Today is Indie Pride Day, and I took a while to think about what I wanted to say on the matter. What I finally settled on was the evolution of independent publishing.
I didn’t want to self publish. When I started writing seriously (twenty years ago), self publishing was a new thing. It had a stigma that followed it through the years. The idea is, like with a lot of things these days, anyone can self publish. It’s true. Anyone can publish anything and toss it out there. In my younger days, I thought self publishing immediately implied “unable to be published for real.”
That was pretty horrible of me.
It’s true. Anyone can throw up an image on social media. Anyone can publish a book through any number of self publishers or self-publishing programs. The question is: does an increase in the overall amount of art decrease the quality of good art? At the end of the day, people read my book, and they either like it, or they don’t. I know what it’s like to feel like an artist without a voice, and that’s horrible. All any artist can ask for in this world is an opportunity to be seen — to be judged.
As a journalist, I bought into the concept of the marketplace of ideas. This horrifies businessmen because an influx of supply indicates a decrease in demand. The fear is, if all these “bad writers” keep putting out “bad books,” no one will want to read.
Then something dawned on me. There are plenty of “established” authors I simply don’t enjoy reading. Just the other day, I saw my student walking around with a book. I said in my own overly blunt and direct way that I didn’t like the author. Keep in mind this author is very successful and regarded as one of the best in the business. Can I argue with millions of book sales?
So if there are traditionally published authors I don’t like, doesn’t it stand to reason that there are at least a commensurate number of self-published authors out there I enjoy? Turns out, there are. Throughout this week I’ve been giving shout outs to several self-published authors who wrote very enjoyable books. They range from not bad, to simply amazing. That’s the beauty of art.
Look at music. One group of people goes to a bar and listens to a local band and says, “I hate that this place can’t get any real bands out here.” Another group of people can go to a different bar or concert and say to themselves, “Man, I just hate that all this ‘mainstream’ sell-out crap gets all the attention.”
There’s a distinction between a published author and non-published author. No matter how bad the book might be, the published author still put in the time and effort it takes to write a book. I’ve written six. It takes a foolish amount of commitment. I know a few people who I honestly believe are more capable writers than I am, but they’re not writing. Anyone can throw a book down and say, “I can write better than this crap.”
Be my guest.
There’s a distinction between a traditionally-published author and a self-published author, but I’m starting to think that has more to do with marketing and budget than quality of product. This is more true in the higher quality of work than quantity. I still want to be traditionally published, but my reasons have more to do with marketing and publishing than it does with credibility these days. There are a lot of great books out there. My library is full of them. I have favorite authors, but the more I read, the more I realize what a blind jerk I was those twenty years ago. Lack of opportunity doesn’t indicate lack of ability. Self publishing gives everyone that opportunity.
For me, I think July 1st is going to become a day where I celebrate the fact that my book is out in the world. Not only is it out there, but most of the people who read it and leave a review, like the book. Self publishing made that possible. Caught will be out later this year. I don’t have any doubt about it. 1,200 will be out about a year to 18 months later. In time, that traditional publisher will pick me up. I expect to grow as an artist. I loved The Journals of Bob Drifter, but if Caught doesn’t demonstrate some sort of improvement in my own ability, then I’ll be sad. I want each book to be better than the last in at least some small way.
For you readers out there, I’m one of you. Every author is one of you. When I open a book, I want it to be great. This past year, I’ve met several great authors who are self published. I’m out there, and I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think I was good at it. I’m thankful to be an independent author. I’m learning. I’m improving. Wherever I am in the next ten to twenty years, I’ll be grateful to be among other great writers who were able to get their stories out to the world.
Thanks for reading