Unexpected disadvantages to being an indie author

Unexpected Disadvantages to being an indie author

Previously, I wrote about the unexpected benefits to being an author.  As an indie author, I found these disadvantages.

The stigma

Many people in the reading community believe that indie books are inferior, having poor editing and formatting. As a result, some readers automatically shun indie authors. Though this bad image is not always justified, there are enough self-published writers who are sloppy with grammar, spelling, and language rules to continue to fuel this bad rap.

This stigma that indie authors publish inferior books won’t go away until the indie community produces more books that are well-written and edited.  Each indie writer can help diminish negative perceptions by producing quality work.

Increasing competition

According to the May 2015 Author’s Earning Report, the number of titles in Amazon’s e-book best-seller list is 200,000 (80,000 more than the previous year). Overall, there are more than 12.5 million titles listed on Amazon. To break into the bestseller list, you have to write a good book, and then market the heck out of it.

High cost of self-publishing

Hiring professionals is costly. Based on a 70,000-word manuscript, according to The Real Cost of Self-Publishing a Book by Miral Sattar, you can expect to pay the following:

  • Developmental Editing: $2,250 to $18,200
  • Copyediting: $840 to $7,000
  • Cover design; $150 to $3,500
  • Formatting for print and digital conversion: $Free to $2,500 or more based on interactivity of pages
  • Getting an ISBN: $125 for one ISBN, $250 for 10 ISBNs (Some publishers like Createspace, Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Nook Press offer free ISBNs.)
  • Marketing and PR: $100 to $5000 and up.

Whether you do all the work or some of it, publishing a quality book can be expensive.

Time-consuming book promotion

Getting your book on the Amazon’s e-book best-seller list requires getting your name out to the reading community. You need to do this before the book release, during the launch, and afterward. According to How to Make Time to Promote Your Book by Dana Lynn Smith, 47 percent of the authors polled spend about 5 to 15 hours per week promoting books.

There are tools to assist getting email addresses and scheduling social media. A prudent author does not rely on automated messaging and responses. The purpose of making the contact is to engage the reader and be helpful to them. Only when you make that connection can you lead the reader to complete your Call To Actions, such as signing in for the newsletter, signing up for a course, or visiting your author’s page.

Establishing that connection takes time. It cannot be done with an automatic reply.

More than a 40-hour work week

Indie authors don’t just write books. They take on the work usually done by traditional publishers. They arrange for editing, layout, cover design, publishing, and promoting. For some, this work is daunting—way above their capabilities—and the learning curve is too high. Some indie authors do all the work themselves (often resulting in inferior quality books), while others hire professionals to do the work.

To be successful, indie authors must become “authorpreneurs,” managers of their authoring business. They learn accounting, statistical analysis, Web management, and a host of other skills, all of which take time.

Physical effects of sedentary lifestyle

Sitting at the computer all day can be dangerous to your health. At a minimum, you can gain weight.

According to John Hopkins University, physical inactivity can lead to cardiovascular disease and other conditions. It can also lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.

In addition to all the other demands on indie authors, they need to schedule time for physical exercise,  at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a moderate level OR 1 hour and 15 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a vigorous level.

No one to blame

As an indie author, you are responsible for your success (or failure). You can’t blame the publisher or editor. There is only you, the author, the one with the by-line. All you can do is your best—ethically.

“No one will ever blame you for trying to get it right.”
Lorii Myers, Make It Happen, A Healthy, Competitive Approach to Achieving Personal Success

If at first you don’t get it right, try again. With hard work and a little bit of luck, you will find the success you are looking for.

Did you find different disadvantages to being an indie author? Tell us about them in a comment.

About The Author

Jane V. Blanchard

Adventurer and Author, I was born in Hartford Connecticut and now live in Sarasota, Florida.