Smitty told me the other night: the world is 3% sociopaths who run roughshod over the rest of us – everyone else just wants to be heard. This might not be an exact quote. Anyway, the thought speaks to me in general but it rings even more strongly in my writing life.
An independent author has to be writer, publisher, publicist, art director, proofreader, auditor, you name it. Sometimes, you can (or had better) find help with some of these tasks but in the end, the responsibility is yours.
And when the book is published, you don’t have the advertising and promotion departments a publisher would be able to bring to bear. Of course, those departments barely get involved with most author’s books anyway (and sometimes, you wish they wouldn’t) but at least with traditional publishing, it’s not all on your shoulders .
The counterbalance, the advantage an indie can bring to bear, is your own enthusiasm for your own work and, more importantly, the power of the fan. When you approach a reader who likes what you do, not as some publishing monolith but as another human voice that longs to be heard, it’s a whole different connection.
People have been very kind to me in the thirteen months since ‘Mindbenders’ was published. They tell their friends, some buy ebook and then paperback copies, some have given them as gifts, some have written reviews and turned me on to websites that would promote the book (for free!). It’s the power of the spontaneous need to help people we relate to. When readers understand they are your publicist, your ally and your army, there’s a pleasure that’s greater than just recommending a book you see advertised on TV every five minutes.
And this new relationship with readers and reviewers has also forced me into a kind of growth I never anticipated when I got into indie publishing: the freedom and the craziness of letting go. When you have a publicity budget and a coordinated campaign, you tell yourself you’re going to make things happen. You’re working with people with a professional need to take credit for your success – their future careers depend on it.
In my indie publishing world, I never know what’s coming. I never know which road leads to the swamp and which to the mountaintop. I don’t know if there is a road to the mountaintop. I have to keep making decisions and trying new things without knowing the consequences and while realizing that the payoff might take a while. Not-so-strangely, that experience is working its way into the subtext of my next book, ‘Mindbenders: The Big Dream.’
As George Harrison pointed out, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road’ll take you there. I’m on the road. I’ll go where it takes me. I’m learning that the road itself is part of the journey. And so, of course, is the company. Thank you for being part of it.