The Road Less Traveled: The Self-Publishing Option for Equestrian Authors – Horse Illustrated


Photo by Thicha Satapitanon/Shutterstock

Closet equine writers, it’s time to unite and come out of the creative shadows. Independent publishing continues to revolutionize how books are created, published, and read, and a corral of equine writers are blazing new trails.

“Works of fiction or even nonfiction have been considered too niche by some of the big mainstream publishers,” says award-winning equine author Carly Kade of Phoenix, Ariz. “As a result, many equine writers have decided to publish independently.”

The Changing Landscape

In 2008, the independent publishing landscape realized a significant turning point for two reasons: First, widespread use of social media meant authors incur little or no self-promotion costs. Secondly, e-book marketplaces like Amazon, iBookStore, and Barnes and Noble now allow new and established writers to sell books worldwide. They may even have specialized publishing categories for equine writers, like Amazon’s equestrian fiction subcategory.

Writer Susan Friedland shows her horse Knight her self-published memoir, Horses Adored and Men Endured. We think he approves! Photo by Vanessa Hughes

According to Bowker, a world provider of bibliographic information, the independently published market grew by a whopping 375 percent between 2010 and 2015. Amazon continues to dominate the market with its DIY publishing platforms, CreateSpace and KDP, increasing its titles from 929,920 in 2017 to 1.4 million in 2018.

The hesitation of traditional publishers to invest in equestrian books because the readership is considered too narrow is only one part of the story. Equine writers are embracing the changes in publishing choices for critical creative and legal control. Retaining creative control of book covers, manuscript formatting, and marketing drives many to consider independently publishing their respective projects.

“People want to have control over their art,” says Heather Wallace, an independently published author in Red Bank, N.J. “They don’t want to give it away to someone, even if that person might be able to sell more copies.”

Anna Blake, a Colorado dressage trainer, clinician, horse advocate, and author of multiple books, concurs.

Heather Wallace enjoys the control afforded by self-publishing her books. Photo by Jamie Baldanza Photography/Courtesy Heather Wallace

“The big publishers have had an incredible amount of control, and authors have sat like little dogs begging for treats,” she says. “Technology and print-on-demand changed everything. Now we don’t have to destroy the rainforest and stock warehouses full of books, either.”

The Pros and Cons

The protection of assets, especially assuring full ownership of a book’s intellectual property, has spurred multiple writers to form their own publishing company to publish their titles, including Kade.

“Often when you sign with a traditional publisher, you lose your audiobook rights,” she says. “You may lose TV rights if that ever comes into the equation. Some people sign away their …….


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