleman helping you get your content out into the world.

Last week I was stuck in a large sticky dentist chair being asked question about My Life™ by a hygienist who flossed my teeth and expected me to answer with spoken words. I told her that I am a singer/songwriter and that I am currently recording my first album. She thought that was cool and said, “So are you going to send your album to some record labels?” AND LET ME TELL YOU THAT IDEA FELT SO FOREIGN TO ME. Like…send my album to record labels? WHOEVER HEARD. I told her that I’m going to publish my music independently and it suddenly struck me that this is still a very new way to be a musician. THE INDIE LIFE IS STILL A SMOL REVOLUTION. But it’s a revolution that has already changed my life.

*In fact, it’s not an aesthetic at all. But the “indie aesthetic” has kind of been attached to indies who have an aesthetic of minimalism/hipster/free spirit. BTW I HAVE THAT INDIE AESTHETIC HELLO.


Although publishing music and publishing books are two entirely different ballgames* they are also very similar. I made a thing. I want to share it with the world. How am I going to do it? If I wrote a book, I would look for an agent – and hopefully find one that likes my book. The agent would then knock on doors of publishing houses and try to sell them my book. Maybe someone would take it and run with it and my book would eventually be on the New York Times bestseller list.

MUAHAHA I CAN HEAR YOU ALREADY begging to know: “Abbiee, doesn’t this sound like a GOOD THING?? Getting a book deal is what every writer dreams about!!” VERY TRUE. And I can’t pretend that I’ve never dreamed about it. But my dreams have shifted a bit higher since I’ve learned about the indie movement. If I hadn't shifted my sights, I would be sulking hopelessly and thinking very lowly of myself.


INDIE IS A WHOLE DIFFERENT LIFESTYLE. If I wrote a book and decided to indie publish it, I would edit that book to perfection, format it according to publishing/ebook standards, then publish it through an indie distributor.** The rest would be up to me. I am the one running with my book. I am the one marketing and advertising and communicating with my readers. Indie basically means: you are doing all the work yourself. This might seem like a worse deal but TRUST ME IT PAYS OFF.

*jk jk THEY’RE NOT BALLGAMES AT ALL THEY ARE JOBS???
**For the sake of your eyeballs I’m not going to get incredibly in-depth about this here. But if you want to learn more about the indie publishing process PLEASE SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST and check out the links I’ve shared!!

Absolutely nothing is wrong with traditional. NOTHING IS WRONG WITH DINOSAUR BONES EITHER – in fact they are quite fascinating. But they belong in museums now. The traditional publishing industry is quickly become a relic and they know it. Indies are sprouting up all over the place and the traditional publishing industry’s blood pressure is rising.*

Does that mean I want to put publishing houses out of business? OF COURSE NOT. I simply want to be my own publishing house. The pros of indie publishing far outweigh the pros of traditional publishing. LET’S MAKE A LIST and y’all can see for yourselves.

*because industries OBVIOUSLY have hearts and blood DO NOT QUESTION MY LOGIC. 


PROS:

• You don’t have to run all the way with your book. You simply hand it off to an agent (if you’re lucky enough to find one that likes your book) and then the agent simply hands it off to a publishing house (if they’re lucky enough to find one that likes your book.)

• Your book will be published and available in bookstores. How cool, right??

• Said publishing house will tell their audience about your book. Usually there are a lot of people in this audience.


CONS:

• You’re not running all the way with your book. You’re handing it off to an agent and a publishing company. Once you sign a contract YOUR BABY IS NO LONGER YOUR BABY. You have basically sold your baby into slavery.

• Said publishing company wants you to have an audience as well. Why would they shout to their platform about your book if you don’t have a platform for them to steal as well?

• Your hands are tied. If you wanted to make your book into a series but the publishing house decided that the first book wasn’t working out for them, they might very well call the whole thing off. After all, they are in charge now. YOUR BABY IS NOT YOUR BABY, I TELL YOU.

