I have been receiving e-mails from other authors whom either have not yet considered the indie publishing route and are currently querying agents asking what my experience has been so far or authors whom have not yet decided whether they want to look for an agent or go indie. Now, I had not even bothered looking for an agent until yesterday... Since I had decided to go indie. My first book Wicked was published in July. I think I can shed some light on deciding whether the indie publishing or traditional publishing process is the right avenue for you.
1) Why do you want to become a published author? If your main interest in publishing is for the prestige, you might want to consider traditional publishing. If you want to be able to say when people ask you what you do for a living, "I am an author, my agent has worked out a deal for my next book to be published by <insert name of one of the big six here>." Then, traditional publishing might be for you. If you just want to get your ideas out there and when asked that same question feel comfortable saying, "I'm an indie author," you might want to consider going indie.
2) Do you feel that your idea is the next big thing? If your idea is really BIG and has never been done before, you can certainly look for an agent, since "the next big thing" is what they're looking for. If the market is already flooded with books similar to yours, you might want to consider going indie.
3) Do you like having complete control over your projects? If you like to have complete control over your projects, you need to go indie, as once an agent and publisher takeover you will most likely have little to no control. If you do not care about having control over your projects, then you can consider traditional publishing.
4) How long do you want your book to be on the shelves? If you go the traditional route, you might have no control over the shelf life of your book. The publisher can pull your book off of the shelves whenever they wish. If you go indie, then you can keep your book on the literal or digital shelves as long as you want.
5) Do you understand your demographic and genre? If you are not sure what your demographic and genre are, then you might want to consider traditional publishing. If you understand your demographic and genre, you might be better off going indie. You can reach more people in your demographic and genre on your own by targeted marketing on independent book blogs, than your agent or publisher can. I know, from personal experience, when I want to find out what is going on in my demographic and genre, I look to independent book bloggers.
6) What is your time frame? If you are in no rush to get your ideas out there, then you can consider traditional publishing. If you want to get your ideas out there as fast as possible with little to no delay, indie publishing is much faster than traditional publishing.
7) Are potential earnings an issue for you? If you go the traditional publishing route, you will most likely earn 10% of the list price and your agent will get 15% of that, this does not include book advances (which are an advance based on how successful the publisher feels that your book will be). On a $10.00 book, you will earn under $1 in royalties. And most booksellers do not sell books at list price in order to be competitive. Let's say that you receive a book advance for $50,000. You will not actually receive the first $50,000 in royalties that you earn, since that is merely deducted from your advance. So, you will not actually start earning royalties until after you have broken that $50,000 mark. If you do go indie, you have the potential to earn much more than traditional publishing, anywhere from 15% - 70% royalties per sale depending on the site and you can always sell your novel on your own website and earn nearly 100% profit.
I chose to go indie based on bullet points three and five. I wanted to have complete control over my project and I wanted to be able to work with independent book bloggers. So far, my experience having gone indie, have been truly rewarding and I've been successful without an agent/publisher. My book went up to #3 in my genres... I did that all on my own.
Thank you! I hope you all have a smashing day!