Tomorrow kicks off the 4th Annual Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off otherwise known as SPFBO. Three hundred authors compete for the coveted bragging rights of being the #spfbo champion. Ten bloggers judge the book entries, narrowing it down to the top ten, and then finally the ONE!
Last year, I interviewed many of the authors, and it was a lot of fun getting to know them. For an indie author, any exposure is good, and the networking possibilities of this competition are fantastic. This year, I will continue to interview the current batch of #SPFBO contestants. I don’t have a book in the running this year, but I love contest and want to support it as much as possible.
To that effect, my Author Interviews will feature #spfbo participants and will post on Tuesdays each week for the next few months.
I’m a firm believer that self-publishing and indie authors have a great deal to offer. There are many overlooked and hidden gems in the self-publishing world. And while there is a somewhat valid argument that self-publishing doesn’t have any ‘gatekeepers,’ and there is a mile high pile of first draft quality self-published books in the market, most of the indie authors I know and work with make every effort to produce professional quality work that is on par with traditionally published works.
There are as many reasons to self-publish as there are authors and books. I’m grateful to Mark Lawrence for hosting SPFBO because it showcases some of the best of the self-publishing world.
Over last year’s interviews, I noticed a common theme when answering the questions about why authors chose to self-publish. Many of the answers reflected my own reasoning for making that choice.
Many self-publishers want full creative control of the content of their work. They don’t want a publisher telling them that to shoehorn elements in because the publisher’s sole goal is to make money. They want to produce a good story. One that makes sense and is believable. They want a story that the reader will invest themselves into the lives of the characters. They don’t want to write to a formula. As an indie author, they have complete control and if they want to take a project down a more artistic path, they can. Yes, self-publishers want to make money and sell books. But, that’s not always their only goal.
2. Niche writing
I tend to write stories that are cross-genre mash-ups. Meaning for a traditional publisher, they are hard to market. It’s difficult to find an agent or publisher interested in buying a story that doesn’t fit neatly into one genre. As an indie author, I’m not limited to one or two genres. Yes, it’s harder to find a home for those books, but they’re a lot of fun to write. I have the option as an indie author to put out books that don’t fit the traditional genres. If they only sell to a small select market, that’s fine. Don’t get me wrong. I want to sell books. But, since one of my books is a mix of fairy tale and hard-boiled detective fiction, traditional publishers are likely going to have a hard time selling it. I’m okay with that. I still have the option of getting the work out to readers by choosing the self-publishing route.
This is true for other self-publishers as well. They have more flexibility in terms of marrying genres or concepts that don’t appear like they will go well together. It’s not always successful, but the freedom of experimentation opens up whole new possibilities with sometimes surprisingly wonderful results.
This was a common element in last year’s interviews. Many of the authors stated that the freedom of choosing their own schedule when it came to publishing was what led them to choose self-publishing.
I can work on my own schedule. It might take me two months to write the first draft of a book, but then take several years to get the story right. That’s my goal. Tell the story the best way possible. It might take me a bit to figure out the right angle to tell the story from, and because I don’t have an agent or a publisher demanding the words, I can take as long as I need to get the story out and get it right. This is important.
An open schedule allows me to work with my trusted writing groups to work out plot holes and character arcs. It gives me the freedom to pursue one story over another when I encounter problems that might take time to work out.
This relates to schedule to some extent. It can take years of querying to find an agent and sell your manuscript to a publisher. In that time, the market for your genre may have disappeared. Indie authors can release a book when it’s ready. They don’t have to wait. If the market is saturated with a certain type of story, they can hold onto a manuscript and release it when they see the flood has subsided.
It all boils down to control.
The best part of being an indie author is meeting and getting to know other indie authors. We’re a diverse bunch with loads of reasons for choosing the self-publishing route. I’m excited to share with you some of the other amazing authors involved with this year’s #spfbo competition.
For more information about #spfbo visit Mark Lawrence’s blog: http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/2018/06/spfbo-2018-phase-1.html