• Royalty dirt. The average author profits about 15% of their book sales AT BEST. Said publishing house takes the other 85%. Of course 15% could be a fortune if your book is a best-seller. But in that case, what kind of fortune is the publishing house making from YOUR book?



PROS:

• You do all the work. From start to finish, your book is YOURS. That means you get to decide how big or small the success is. From first draft to marketing, this thing is your responsibility.

• Royalty heaven. Roles are basically reverse for an indie author: you are getting the majority of the profit and a tiny portion is going to the distributor you are publishing through. (Much like indie music – the distributor’s job is to deliver the goods in a format that people can receive. And we have to give them a small fraction of money for that. BECAUSE WE ARE NICE.)

• Freedom to do whatever you want. This is probably the best benefit to indie publishing. You can go after your dreams! If you want to make that book into a series or publish a companion novella with it, THESE DECISIONS ARE UP TO YOU AND YOU ALONE.

• Publishing houses will chase down success (aka YOU.) If you have successfully self-published a book and it becomes a hit (or a NYT best-seller) THEM PUBLISHING HOUSES WILL BE HUNTING YOU DOWN. Because they want in on the goods. I know of a self-published author who signed a SEVEN FIGURE book deal with a publishing house for PRINT ONLY rights to her books. LOL LET THAT SINK IN FOR A MINUTE.


CONS:

• You do all the work. From start to finish, your book is YOURS. That means long hours and lots of learning. You write. You edit (or get someone to edit for you.) You learn about formatting. You market. You advertise. You build a platform. You publish.

• I honestly cannot think of another con.


Absolutely not. Indie publishing (books or music or anything) is hard work. And let me tell you: IT PAYS OFF. But not everyone is willing to put in the amount of endurance and perseverance it takes to run with your thing and make it great. (Although it also takes quite a bit of hard work to plead with record labels and agents and publishing houses to PLEEEASE LIKE YOUR THING.)

For some people, the traditional route might be more comforting. But after long hours of researching both roads, I can surely tell you that THERE IS NO GOING BACK FOR ME. The indie life has swallowed me whole and I love it here. Freedom can be a scary thing but it can also be the most beautiful thing of all. I want to be my own boss. I want to be as successful with my art as I possibly can be. And I’ve learned that the only way to do this is to jump headlong into the indie life.

The world is becoming a different place.* Just fifty years ago absolutely none of this would be possible. But now with this NEWFANGLED INTERNET GIZMO** we are able to connect with the whole world and be masters of our own careers. The gate keepers have left their gates. Now it’s time for us to put on our fedora hats and boho scarves, grab a mason jar of iced tea and a polaroid camera AND WALK THROUGH THAT OPEN GATE.

*wow I feel like Lord Grantham rn
**#datoldladylyfe

Have you joined the indie life? Have you ever considered joining the indie life? Or indie publishing books or music or ANYTHING ELSE?? Would you love to be your own boss or would you hate it? Have I convinced you to reconsider the indie life?

love,
abbiee


WHO WANTS SOME YUMMY RESOURCES?? If you’re a writer and interested in indie publishing (or you just want to LEARN about indie publishing) I would highly recommend The Self-Publishing Formula podcast and The Creative Penn podcast. These peeps are INCREDIBLY knowledgeable on all things indie publishing and simply listening to their podcasts has propelled me with inspiration as I tackle this journey. 

40 comments

  1. I plan on self-publishing my own books someday, but your post just made me feel even more excited for that day. :D I definitely want to check out those podcasts sometime.

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    1. EEEP GOOD FOR YOU NATALIE!! *major high fives* I'm so glad this post was inspiring. :''')

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  2. ok I am enlightened and alsO proud of you. LOVE THIS. now can I also be indie

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    1. ASDFGHJKL THANK YOU LIV. :'''') *hugs you a lot*

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  3. Wow, that's many good reasons to join the indie life! x) honestly so proud of you tho dude <3

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    1. GAH THANK YOU SO MUCH ABBY YOU'RE SO KIND. <333

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  4. Funny, most of my favorite musicians are indie artists, and I love their music for so many reasons that a lot of mainstream artists don't exactly hit.

