This is my big-push month on publicity for Dust to Blood, so I’ve joined the Gravetells Indie-pendence week blog hop event, which means you get a chance at a free copy of my book. (Check out the Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of this post for ways to earn entries to the drawing.)
I consider myself an Indie, even though I’m published through Katarr Kanticles Press, because I chose a small press that started out as a boutique option for a limited circle of writer friends. The owner self-publishes under this imprint, so authors’ needs are embedded in the DNA of the group. The writers who publish there are also amazingly supportive, and more than willing to show a newbie the ropes on everything from selecting a price point to advice on marketing (mostly, less marketing, more writing!).
They’ve also structured their publishing agreement pretty much as close to self-publishing as I’ve seen, for still offering a group venue for promotion and support.
So I was the one who chose the elements of my cover art and had final say on what it looked like; I was the one who came up the the title; I was the one who found my editor; and I am the one responsible for the delay in getting the print-formatted version finalized.
I think that sense of responsibility is part of what makes an indie. We’re willing to look at the details from the creative end all the way through to the number-crunching of what makes sense as an ad budget and time spent on marketing efforts. I’ve read some compelling arguments that indie authors are like local, small businesses, where the entrepreneur is choosing the building blocks of what distinguishes their brand–and building the local economy through making choices that make continuing a viable path. It’s certainly not for everyone, but it appeals to me.
The thing I like best about the choice to go indie is that it takes the pressure off to do anything but what’s directly related to writing and producing the best book I can. I’m not worried about hearing whether an agent has the time for me or my work, nor whether my work fits the current trends a particular publishing house is interested in supporting. I do run my ideas by my publisher, but so far haven’t gotten anything other than a “go for it” kind of response… which does a lot for my creativity and willingness to keep writing.
I know there has been a certain kind of stigma attached to self-publishing, but I think even that is fading as authors find editorial and production services geared to the indie market. (OK, yes, I have a dog in that race, too, since I offer my editorial services to other indie authors.) Ultimately, I don’t have any sense that readers build up any kind of loyalty to a given publishing house; they’re looking for authors they enjoy and will follow where the author leads when they’ve been hooked by a good story. I would define a good story as one that has been thoroughly vetted through a multi-phase editorial process to iron out flow and plot points on the macro level, as well as grammar and spelling issues on the micro. The author’s responsibility, then, rests in the same kind of self-improvement efforts that are generally recognized and rewarded in any professional career development: education, mentoring, and other help that makes each effort better than the last.