Once upon a time, I fancied myself as a bit of a writer. I was an imaginative kid, and I loved to tell stories. Reading was a total escape for me, so writing seemed to be a natural extension of that. My teachers always thought I would be a writer, as well. Hell, I had a pen name in the fourth grade! My teacher even let me use it on all my tests and assignments because she didn’t want to stifle my creativity. She encouraged and believed in me. (Thanks for that, Mrs. Christman!!!)
As I got a little older, I even wrote something vaguely resembling a book. Then came my dramatic phase, and somewhere, deep in the recesses of my basement, there is a book of poetry and oh-so-esoteric short stories that I wrote. When it came time for college, I majored in Creative Writing and Journalism (I was a mother by the time I got to college, I wanted to actually be able to get a job!). After my first semester at college, I had what some would call a Moment of Clarity. My shit was awful. No, it really was. Completely unreadable dreck. And that, my friends, was the end of my illustrious writing career.
So why am I telling you all about me when I’m supposed to be talking about Indie Authors? Don’t worry, I’m getting there! Back when I was in school, I had never heard of Independent Authors, or anything of that sort. If you had asked me about self-publishing, I would have directed you to the hackey-sack playing burnout who handed out Xeroxed copies of his “manifesto” on a corner of South Street in Philly. (He smelled like bong water and desperation)
About two years ago, I heard about people self-publishing on Amazon. Even then, I didn’t think that real authors with real stories to tell did that. I assumed the self-pubbers were the fringe weirdos, writing books on how to properly diaper an adult baby, or how to build a bomb shelter out of a refrigerator box.
Then came my introduction to Facebook book clubs, where I was FLOODED with recommendations for indie books. REAL books, with REAL stories, and I fell in love. Both with the stories, and with the authors that gave them to us. Soon, everyone was reading Indie, Indie authors started hitting best seller lists, and I was HOOKED.
So what is it about Indie Authors? First of all, these people are BRAVE. When you’re publishing a book through traditional means, that means someone “in the know” has said, “Yeah, people will like this book. People will buy this book. Your words will be read by the masses”. They put their time and marketing dollars behind your book. You can walk into a bookstore and see your name on the shelves. It’s not a guarantee of success, but at least you’ve got “the machine” behind you and your work.
When you’re self-publishing, you’re on your own. You’ve taken your blood, sweat, and tears, put it down on paper, and sent it out into the ether, hoping somebody will read it. You are responsible for your own editing, formatting, marketing; everything is in your lap. You don’t have a big publisher to help with these tasks, or to point you in the right direction.
If I had kept writing, and eventually tried to publish something on my own, I don’t think there would be enough Xanax on this or any other planet to get me through the anxiety of putting my work out there for other people to consume. Seriously, I’m getting twitchy just thinking about it.
One of my favorite things about Indie Authors is their connection to their readers. I love how interactive the community is, and how receptive the authors are to the people who have read their work. Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads are amazing outlets to
obsess over actually have a conversation with the people who bring us our favorite stories. I’ve talked to many, many authors over the past year or so, and even feel privileged to call some of them friends.
Just about every author I’ve spoken to truly appreciates their readers engaging with them online, and enjoys the interaction with their readers. (Of course, this isn’t to say that big-name authors don’t, but that sense of community just isn’t there with them. Ever try getting a response from Dan Brown?)
Thank you, you Indie badasses, for being courageous enough to bring us your stories, not knowing if they’d ever see the light of a Kindle. Thank you for including us readers in your world, and making us feel like an important part of your process. Now get back to work, those stories ain’t gonna write themselves!