    I may have a go with traditional publishing before having indie-- I've done a ton of research, and yes, if what people care for is making all dollars off of their books, then traditional isn't for them. I do see that there are others involved with traditional, additional editors and whatnot, and while they may end up binding you down, they can still also be really helpful.

    Honestly, money isn't as important to me as it is to write and share my story, and I don't care which platform it goes on as long as it turns out successful, meaning a lot of people get a chance to read it and like it. Although don't get me wrong, I feel fight hard if I feel that my story is being taken a completely different direction than intended by the publishers, I'm fighting hard.

    xoxo Morning

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    1. Mmm I totally agree, Morning! Indie music is next level. *adjusts cool shades* No doubt traditional publishing holds a lot of editors/agents/publishers and many other people who do their job well. And they certainly are helpful with publishing books. But I have to disagree just on the "sharing" aspect. When I publish my books one day I'm not just going after the money. I want to share my stories with the world too -- and when I control the platform I can control whether or not the book is a success, if that makes sense. To me, success is not just "making all dollars" -- it is sharing my story with as many people as possible because I want to touch their lives with my story. :) I've found that the best way to do that is to be in control of where your book goes. But we all have different opinions and I respect that. <3 Thank you so much for reading, Morning!!

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  5. I love it! Just the whole independence thing is great! Keep it up my friend!

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    1. EEEEP THANK YOU FOR BEING SO SUPPORTIVE VANESSA. :''')

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  6. This is such a great post! I didn't know too much about indie business before, but you explained it really well. I think I may lean more towards traditional publishing, but indie publishing would be very interesting to explore!

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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    1. Thank you so much Ellie!! I'm so glad I explained it well. Sometimes people ask me what exactly indie means and I'm just like "ummmm..." xD Yeah you should totally explore indie publishing! tbh it's soooo fascinating. :) Thank you for reading!!

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  7. I have grown to love a lot of indie music after discovering Noisetrade.com. They have a really cool concept there, and you should check it out because they no longer just do music. They have books on the website too. Essentially, you give out an example of your work for free, and people can download it in exchange for their e-mail address and postal code (they also have the option of leaving a tip) so you can build a platform. Plus, if the readers/listeners like what they find, they can easily share it with their friends.

    Personally, I don't know what I'll do if I get a story to the publishing part. It's a bit of a scary thought...

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    1. Oooh I feel like I've heard of NoiseTrade but I've never been on there before... it looks so awesome!! I'm definitely going to look more into this. Thank you for sharing that link! :) And thank you so much for reading! <3333

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  8. Wow, great post! I'm bookmarking for the future. ;)
    I'm really liking this indie idea. (I'm pretty independent personality-wise anyhoo, so maybe this would be more my jam than traditional?) You explained the meaning of indie really well. (You're also extremely good at convincing) ;) Hehe.

    Sophy

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    1. EEEP THANK YOU SO MUCH SOPHIA. :') Your support means the world to me. Sounds like you would love the indie life!! *fist bump* let's break the rules together, yo. ;) Thank you for reading, dear!!

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  9. THIS IS SO COOL! I haven't quite done enough research yet to decide which route I feel most comfortable going with, but it's so awesome how you're doing this!! Super proud of you my fairy squad mother waffle queen. <3

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    1. THANK YOU GRACE ANNE I LOVE YOU MY FAIRY SQUAD CHILD. :'''') <3

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  10. I'd never really given much thought to indie publishing before reading this post, if I'm honest. I want to get my book and my message out to the world, yes, but now I'm thinking of the publishing houses being kind of like the BIG BAD WOLF and my book the house made of sticks: they'll huff and puff and take the essence of my book away.

    This is definitely something for me to think about, so I thank you for this post, Cait!

