DEAR READERS, WRITERS, and people who stumbled upon this blog because of its most popular post ever (“You Can’t Shave a Vagina”):
I am proud to be an Indie Author, and Indie Pride Day is July 1st. What happens on Indie Pride Day? Look, I made a pretty poster to tell you all about it, and there are no vaginas in sight:
A friend asked me today: what is an Indie Author? My definition of an Indie Author is either a self-published author (one who publishes directly, through Amazon and other online outlets), or an author who publishes through a small “independent” publishing house.
Indies are the folks who refuse to submit query after query for months or years to try to get a literary agent. Having an agent is a necessity if you want a book to even be considered by an editor at the big publishing houses.
Here’s a rough timeline of the way publishing used to work for most authors, when it did work, before indie publishing. It still works this way for the vast majority of authors who don’t want to be indies:
- Author writes book (3 months to 10 years).
- Author queries agents (could take years to get one, or never, no matter how good your book is, since agents only accept books that they like and that they think they can sell to publishers — whose customers are actually bookstores, not readers).
- Author gets agent (woo-hoo!) or doesn’t (boo-hoo!)
- Lucky Author spends book’s imagined first six month’s royalties on big party! (This is just a guess. It’s what I would do. I would hire a pony and a bouncy castle and Kylie Minogue to sing her old “Lucky” song, but no clowns. Sure, I have issues about never having a real birthday party as a kid. How did you guess?) Unlucky Author repeats steps 1 and 2 until the end of time.
- Agent sends out feelers to publishers on Lucky Author’s behalf (could also take years, with no guarantee of success, and involves sending out a few chapters, waiting months, sending out full manuscript, waiting more months…)
- Lucky Author gets publishing contract (which probably gives at most 25% of sales price as royalties to Author, and contains clauses that effectively turn Author into an indentured servant of the publisher).* Unlucky Author repeats steps 1-5 until the end of time.
- Lucky Author waits another year or more for book to come out, and has virtually NO SAY in what the cover looks like or even what the final title of the book will be.
- Publisher doesn’t promote it.
- Book dies death of old age and neglect.
- Agent, who got 15% of Author’s advance and then nothing, refuses to answer Author’s calls, emails, text messages, and threats written in blood on sidewalk in front of Agent’s house.
- Restraining order.
- What happens in prison stays in prison, until Lucky Author writes memoir and repeats steps 1-12. Unlucky Author dies in prison.
It’s no wonder that hundreds of thousands of authors — fabulous, good, mediocre, bad and horrible horrible horrible authors — have jumped at the chance to publish directly and let customers decide whether or not they like a book. I can’t think of another industry where entrepreneurship is so looked down upon. Say you are a fabulous (or horrible horrible horrible) cook. You are free to open up a restaurant anywhere you want, and your patrons will decide if your food is good.
Many Indies have found that books they cooked up, books that were rejected for years by agents and publishers, are being gobbled up by readers. Some of those books have become bestsellers and are even being made into feature films. Others struggle to get a foothold and to make even a few sales. Sure, Indie publishing is hard and not for the faint of heart and if you want to succeed, having a good book is not enough — you have to pull up your big girl panties and market the sucker. And you have to publish another book. And another. And market those suckers, too.
As for me, I’m still shopping for those big girl panties. I truly believe that someday I will be an Indie With Undies.
So for Indie Pride Day, I hope you Indies With Undies out there will do what it says on the poster. And as for you readers: Do you have a favorite Indie-published book? Then please take a pic of yourself holding it up, and post it with pride on social media on July 1st, with the hashtag #IndieBooksBeSeen.
Clothing is NOT optional.
As for the rest of you, I’m pretty sure you’re gone by now or have jumped directly to learning why you can’t shave a vagina. And I hope you’re proud of yourselves.
* In all seriousness, do check out this post on the subject by bestselling author Dean Wesley Smith.