My Interview on Independent Writing and Publishing

I was recently interviewed by Dava Stewart of SmilingTreeWriting.com about independent writing and publishing. I'd like to share a portion of that with you below. If you'd like to read more, please check out the full interview.

Dava Stewart: Recently, I heard a well known writer talking about the often repeated phrase “there are no gatekeepers anymore.” He suggested that every reviewer on Goodreads or Amazon is a gatekeeper. What do you think? Has self publishing made it easier to be heard, or is it more difficult than ever? Or, is it just a different set of obstacles now?

Jennifer Mattern: This is a tough question, and it’s one I have mixed feelings about. Look. There’s a lot of crap out there right now. And that has the potential to hurt independent authors because some readers have a bias against them after one or more bad experiences. Then again, even major publishers release garbage on more than an occasional basis. That’s nothing new in publishing.

I think what the current environment does is provide a unique opportunity for independent authors and small presses to blur the lines — ignoring the gate and jumping the fence, if you will. And while I wouldn’t call reviewers on Goodreads and Amazon “gatekeepers,” if you screw around once you join the party, they sure have the ability to kick your ass out.

We’re slowly moving in a direction where readers are going to pay more attention to the author and less to the publishers. If you can build a name for yourself — your author brand — you’re going to sell books. But that’s no justification for publishing anything half-assed. So sure, it’s easier for authors to be heard. But it’s also easier for them to get lost in (or contribute to) the excessive noise.

The trick will be avoiding anyone or anything that promises to make self publishing cheap or easy while learning as much as they can about book marketing and PR. Fortunately those skills can be learned and many authors these days seem too lazy to bother. That means any author willing to put in the effort has an immediate edge. And they won’t have to rely on traditional gatekeepers to open any doors for them.

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Again, you can read the full interview to find out more about my thoughts on things like my favorite indie author and the business side of independent publishing.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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4 thoughts on “My Interview on Independent Writing and Publishing”

  1. Your advice is very encouraging to me. I have not rushed to publish my first book because I wanted to build an audience and perfect the book itself. I am starting to get impatient, but what you say means (I think) that I should stick with the slow road.

    Reply
    • Hi Rachel. I can’t really tell you what road to take in independent publishing. But that said, I do feel too many authors rush in. Sure, there are some folks who will become raging successes despite that. But most don’t. And if you create a bad image for yourself as an author because you rushed and didn’t take the business and editing sides seriously enough, you put your entire publishing career at risk — at least if you want to keep writing under the same name. If you’ve put time into building an author platform under that name, you certainly don’t want that work to go to waste.

      I prefer the slow and steady route in some cases (like my first nonfiction print book) but faster options in other cases (like most of the e-books I’ve published since 2004, because they’re “information product” e-books and not meant to be the digital equivalent of print books). Those help to bring in income to support my work on the longer projects. But they’re not an option for everyone. They work best, for example, for nonfiction authors with an existing blog following or other customer base. I’m sure I’ll speed up my process as I go, especially as I’m publishing books and e-books under four different names (some are short which helps). For me it’s a matter of making sure I find the right editors, designers, illustrators, etc. early on so I have a solid go-to team later.

      If your book is something that will be equally marketable down the road a bit, there’s probably no harm in taking things slow — especially if you’re going to use that time to aggressively build your platform so you have potential buyers anxious for your work when it’s released. Just don’t let that “take it slow” mentality become an excuse to procrastinate. It’s an easy transition unfortunately.

      Reply
  2. Hi Jen. I want to be come an independent writer an actually think I have a shot with my skills. It’s the first time I’m going to try and put out a work but not really sure which route to take.

    Reply
    • Good luck Patrick! As for which route to take, no one can tell you exactly what you should do. That depends on a lot of things, from your skill set to the market your book will target. Just make sure you thoroughly research all of your options before you jump into anything.

      Reply

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