Monday, September 17, 2012

The Indie Author

What is an Indie Author? The general public is relatively ignorant about the workings of the new publishing market - and the new writers’ model. They only care that they get a book, and that book is free of errors, is entertaining, and is worth the $0.99 that they paid. If it isn't, they rail against the author, sometimes delving into personal ranker to quell their sense of injustice or outrage.

I'm an Indie author. Perhaps you are too. I have a day job, and I write in the evenings after I get home. I also write on the weekends, on holidays, and on other days that I have off of work. On my last run of two books, over six months, I made less than thirty dollars; hardly the image of Anne Rice, or Stephen King in wealth. I have two new books to come out in October 2012. Where will that go?

 So, if you are a fellow Indie author, do you suffer the same struggles I do? I have spent some money investing in some marketing and PR. In no way have I recouped that money. If I were a business, I'd be very worried that I won't survive competing in this market, a market of thousands of other Indie authors. Yet, I still keep writing.

 One factor that defines the Indie author is a state of self-reliance that cannot be discounted as amazing. We don't have the luxury of finishing our thirtieth draft and turning it over to our agent, who then adds some polishing comments, and then turn it over to our publisher. The publisher then hands it off to their copy editor, line editor and the like, and polish the product - then spend some money to produce the copies, and market the work. They might have even set up some PR events for the author. That's only in the movies for the Indie author. We do it all. We come up with the concept, make the art, refine it, beg friends and family to help us edit it, and use free or inexpensive resources to polish the work. Then, it is up to us to put it into a book format, purchase the ISBNs, test/proof the copies, create the cover art, test the artwork, and finally put it out there for consumption. Even in this last step, we are at work to find an outlet - who should it be, a web site that sells E-pub, Kindle, or some other? In all, it is possible to spend as much as $10,000 just to see a return of $0.00 to $500.00; maybe.
Why do we do it? Why suffer so and reap so little reward?
Perhaps we're entertainment junkies? Perhaps we love to entertain, and the struggle is just par for the course. After all, I love to write. I love to tell stories that people will say, "I was in the world you created," or "I was swept up in the adventure." I was once an actor, and the thrill I got on the stage with a thousand people clapping and cheering was akin to what I feel as a writer when someone connects with my story.

Therefore, to me the Indie author is a brave sole, whose desires to write dominates his or her good senses. They will stand naked against the fire of critics or hateful customers time and time again, just so they can bask in the healing glow of those few readers who adore them. The Indie author is an industry unto themselves; a means of production that churns out a product that consumers often devour, then with careless thought toss away never to be read again. An Indie author is a person who glows with passion for storytelling, who is constantly shaping their craft, and who dreams that one day, they can write as their primary job. Lastly, the Indie author is a person who flies in the face of convention, writes in multiple genres, thinks outside the box, and defies the corporate publishing house's conventional wisdom of cookie-cutter authors.

The danger though is vast in that low quality work can be produced. There are thousands and thousands of authors out there calling themselves Indie. Anyone with an idea can write it down and put it out on Amazon. When rushed to market, or written by those without the experience to methodically rework their art, reputations falter and the name of Indie takes a hit.

Once, the publishing houses did a service by filtering out the crap, though they also filtered out much of the cream too. But, the one thing they did really well was to ensure quality in their books. Few times does one find egregious errors in their products. For me as an Indie author, I struggle to weed out all the typos, wrong words, and formatting issues. This is time I could be spending doing composition. Yet, it must be done, because my reputation hangs in the balance. Even then, my works have errors in them that slip past the watchful eye of me, family, and friends with good intentions. There seems little substitute for the layers of editing a publishing house offers. Unfortunately the cost of a professional editing staff is far beyond the means of this Indie author. So, I'll have to stick to friends, and family to aid me in my forward movement toward my goal of literary respect.

Where does that leave us? The Indie author is a mutant, a creature of mythology that defies the giants, but is fragile in nature. If I had one word to describe the amazing quality of the Indie author, I’d say dogged, for there are few better examples of the underdog who strives against impossible odds to live out a dream. And, there are few arts where the power of creation shapes complete worlds filled with the human condition.

So, let that dogged animal roam, lo his or her struggle be vast. For, in this time in history, the Indie author gives humanity a true choice. That choice is to view into the beating heart of creation where those who desire to write can, and those who crave the written worlds of creative invention consume and collide (in that big bang, stars will be born). Or, humanity will remain disillusioned by the Indie author, and shut their eyes tightly, making a dark age of stagnation their dwelling.
Lawrence BoarerPitchford

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