Friday, January 21, 2011

My worries about being indie

If you feel the need to classify me, I'm an indie author. But, really, I wish you wouldn't. Don't label me anything other than author. There's no need to add adjectives.

I know I'm not the first person to say that. But I felt like it needed saying anyway. Here's why. I joined Twitter a few months ago. I'm following mostly all publishing folks and a good chunk of those are writers. I follow indie writers, traditionally published writers, and those writers who are hoping to be accepted into the traditionally published fold. People in both of the traditional camps interact. They swap messages. Say good things about each others' work. Are generally pleasant with one another. The people in the indie camp do the same things. There is a lot of plugging each others work in the indie camp. A lot. And that's fine and understandable. One of the things Twitter is good for is to promote where you are and what you're doing. (To a point, people. Remember that.) But this is also one of my concerns about being indie.

I really hope that all of the indie authors aren't just standing in a circle shouting at each other. We all visit each others blogs. We do guest posts on each others blogs. We create new blogs in the name of promoting independent authors. We all buy each others books. We download free samples. All in the name of support, and it's great. But what I want to do here, at least what I hope to do, is build a career. I know others hope the same thing. I don't have expectations that I'll become some billion-selling megastar author. I do have expectations, though, that I'll be successful at this. And when people talk about me I want them to call me an author. I don't want them to qualify it with "He's an indie author." I don't want them to say I'm a success "for an indie." I want them to consider me a success no matter what route to publication I chose.

So, is the indie clique that many of us have put ourselves in hurting our chances for that kind of success? Are we only selling books to our indie author friends? Or, are we expanding past that and finding readers who like a good book who don't know anything about indie or traditional publication.

In my head things should work like the old commercial. I find something I like and tell two friends about it. And they tell two friends. And they tell two friends. 

And in theory that's great. Word of mouth and all of that. But what if you tell me and another friend? Then we go to tell two friends, but the friends we tell are the same people. Then no one knows about this great thing -- a book, in this case. Nobody, that is, other than our little circle of friends because, chances are the two people each of those people will tell already know each other so they aren't sharing new information. We're all just standing in a circle shouting at each other.

So, I've made a concerted effort to make sure that the group of people I am following on Twitter and am friends with on Facebook aren't just indie authors. I am trying to get to know people in the traditional world. And it's worked, at least somewhat. When I do try and promote on Twitter those folks from the traditional world are helping by pointing their followers toward me.

Right now I have 203 downloads of Consider Us Even on Smashwords. I don't think I'd be near that number if a few people from the traditional wold wouldn't have helped me with promotion. They have followers who wouldn't have seen the link to my story because they aren't plugged into the indie world. And hopefully they liked the story and the excerpt to Chasing Filthy Lucre. Hopefully they'll buy Lucre when it comes out in February.

I'll come back and let you know how it works out. But I just wanted to share those thoughts. There is a lot I like about being an indie author and I'm sure I'll share those things with every one at some point. But I do have some concerns, and this is one of them.


  1. Jarrett,

    This is one of those thoughtful posts. It took me a moment to collect my thoughts regarding this post but here they are;

    I've been writing for 20 plus years. I've queried for 10 years as I wrote new books. I've spent over $10,000 in the last 10 years hiring freelance editors, flying to multiple conferences around North America (5) and gathering information through interviews and real-time work with other authors for my non-fiction book Publishing Exposed: The Sedore Report.

    In that time, I have come to an understanding with myself: I am an indie author. I'm proud of it. I love the title, the qualification. I like it because it tells whomever is listening that I am not traditional.

    Without going into the condition the industry is in and how the Big Six are disrespecting 90% of their authors or more, I will just say that I love indie because now I am making an income from selling my novels and not just from other indie writers or writers in general. I'm a stay-at-home writer and loving every minute of it.

    I took my backlist and uploaded them. That's eleven titles so far, plus three more coming including a full-length novel I wrote eight years ago (currently reworking parts) while I'm writing another two novels and three short stories. I write over 10,000 words a week.

    Read J.A. Konrath's blog and see how many people are making serious cash being indie.

    I'm indie and proud of it. But I also respect how you feel.

    And I love your writing...

    Thanks for listening,


  2. Great post Jarrett - and I hear you.

    The very same thought occurred to me the other day. Are indie writers only being read by other indie writers? How do we get the message out to the most important people; the reader?

    It's a tough one, but I have to say, I am kinda with Daryl. I like being an indie writer. I mean, come on, what does is stand for? Independent? Individual?

    I LIKE being all of those things, but most of all, I like being in charge. I can write a million books if I want and have them out there for people to read and decide whether they enjoyed them or not, not an agent or a publisher decide that it won't sell.

    I currently have 220 downloads on SWs, have made 108 sales in January alone on Amazon and am currently at #3 in the serial killer chart (the book, not the 'most notorious' ;-))

    I wouldn't be saying that with my manuscript of Sugar & Spice sat in a drawer.


  3. Thanks, guys, for the response. Sorry I left you with the impression that I don't like being an indie. I do. It's exciting. I like the possibilities and that I'm in control. I can play with pricing, and covers, and descriptions. If something doesn't sell I can try and fix it.

    I do have concerns, though, and wanted to share one.

    Thanks for reading.