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    1. I'm so glad this post inspired you to reexamine the publishing industry! :) Indie has definitely become a more viable option over the years and it's totally worth looking into. Thank you so much for reading, Sunset!! <3

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  11. IKR I think handing my book over to a publisher would just be scarily awesome. I'm going to be publishing my first draft via lulu so I can have like my own book in my hands (plus, it will be handy for editing.) xD

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    1. I'm planning on doing the same thing, Sarah!! When I'm done line editing my novel I'm going to get it in print book form so that my family can read it (which is a whole other level of scary but lololol i will survive maybe with waffles.) Thank you so much for reading!!

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  12. I LOVE THIS! (also this is completely random but your double dutch braids are pretty awesome. i'm just over here trying to figure out what wrong with my ponytail.)
    I'm still not sure what route I'd want to go, but I guess by that time I'd have figured it out. HOPEFULLY. But that is so cool that you're going this way! Having a big audience before you go publish indie is definitely a big boost. This will definitely get me thinking about this :)

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    1. AW THANK YOU DEAR. :') I've worked very hard on dem braids. Even still the Pinterest photos are sO MUCH BETTER LIKE WHY??? I wish my hair was thicker but whatev. "Having a big audience before you go publish indie is definitely a big boost." <<< *is nodding violently* tbh that and marketing is what it comes down to. But we have all the resources at our fingertips!! ;) Thank you so much for reading, Autumn! <3

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  13. I think Indie and traditional are great and definitely suit different people for different reasons! I'm avidly pursing traditional publishing myself *nods* But I would like to quietly whisper that a few of your traditional cons aren't actually true! Publishers do a lot to make sure their authors are happy too. *nods* They don't just go and chance stuff without getting the thumbs up from an author. :) And they definitely don't require you to have an audience. My agent and I are submitting to publishers and she didn't even know I ran a blog because I forgot to mention it haha. So audience didn't factor in at all when I landed an agent. Unfortunately it's true about the royalties and if they don't want to finish publishing a series, so that's definitely a con. *sad face* For me traditional definitely outweighs indie, just for the fact that I don't have to do it alone! I have professionals giving advice and helping me make my work fantastic. I'M NOT BRAVE OR KNOWLEDGEABLE ENOUGH TO DO THAT ON MY OWN. haha.😂😂 So I definitely admire you for going the indie route! SO MUCH PRESSURE OMG. I definitely don't think traditional publishing is going out of business (like I recently hard Leigh Bardugo just got a 7 figure publishing deal for a new series?! Phew...definitely not going out of business there!) , but I do think indie is on the rise, which is great to give people more opportunities.

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    1. Omg that was meant to say "they don't go an CHANGE stuff" ahhahha not chance. #fail

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    2. The awesome thing is that we have options now — I totally agree!! Opportunity is where it's at, yo. ;) Although I don't recall ever saying that publishing houses don't try to make authors happy?? I only said that when you sign a contract you are basically selling your book (most times at a questionable price) to the publishing house and in return they will publish and sell your book for you and etc. Also it's usually the job of the editor to "change stuff" if any changing has to be done. I do know quite a bit about traditional publishing AND indie publishing (or else I wouldn't have even addressed it in this post — because getting my facts straight is important to me) and I know that an author is certainly much more attractive to a publishing house if said author has an audience. (I never said your agent would require this, though. But I'm glad to hear that you're working with an agent who seems very interested in helping you to be successful.)

      As I said in the post, I don't think indie is for everyone — and it's especially not for people who feel more comfortable going into a venture with a team. Because that, in essence, is what a publishing house helps with — inserting you into a team. As for me, I'm more interested in someday building my own team, but as I said: to each their own! :) Again, I don't want to see publishing houses go out of business — but indie publishing is absolutely on the rise and, in certain markets, exceeding sales of traditionally published books. But I won't get all geeky on you right now lol. Thank you for reading, Cait! <3

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    3. Oh absolutely with the "each to their own" and I totally think it's great that there's opportunities for everyone to go in the direction they want! And I'm really glad you're building a team and going to launch your career along the indie pathways and it makes you happy. THAT'S WHAT'S IMPORTANT.

