I started writing this series as a way to explain my change in direction as an author. The indie movement has been a complete game changer for me. Besides the instant gratification of self-publishing and a fair shot at making an income from my stories, for the first time ever, as far as my writing career goes, I know exactly what to do. I got this. I don’t know if my efforts will yield newsworthy results, but it doesn’t matter. For the first time ever, I feel like I’m down on the field with other like-minded, like-crazed writers doing what I’m wired to do…and I’m happy.
But it took me an insanely long time to write this series, and here’s why: I am basically regurgitating and repackaging what I’ve been reading for the past several months — which is a ton of information to cram into a few articles — and I am painfully aware that it’s all been/being said over and over, and that things are changing as I write this.
Just in the duration of writing this series, Amazon opened up their French Kindle store, released their new ereader, the Kindle Fire, and signed a four-book deal with Traci Hohenstein (an indie author with only one book out so far). (Many thanks to David Gaughran and his always timely blog). Also, yesterday Amazon announced their new Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Imprint, 47North.
It’s impossible to write anything on this industry without it immediately becoming obsolete, but that’s okay. I didn’t set out to write some sort of definitive primer, just an elaborate explanation of where I’m going and why…and for the folks who are interested in joining me, the equivalent of a map drawn on a napkin. The resources out there for indie writers are tremendous, and I hope, if anything, this series has served as a helpful point-in-the-right-direction for any writer thinking about taking the plunge. (And continuing in that spirit, I’m putting together a page of resources that I’ll post soon.)
But as I’ve been writing this article series and preparing for my own imminent publication, I’ve noticed something. Maybe I’ve just been reading too much, but it seems a lot of folks involved in indie publishing are starting to couch their discussion in more cautionary tones. Perhaps a big part of it is simply because so many people who spoke so definitely on the subject are now publicly eating their words, and nobody wants their suddenly silly-sounding quote pulled up from the ether and retweeted.
Anyway, I realized that for those who have not been following epublishing headlines, a quick foray into the wilds of Google on account of my humble articles might lead folks into seemingly perilous waters, fraught with doomsayers crying over bubbles yet to burst and the self-cannabalizing race to the bottom, and even some already established indie writers intimating that if you’ve missed the first two waves of digital publishing, you better catch the Holiday 2011 wave…cuz it’s the last one.
Smell familiar? That’s right. You’ve been paying attention. That subtle reek is called fear.
Maybe it’s because things have been going so swimmingly. Though I’ve only been awake to indie digital publishing since March, I’ve enjoyed a spring and summer of seemingly daily stars-in-my-eyes headlines. My guess is that as things start to settle into business-as-usual, people get a little panicky. Where’s today’s overnight millionaire announcement? I bought a ticket, you know.
There is, of course, the long tail of indie writers who aren’t making it like they hoped. They’re disappointed, it’s understandable. But for those who haven’t yet “made it,” it’s not like this is a one-time shot. Forget the fat lady. It isn’t up to her. It ain’t over until you give up. Time to write another book.
By the way, you’re going to see this over and over again in your research of indie publishing (look at me, I’ve already signed you up and packed your lunch), so I’m just going to get it out of the way and say it: This is not a sprint, this is a marathon. If you’re in it, you’re in it for the long haul, so bring food (hence, the lunch I packed for you).
Anyhoo, maybe the doomsayers are simply afraid of sending other writers down the rabbit trail and unwittingly to their own demise, and so offer a sort of caveat, some moral disclaimer fastspeak to blame-proof themselves just in case others follow their lead and fail. PROCEED WITH CAUTION. THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES. THESE RESULTS ARE NOT TYPICAL. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.
Not me. I say, go for it. Only go for it in only the most epic way, pour-your-heart-in-it way. Don’t worry about typical results. You’re not shooting for typical results, are you? I’m not. If I’m going to fail, it’s going to be spectacular and involve skidding and sparks and an explosion or two, dammit!
The future is what you imagine it to be.
If you see a future rosy and brimming full of new readers from all over the world hungry for great stories every single day unto infinity, guess what? Your energy and enthusiasm and optimism and hopes and dreams are going to propel you through the work that must be done, and those readers will find you. This is how I imagine my future. (Hello, India, Germany, France, Spain, and China! As soon as I find good translators, you and I are going to become lovely friends…and we’re going to have a great time together.)
Fear is a big waste of time.
If you’re too busy worrying about the economy to paint your future optimistic, you’re going to act out of fear, clinging to your soul-sucking job and fretting about layoffs instead of busting your ass on your novel. Tell you what, if you get up one extra hour early and write, your whole day will be happier. People will notice. Will it save you from being laid off? Possibly. All other things being equal, would you want to keep a happy employee on board or a sour-faced employee? And I know you don’t care about keeping that crappy job, but you must…if only to spur you out of bed in the wee hours to pursue your dream. Regardless of whether you can afford to one day soon tell your boss to take this job and shove it, at least each day, before you have done anything else, you will have given over time and effort to your dream…and to me, that’s the only way to live.