In January of this year, I made the decision to go back to what I truly loved about writing. After years of learning, researching, and discovery, I stopped trying to find an agent and get that “big publishing contract.” I learned a lot in those years, and contrary to what some might think, I’ve made a logical, careful choice.
But this route is not for everyone, and definitely not for the faint of heart.
When you make the decision to become an Indie artist, and forgo the “traditional” publishing world, what you’re really doing is accepting certain injustices as an accepted fact.
For instance, when a certain very popular website has strict rules against reviewing or recommending any self published author — unless it’s a pal of theirs — does just that – garnering massive free publicity for said self publishing author – it brings to light the uphill battle we Indie artists have. When we take on the life of an Indie artist, what we’re really doing is acknowledging that we will never be respected, that we will be actively mocked and misunderstood, and that no matter how good our art is – it will never be accepted — and that we do so with this full understanding.
And that it won’t matter that often times, the Indie artist will outsell the newbie traditional author, the latter will have immediate and unquestioned respect while the former never will.
By finding going the agent/publisher route and having a paper or hardback hit the bookstore shelves, the traditional artist wins automatic respect. No matter if their work is well written, or even sells. No matter if they earn out their advance (the majority won’t) and no matter if their publisher never buys another title from them – they are crowned with the name “Writer” and can enter into any conversation at any writing forum and be hailed the conquering hero.
An Independent, self publishing author who goes it alone, spends not one dime of his/her own money and yet earns back thousands from sales, then repeats this again and again with future novels, will never earn even a portion of that same respect.
Genre sites will not discuss your work. Popular web sites that review other works will not touch yours with a ten foot pole. And yet, now and again, you’ll see them do just that for a friend with no explanation or apologies.
These are the challenges the Indie artist faces. You may be popular beyond your dreams. Your work might garner cult followings, devoted fans who devour your every novel and happily purchase copies for their friends.
But having said that, those of us who accept this decision – while we may rage against the machine of inequality and injustice – must do so carefully in public, so as to avoid the labels “Sour grapes” or “Jealousy”.
We are the monks who worship in seclusion, versus those who take the public pulpit.
You will be mocked by other writers. You’ll be scoffed at by writer advocate sites, ignored by traditional reviewers and shunned by genre web masters you’re not sleeping with at the time. Then one day you may turn around and realize you have a cult following. People are reading your work, they’re buying your novels, they’re asking when your next piece will be available and they’re spreading the word.
And when it’s all said and done, it just might be worth it.