      And omg sorry! I must've misinterpreted your words. I apologise. When you said "The traditional publishing industry is quickly become a relic and they know it." I assumed that meant you thought traditional publishing was on the way out? When I definitely think it's not! I've been kind of working behind-the-scenes there for three years now and I'd definitely say it's not on the way out. :) But that's my experience. And I didn't mean to indicate that you hadn't researched!! OF course not. I know you would have made a very informed decision about your choice between indie vs traditional. But just as someone who has an agent, I know traditional publishing isn't as dire as the-author-has-little-say-and-their-book-is-now-in-slavery. But yeeeeah. I'm sorry if I came across wrong! I DON'T MEAN TO.

      And I can't wait till I can buy your book someday and flail over it!! *gives waffles of apology*

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  14. I totally agree: indie life is awesome! I'm planning to pursue indie publishing myself in the next year. I'd much rather edit myself than write query letters :P I am not prejudice against traditional publishing, but the horizon looks so broad and free with indie publishing!

    - audrey caylin
    http://audreycaylin.blogspot.com/

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    1. WOOOT SO HAPPY TO HEAR THAT AUDREY! *high fives you* "I am not prejudice against traditional publishing, but the horizon looks so broad and free with indie publishing!" <<< SAME. And editing > query letters any day lol. ;) Thank you so much for reading!

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  15. Man, this post gave me a lot to think about. Even though I'm not in the place where I'm thinking about publishing, you instilled in me some sort of hope that this can some day happen, AND I AM THE ONE WHO WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN. Like, I can make my dream come true with a bit of work.

    Great post, Abbiee! I've missed them (and the blogging world) a lot these past couple of month. Much love,

    Hannah

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    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH HANNAH. You have no idea how much your comment brightened my day. :') That's exactly why I'm coming off probably obnoxious in this post — because I'm super passionate about this!! I've learned something about publishing that, to me, is invaluable information. And I'm so excited to share it with everyone! Because the idea of indie publishing has completely changed my hopes for the future. :) Thank you so much for reading, dear!! *big hugs and lots of waffles*

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  16. Okay for some reason before I was partially opposed to self publishing and all that indie do it yourself thing
    But now I'm like totally converted
    I actually think this sounds awesome being your own master sort of thing with your book and such
    This was awesome!!!!! Slot to think about now that I have this hope that maybe in the next year or two I could self publish?!

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    1. HANNAH THIS COMMENT MAKES ME SO HAPPY I AM SMILING SO HARD RIGHT NOW. :') I'm so happy I've converted you!! EEEEP. <3 That's the most rewarding aspect of all, in my humble opinion: being your own boss. I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE WHERE YOU GO WITH THIS BRO. *hugs and waffles* Thank you so much for reading!!

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  17. Oooh, I definitely agree with you now that I've read this post. I always used to think that it would be a shame if I published a book and I didn't get much of a say in marketing and design. I can understand why indie is on the rise!

    Good on you for taking the braver route! Road not taken. :')

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    1. YES THERE ARE SO MANY GOOD THINGS ABOUT INDIE PUBLISHING. And I totally agree — that was always a turnoff for me, too. Design and marketing is some of the most important stuff. I would absolutely want to be in on it (aka in charge of it muahaha.) Thank you so much for reading, Jo!

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  18. Ok can I just say that, I love your that you are a research fiend. I love how you cited some of the experts in the indie field and really fact checked everything. I love what author Neil Gaiman says about "the gate keepers leaving their gates". Traditional publishing is already having to adapt HUGELY to the up and coming, (and much more artistically liberating) indie world-- anyone seriously in the field, writing for a career like myself, knows this. Indie IS the future. You made some awesome points, and basically nailed everything 100%. So props to you, Nancy Drew.

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  19. Oops, accidently just fell in love with your blog. Why did no one tell me that you existed and that your blog was flawless, hmm?

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kind words are like raindrops on the desert. they make me bloom with happiness, as absolutely cliche and cheesy as that sounds. even if it's just a simple alt+3 i will heart you for it. so, go ahead! MAKE MY DAY. literally.