As a human being, I have several shortcomings. I’m not a very good listener. I hate taking other people’s advice. I’m stubborn. I hold grudges. I have a hard time taking anything seriously. And that’s just to name a few. If there’s one character trait I take pride in, however, it’s that I am very protective of the people that I love.
I’m not going to name names, but yesterday, one of my indie writer friends experienced cruelty concerning her books for the first time. Now, we’ve all had naysayers and bad reviews and the snobbish “Oh… You didn’t want a REAL publisher?” comments. But when it’s directed at me, I can handle it. Yeah, it hurts. Yes, I’ve cried. But whatever. It’s no big deal.
When it’s one of my friends, however, I get angry. Not so much with bad reviews, because honestly, we all get them. It’s part of the whole writer thing. But personally attacking someone, not only for writing what they love and what’s in their hearts, but for doing so independently? That’s not okay with me. This person accused my friend of forcing people to buy her books, attacked the content without even having read it, and then went on to belittle those of us who publish independently, all the while singing her own praises in the tech writing industry. And hey, I think that’s a great career. We need technical writers and they do excellent work. But we also need independent authors.
I’ll never understand why independent movie makers and independent songwriters are seen as “cool and edgy and dedicated and so, so, so talented” (which they are) while independent writers continue to fight the stigma of “lousy writers who can’t get signed to a real agent or publisher and are so desperate to get their book out that they do it all by themselves.” Isn’t that a little… I don’t know… stupid? True, not every independently published book is a masterpiece, but neither are several traditionally published books (I won’t name any here, but you probably know which ones I’m thinking about).
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The independent authors I know do not publish out of vanity. We don’t do what we do to get rich or famous. If that’s all we wanted, trust me, we wouldn’t be writing books. Independent authors write because it’s what we love. We love telling stories. We publish because we feel like those stories deserve to be shared. Publishing a book by yourself is a LOT of work. Don’t ever think for one minute that what independent authors do is easy. It’s not. But we commit to that work because we truly believe we have something worth sharing. Trust me, we wouldn’t go through all the trouble otherwise. It’s not an act of selfishness or pity or desperation. It’s simply an act of love.
That’s why I have so much respect for my fellow independent authors. Although this is an incredibly supportive community, we’re the ones who take on these tasks and set out to publish on our own. We don’t have the advantage of multimillion dollar companies or first rate marketing teams. We have ourselves and the people we love supporting us. And you know what? I’d take that over a fancy corporation any day.