My participation in this event is unpaid; I was sent an offer to participate as an author who publishes with the above-mentioned entities.
Find my stuff:
My books are available in paperback via Amazon (CreateSpace), and eBook formats for Kindle (Amazon) and Nook (Barnes and Noble). iBooks is a quagmire through which I am still wading.
You can visit the official landing page for the “Powered By Indie” #PoweredByIndie event at Amazon. You can visit the Kindle Direct Publishing Facebook page to connect to the campaign and participate in indie author Q&As.
I am somewhat new to advertising, self-promotion, and social media. To make the most of my participation in the Powered By Indie event, I know I should create posts, pictures, and videos regarding my interest in, and experience as, an independently published author. I’ll try to figure out something resembling pictures and/or video later this month.
For now, to focus on “why [I] love being an indie author”. I love being an author. Since I’ve only been an indie author, I can’t speak from any life experience as to why I might “love” being an independent writer as opposed to a dependent writer. I have always wanted to be an author, have been practicing to be an author since I was very young. When I was thirteen, I tried to write my first manuscript for publication, but I’d been writing stories since 2nd or 3rd grade.
I said that I tried to create my first manuscript at 13. That failed. In fact, I’d tried sixteen times to finish a manuscript, about once per year, from 13 to 30. All of those failed as well. This led to my 0th (‘zeroth’) Apothegm: “Finish a Manuscript.” One cannot become a successful author—in any genre—unless one completes a manuscript. If you’re an aspiring author, that’s really the only advice you need.
I have many friends, also aspiring authors, who haven’t yet finished a manuscript. For seventeen years, I was one of them. We rationalized it away. “I haven’t even finished high school yet. How can I get published?” “Well, all of my writing so far has been short story. It’s so much harder to get published as a short story writer.” “I need to spend some time in the industry. It makes sense that I’m not published yet: I don’t know enough people in the industry. I need to network more!”
No you don’t. I lived all of those ir-rationalizations. Finish a damn manuscript. A novel or novella, a collection of short stories or poems, that screen- or stage-play—not a single author has become successful without finishing a draft, and then…
1st Apothegm: “You have to let someone critique it.” And this is where the indie author experience diverges from the…owned author? Catered author? Subordinate author? I like it. “Jessi: that’s a pretty early divergence that separates the two classes of author.” I agree. At this point, the subordinate author can rely upon the machinaria of the publishing world. Editors to edit your drafts and demand deadlines; publishers to advertise your work; agents to shop your writing around to other lucrative ventures.
Do I “like” being independent of those resources? No. Like many writers of my generation, I grew up idolizing the machinarum. I am the creative spark that gives life to the un-glamorous industry. Without this spark, the machine's engine cannot run.
Well that’s not true. As my wife has come to realize over the last few years: it’s easy to be creative, it’s difficult to create. How often do we creative people offer up this excuse: “If only I were independently wealthy! What marvels I could create!” But is that true? If you were actually given the opportunity to do anything you desire, would you pound out 10k words per week? I didn’t, not for a very long time. Seventeen years of long time. Last year my wife had a six-month period of time off—the dream, am I right? And how many of her long-treasured projects did she finish?
It’s not difficult to guess. I say this not to denigrate her; she has admitted to herself that she is not a self-directed person. Many creative people aren’t. It’s easy to imagine that the world of publishing would help compensate for that. “Hey, you, Authorlady! I’m pretty sure you owe me fifty pages in two days!” “We need to get your cover concepts to the graphic artists, so sit down for five minutes and doodle something!” “Have you finished your homework yet?”
Oops. That last one’s a bit Freudian, no? But if you’re the kind of person whose parental units had to constantly remind you to do your work, you’re probably having trouble becoming an author. Don’t worry: you can overcome it, using cognitive-behavioral psychology. That’s how I finally, seventeen years after I’d stated the desire, managed to finish a draft.
And overcoming that—becoming a creator—is key to being an independent author. There are people who won’t try new things—hobbies, occupations—if they don’t know how to do them. But creators are people who jump in regardless. Do you remember that episode of “American Dad” in which Stan has never tried opening a restaurant because he doesn’t know how restaurants work? He discusses it with Roger, who in a single morning learned how to be a blacksmith. Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy to sit down and learn a thing.
This is where independent authors can thrive: outside of the machanarium which we grew up worshipping. No editors demanding artificial deadlines be met, nor insisting that the public won’t understand your four-syllable words or complex punctuation. No publishers insisting that your content appeal to the 19-25 male demographic. No agents demanding you dedicate twelve weeks a year to book tours. Successful indie authors wouldn’t be able to work within the constraints of the machine, in which every cog is a specialized cog. “Sorry, I won’t be your agent because I specialize in the young adult genre.” “But you’re 55 years old. Being generous, you haven’t been a young adult for at least a decade.” The experience that such an agent can bring to YA writers is a valuable commodity, but one that can also grate against the creative spirit of someone destined to be an indie author.
So I “like” being an indie author in the same way that a self-made YouTube creator or Twitch streamer “likes” being an indie content creator. The burden is on me to write—to decide what to write, how to write it. The burden is on me to sort out my covers, find editors, plan deadlines, manage social media, and advertise and network. I am very good at some of these things, not so good at others. But I enjoy learning about them. I enjoy the challenge. Are subordinate authors not challenged? They are, in different ways. Would I enjoy the challenge of being a subordinate author? I don’t know. I’m not sure that career path will survive another generation. Just as professional actors have taken to various internet video platforms, many professional authors have cast off the shackles of the machinarum to become independent authors. Does that make being an indie author more difficult? I think not.
Will I ever be a “successful” indie author? In advertising jurisprudence, that word has no meaning. Many people have said to me that I was born to write. I disagree; I was born to teach. Writing is “merely” something that I love to do. Being an independent author has made me successful, because there are five published books that bear my name on their covers and spines. By May of 2017, that will double to ten titles.
If a writer is a person who writes, then I have succeeded at being a writer five times over, ten by mid-2017. I like being a successful indie author very much.