Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Word Power Wednesday & the Indie Author

in·de·pend·ent

adjective
1. not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself: an independent thinker.
2. not subject to another's authority or jurisdiction; autonomous; free: an independent businessman.
3. not influenced by the thought or action of others: independent research.
4. not dependent; not depending or contingent upon something else for existence, operation, etc.
5. not relying on another or others for aid or support.

Rosie the Riveter has to be my most favorite poster from WWII. It shows a woman doing what is necessary to get the job done. Independent of the male influences for the most part. At least that's what I think when I see this. I figure if she can do it so can I.

In the beginning of 2010, I made the decision to self-publish. Good or bad, it was one of the few choices I have at this time in my life. No, that's not exactly true. While I have standard publishers and agents wanting to represent me, I chose a different path because of my current home life. That's the part that doesn't allow me to travel, do a lot of book signing and promotion tours for any of my books. I HAVE to be home. This is unlike quite a few other indie (independent) authors out there.

I had planned to self-publish for this year to see how it went. Yes, I actually had a plan. This time around it was fiction rather than nonfiction. Fiction in standard publishing has a short shelf life...about three months. I wanted more. I guess that's my major problem. It's not really greed as much as wanting more. More time, more experience, more whatever.

I look at the definition for independent and find the only definition which fits the indie author is #1. As indie authors when, what, how, and why we publish is our own decision. It doesn't really matter what others think. Of course we would all life everyone to buy our books, but in reality the market is so segmented in genres...do we really have a choice?

I write suspense. As a suspense writer you are expected to fall within certain guidelines to keep in that genre. The ticking clock, the espionage, the thrill. It has to be there. In suspense horror, you have to know what the standard is for zombies, vampires, or other creatures that go bump in the night. You can slightly bend the rules, but it may come back and bite you in the rear. There are some pretty die hard fans out there who expect certain truths for these creatures to be maintained. So the question comes to mind, how independent are we really as indie authors?

Yes, we can decide what we write and can even break the rule of one genre per author like I do. Of course writing multiple genres does mean multiple market segments to sell to. But like above, there are limitations to what we write.

Yes, we determine how we write within the guidelines. We have nobody actually standing behind us going "You HAVE to write this way." Unless you have an editor like me, who will catch you on all your little trip ups like comma splices, typos, tense, POV shifts, grammar and assorted other things. But that's different, those type things make your book better on the whole.

As indie authors, our writing schedules are ours to command, sort of. We write when we have time to sit at the computer. Like most standard published authors, we have day jobs, families and assorted other distractions like life getting in our way because we really can't afford to give any of them up. Once you self-publish, then comes the marketing you have to do to sell your books...books DO NOT sell themselves. It's the blurbs, the reviews, the cover art, the promotion you do that sells your books...so do you really have control over your writing schedule? The luxury point of self-publishing is that you don't have any deadlines except those you put on yourself. You can write, edit, and publish a book at your choosing.

That brings us to the why of independent publishing. Why would you want to wear all the hats and juggle like a crazy person to get it all done to make the sales? Why put yourself through the torture of writing for the sales of a few hundred copies sold? Is it to be rich? You're in the wrong business about 1% of all published authors can quit their day jobs. Is it a legacy thing? Something that shows "Killroy was here?" Yes, but if no one buys it will anybody know you were here? If I write it they will come? They have to find you first.

Probably the best answer I've heard is because it's me. I have to write. Not because of sales, but for the love of writing a good story. The thrill of putting words on a page that will move another person, transport them from wherever they are to some place else, to make someone think "Hey at least I'm not this poor schmuck." If it lightens the burdens of every day life. High ideals, yes, but truly isn't this what being a writer is all about?

So how independent are we as independent authors?

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

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