Why am I an independent author?
An independent author, or an indie author as we refer to ourselves, is an author who chooses to self publish. One of my favourite self publishing podcasts, Self Publishing Formula, has a tagline that says, ‘It’s never been a better time to be a self published author’ and that is true.
There is a large and robust indie community, authors who the mainstream publishing industry are unaware of, who make a living from their writing by self publishing. Over the last few years, as the Australian publishing industry contracted and getting publishing contract became harder and harder, I began investigating self publishing and psyching myself to make the launch. And after months of research and preparation, I finally launched myself into the indie world by publishing my first book, The Cuckoo’s Song, my short story collection of previously published and prize-winning stories and have re-released my debut novel as Sabiha's Dilemma.
Being a small press
One of the things I have struggled with in making the transition to self published is transitioning also to marketing. It seems somehow excruciating to promote my own book. In my traditionally published career this was always the domain of the publicist. I knew this was a hurdle that would hold me back from truly being able to make this a success.
So I found a work-around. I was not just going to be an indie author, I was going to be a small press owner. I was not just learning about self publishing for myself, instead I was exploring the possibility of being able to either publish others or provide self publishing services, once I become a successful small press.
Once I made this decision, it seemed easier to launch into my indie career because it wasn’t just about me, it was about more than me. I’m married to an incredibly talented short story writer, Fikret Pajalic, and have always wanted to see his work published in a short story collection, so he is going to be my first ‘author.’
I attended the Small Press Network Conference and watched a talk by a library distributor who explained the importance of producing a quality product. He held up a book that was self published and pointed out all the ways that it was on par with a traditionally published book, and that the only difference was the lack of a logo on the spine. And that was the final piece of the puzzle. I created an imprint name, commissioned a logo from a graphic artist, and set about creating the foundation for my small press.
The name Pishukin came from a term of endearment that I call my daughter. The logo is a homage to her mother who loved peacocks and was created by designer Cuba DeSilva.
Being truly independent
Book publishing has costs associated wth it: from cover design, to book formatting, to purchasing of ISBNs, paying for proof copies and paying to upload files to Ingram Spark, not to mention editing and proofreading. My day job as a teacher pays my daily life expenses and my self publishing has to be funded by my other writing income: freelance writing, mentoring, delivering writing workshops like the upcoming one at Sunshine Library by the Brimbank City Council in June 2022.
I am approaching my new career by exploring the ‘independent’ aspect to its fullest by upskilling myself so that I can undertake as many of these tasks as possible for myself and purchasing software and products that will support this.
I am also using my skills as a teacher and experience in writing teaching notes for other publishers to create teaching notes for all my young adult titles to distribute to schools.
As an indie author there are a few business models to consider:
I am focussing on wide distribution and trying to set up accounts with individual publishing platforms so I can learn how to access their internal promos to sell.
Pishukin Press books are distributed by Ingram Spark and published on all major platforms: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Google Books.
Being truly independent
I am also focussed on true sustainability of my publishing imprint, so being able to provide services that other publishing platforms cannot, as well as providing the best price for my products. Currently when my books are distributed to various platforms the prices vary widely, anywhere from $22 to $30+, and then there are shipping costs.
To that end I have set up my own shop to sell books directly to readers internationally with shipping set up for USA, Australia, Canada, UK, New Zealand, Bosnia and Hercegovina. If you are in a zone outside of these regions and would like to order a paperback direct please email email@example.com with the Subject: Shipping Zones and let me know which shipping zone we need to create to cater for you.
I am also able to provide discounts to readers, currently there is a 20% discount on ebooks if you type the discount code PISHUKIN.
Being traditionally published was wonderful as it provided me with a solid foundation to develop my craft, networks and an understanding of the publishing industry. Now I am able to apply that foundation and forge my own path as an entrepreneur and creator. I have so many exciting things planned for the future. Watch this space as I learn and grow.
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Amra Pajalić is an award-winning author, an editor and teacher who draws on her Bosnian cultural heritage to write own voices stories for young people, who like her, are searching to mediate their identity and take pride in their diverse culture. She writes memoir, young adult and romance under the pen name Mae Archer.
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