I’ve been holding out on writing this post for quite a while.
Part of me said to write it would be a mistake; I’ve still not stuck my entire foot in the water of the indie pool, only my toe. Scared, I suppose would be the reason for that, because I don’t like branding myself “indie” or “traditional”. If an agent offered to rep me I wouldn’t say no-I think a lot of indies feel the same-and yet sometimes I feel that I would hesitate before saying yes. The writing world is changing, after all, and not for the betterment of agents. Unfortunately, the problem with agents and publishers, is that they tend to back what’s safe instead of what’s good. Money makes the world go round, don’t you know.
There are advantages to both sides of the coin (traditional & indie). When I stop and think of the advantages of being traditional, it sounds very appealing. No stigma, placement in bookstores, professionals backing and believing in your work and talents, etc… And yet I can still remember the very moment I first learned about independent publishing. At a Writer’s Digest thing a few years ago, this had been. It was a magic feeling of…possibility?
I guess I’m writing this to remind myself that being an independent isn’t as bad or lowbrow as people think, particularly the writers that are vehement about going down the traditional trail.
1.) Rebel – Going indie appeals to my rebellious nature. I don’t immediately dismiss good advice or things that are “popular” just because, however, I do tend to think and consider a little longer than most. I move slower than normal, which annoys the crap out of a lot of people, and I always arrive in my own time. My mother, who was in labor with me for well over a day, will testify to that.
2.) Freedom – Not much needs to be explained here and no matter what side of the fence you’re on, you understand this. There is so much more freedom in being an indie and I’m not just talking about the choices you make for your bookcovers. Your career is yours to cultivate as you wish, like an exotic breed of rose in your own private garden. I don’t have to worry mightily about how something might look to the public. If someone says something I don’t like, I don’t necessarily have to bite my tongue (although sometimes I do, I will admit). I’m allowed to write what I want, say what I want, do what I want. There’s no publicist, agent, publisher, or anyone else there to slap my wrist over a public faux pas. I realize the flip side to this as well, of course I do, but the feeling of not only having wings but being allowed to use them is priceless.
3.) Community – There is a sense of community in the indie world that you just aren’t going to get in the Hollyweird world of traditional publishing. I imagine it’s the same for those who toil under the indie flag in the movie-making world and also the indie music world as well. We’re all in this together. I can recall not so long ago that a traditional author insulted an indie writer and the indie community put the smack down so hard that the traditional author had to issue an apology. Yeah. I kind of like that. Don’t fuck with us. Cause we fuck back.
4.) Trust – It always surprises me how authors are willing to hand over a manuscript that they’ve worked, sweated, cried, and shed blood for rather easily to an almost complete stranger with the “agent” or “publisher” title, and yet we revere our phone numbers and our weight the way KFC locks up the recipe for their tasty fried chicken. Even more perplexing when you consider how many times we’ve never received a formal rejection for a submission, which means our hard work is floating around in the universe of the Internet, for anyone to steal.
5.) No Contract – There is nothing legal binding me or the brilliance in my brain to any particular person or publishing entity for any amount of time. I know we have to click “agree” before uploading our work to Amazon but I think most people know what I mean. I can pretty much quit writing if I so choose-not that I want to-but I like the option of the ability to stop should I go Hemingway and slip a few cogs.
I’d love to hear some thoughts on this. Hope you read to the end. Thx.