Sunday, December 14, 2014

Why I love being Indie. #IndieBooksBeSeen

I am not a good blogger.

 My infinitesimal readership has no doubt noticed my blog has been pretty neglected as of late. Well, part of that is due to my work schedule. As a newbie adjunct professor who has had to teach all brand new courses for the last year and a half, winter and summer breaks have really been my only opportunity to write anything, let a lone blog. But there is a second reason for the stagnation of this site. I suck at blogging. Some writers can wow us with prose, some earn Pulitzers for their stellar reporting and some can bare their souls online. Well, I may not be any of these but I'm certainly not the latter. Blogging does not come natural to me. I've tried to give helpful writer tips but then seemed disingenuous being that I am so new to the profession myself. I tried the book review thing for a while, and while that was fun, I'm not sure if passing judgment on writers in my exact same position is the right thing to. So, world, here I am at it again. But this time I'm not going to try to make this blog "about" something, but instead write about me, my thoughts and my feelings about this whole writing adventure. While I doubt there are a lot of people out there who want to read ramblings of me writing on me (I know I certainly wouldn't!), I believe that's okay.

 So here we go...

 For my first post in writing about myself (again, not my strong suit) I'm lucking out in that I have a prompt to write about. Since my last posting in August, I've joined a group, or movement if you will, called #IndieBooksBeSeen. It began as a Twitter hashtag in July to show the solidarity of indie writers everywhere and has grown by leaps and bounds over the fall to become a multifaceted group that has a ton of ideas in the works for "taking indie mainstream," as #IndieBooksBeSeen's founder, Mark Shaw (@MarktheShaw) likes to say. #IndieBooksBeSeen functions basically like a cooperative, very similar to the old farmer and electrical co-ops of the early 20th century, and the model works by these geographically separated writers pooling their talents and resources to work as a singular entity in order to work in a system designed to service large businesses at the expense of the little guy. I hope to share more news about my involvement with #IndieBooksBeSeen as I work to renew this dormant blog.

Why do I love being an Indie author? This is the prompt one of our members at #IndieBooksBeSeen has challenged us to blog about. Well, in my opinion, becoming an independent author is both the worst and best decision a writer can make, in that order. When I went down this path, and I think most independent authors can relate, I naively thought that while I probably will never sell the millions of copies necessary to break the New York Times bestseller list I could definitely sell a few hundred copies to supplement my income and maybe even eke out a living someday way down the road. Then I hit the "publish" button. Turns out there are about a million other equally ambitious authors trying to do the same thing. The net result is a lot of unstructured noise in which it is almost impossible to build a readership. This was obviously quite disheartening to my 2013 foolishly hopeful self. Somewhere in the midst of my realization that my intrepidly American proclamation of "I'll do it my damned self" was going to be a lot harder than previously thought, I began trying to figure out if I had made a mistake. In researching the book industry, I discovered, quite to my surprise, that the life of a traditionally published author was in reality not much better than being an indie author. Unless I became outlandishly successful (or knew somebody influential at a publishing firm which I do not) I would likely to get little to know support for promoting my book. Furthermore, unless you're Stephen King or J.K. Rowling with enough clout to dictate terms, authors are by and large human commodities who sign away almost all ownership of their work to the publishing company. This is the first reason I love being an indie author. My book is my book. The story is the story I want to tell, not the story an exec thinks will sell. If my book ever gets turned into audio or picked up by a large retailer, I'm involved in the process. Finally as an indie author, I, the person who actually wrote the book, make a respectful percentage of every sale as opposed to the traditional system where the author gets table scraps of 5-10% from which they need to pay their agent his/her cut. This sense of ownership over my creation is far more valuable than anything I would make in a large book contract.

 The second reason I love being indie did not exist a year ago. Before #IndieBooksBeSeen, we were all, for the most part, trying to out yell each other for readers' attention. It was a very lonely sea to be a part of. But now because of #IndieBooksBeSeen and I think a growing sense of comradery among independents, there is a vibrant and growing community. I have made like-minded acquaintances along my journey as an indie author, people I want to see succeed and who I know want the same for me. As we grow as a voice and our tweets increasingly grow into video Skype conferences and eventually face-to-face conventions, I wholeheartedly expect these relationships to grow into literary friendships. And that is one thing you just can't put a price on. If you're interested in hearing why other authors love being indie, visit:

1 comment:

  1. Your first reason for going indie is very similar to mine.