It is a new world and a new game at the publishing industry. It has opened doors to independent and self-published authors who are enjoying the best time to make their works known without the demands and constraints of the traditional publishing industry model. However, what makes a successful independent or self-published author succumb to a traditional contract? It would be a good idea to differentiate between the terms indie and self-published (this assessment is my view, in general).
I view independent authors (indie) as entrepreneurs who enjoy the freedom and flexibility of maintaining their status as indies, and who have established for themselves a “modus operandi” that they love and prefer. I view self-published authors as writers who love the craft and have embraced the opportunity with the changes in the industry but whose goal is to one day, become published the traditional way. They might have received rejection notes or not, but their main goal is to obtain publication via the traditional model of publishing, and at the same time, making a name for themselves.
Despite the rules of the traditional publishing model, publishers are turning to Amazon to discover future contracts by following who sells the most/ranking. This works well for self-publishers, who have not been able to reach the system via an agent. For a successful self-publishing author this might eliminate one layer of the traditional method – finding an agent, but agents might be looking for these self-published successes as well, knowing that the sales have been proven, and most likely, will turn into profitable contracts.
Successful Indie authors are smart about all this, and although they love their freedom and flexibility, they would consider the right contract, as long as it proves to be more profitable than what they are already experiencing by their own efforts. For other indie authors, the issue is more about flexibility and the need to control the creative process, and their working style. Indies might or might not want to obtain a contract, depending on their goals.
Successful indie authors who value an entrepreneur model of publishing seem to retain more control over what they want than self-publishers whose goal is to get a contract to validate their status as authors or to make a name in the industry. It seems that it comes down to “what’s in it for me,” and how it falls under “my goals as an author.” Both sides have genuine interests, and there is no right or wrong way to do things, as long as it follows the author’s true values/goals.