MAINSTREAM OR INDIE – which way would you go?

posted in: Writing | 6


First let me apologise for the title because it assumes that when it comes to publishing, there is a choice to be had – which there is, but maybe not the obvious one.

A true choice would exist for a writer who has the option of a mainstream publishing contract, but who is also debating the possibility of going independent.

Another choice, the one that applies to me, is whether to continue hammering at mainstream publishers’ doors, or to go it alone.

The thing is, I don’t just get bounced back when I submit to publishers and agents. I get comments like ‘oooh, a genuine near miss for me,’ and on one occasion when I submitted to a national agent/tv competition, ‘come back to us when you’ve finished your redraft’. This means it’s all too tempting to just keep on trying and time goes by…and goes by, and goes by.

Tick tock, tick tock


With this in mind, I attended Cultivator Cornwall’s event Stepping into Self-Publishing, run by Ellie Stevenson. Sadly, I had to miss part of the afternoon as it began to snow and, well, I’d had a bad experience in the snow last year so I wasn’t about to take any risks. Nevertheless, there was a great deal of good material and I shall be blogging about this as I slowly start to make sense of my notes.

Until then, I have registered my interest in the Alliance of Independent Authors’ online conference and downloaded their resources pdf. I shall probably stump up the pennies and join them formally in due course but for now, I need to sort a new website specifically for published works.

I currently have two candidates for Indie publication:

THE ARROGANCE OF WOMEN – a book I feel was somewhat ahead of its time when it was published by Random House (mothers, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be, are they?!)

LOOKING FOR JONAH – family is love, not blood. A tale of a vanishing child, of love, rivalry and folk-rock

Arrogance was published some years ago, well before the age-of-Kindle (dark ages, I know) and social media. Eighteen months ago I commissioned a new cover for a digital edition of the novel but, for personal reasons, that project stalled.

Jonah is the novel that ‘came close’ to being a finalist in a national ‘write a best seller’ competition and is the recipient of those more recent ‘near miss’ comments.

This, then, is the plan: I shall continue to explore agents and publishers for Jonah but, to be honest, life’s too short so maybe once Arrogance is Indie published, I’ll do the same for Jonah.

Until the next blog, I leave you with some of the questions Ellie used to open her session:

  • Authors get around 30% royalties for trade published books – true or false?
  • There is a stigma attached to self-publication – true or false?


Let me know what you think – in the reply box below, or on twitter – and finally, I would love to know: would you go indie?

6 Responses

  1. Linda Camidge

    An interesting question or three is always a welcome diversion.

    I would say ‘yes’ to all those. Watch this space – my series of books on the history of Penzance will happen! Why, this very day I have been busying myself with the changing appeal and promotion of the ‘Volunteer’ batallions between 1880 and 1914. And do you know, I STILL can’t spell battalion… perhaps I’ll employ and editor 🙂

    • admin

      Hi Linda – well the answer to ‘trade publishers give 30% royalties’ is a no…nearer 10%. As for the ‘stigma’ question, it’s more complicated than it was in the days of old fashioned vanity publishing. That’s why if I went down this route (and didn’t do it myself!) I’d go for a hybrid publisher like Silverwood as they do have some kind of quality control i.e. they will reject work that falls below a certain standard just as a conventional publisher wouuld. So, I’d answer this question ‘yes and no’!

      Re. your books, yes I was thinking about you during the day when she was saying that sometimes it’s more cost effective to issue a series of books rather than one chunky tome – I believe that like my 5th century novel, your Penzance project has ‘grown like topsy’? Just goes to show what a rich area we live in!

  2. Victoria Osborne-Broad

    I have to admit that age was a factor in my case. As possibly the oldest person at the Self Publishing course, I could spend a further 2-5 years trying for an agent and/or publisher (I did do it for a year) and still end up going indie. Marketing needs energy and reasonable health and I want people to be reading my books NOW! Saddest thing is, I love writing and loathe all the stuff that comes with it nowadays, but have accepted I have to get on with it.
    Now, I’ve finished the latest proof read for book 2, time to start going through my notes for book 3 again..

    • admin

      Yes, me too Victoria – I let things draft after my mainstream days, got sidetracked by teaching, I’d very much like to get some more work out there before I’m too old and decrepit to care 🙂 At least I do quite enjoy the technical side as well, the trouble is, it eats time!

    • admin

      Thanks Ellie, more to come but probably not till later in the week! And thank you for such a useful day – I’ve read up on a lot of this stuff but somehow it ‘goes in’ better in that seminar-style environment so thank you…

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