The Best of Being Indie
By Michelle Lynn, Staff Reviewer and Indie Author
I’m not going to lie, being an indie author can be disheartening, stressful. Much of the time, we don’t believe we’re good enough. So much hangs on the opinions of others. Our sales might struggle and it can take years to truly get off the ground – if it ever happens at all.
We’ve chosen to do something that scares us. We put ourselves out there, our hearts on the line. The books we write are a part of us and it hurts when they aren’t appreciated as much as we’d hoped. There are a lot of hard parts to this business we call show – okay, maybe a bit different than show business, but I just wanted to say that. Speaking for myself, I want to quit at least once a week. I’d save a lot of time and money if I did.
But, I don’t. I can’t. I’m too far gone. The world of an Indie writer isn’t all darkness and gloom, it’s actually pretty great a lot of the time. Soul crushing, but still great. I like to think I’m a positive person, so here are my favorite reasons for living with the pain of indie publishing. Now, I’ve never been a non-indie so I don’t know what these things are like on that side. I’m not comparing, only sharing my experiences.
The community – You expected me to say control, didn’t you? That’s what everyone says is the best thing about being indie. You control your work. For me, the people are the best part. Indie writers stand together through thick and thin. On every social media platform, you will find them forming small groups to get to know one another and help promote each other’s work. They understand that the best thing for all indies is for indie publishing to succeed.
Writer’s spend a lot of time alone with only their characters for company. Not a lot of people truly understand, but other writers do. I call them my internet friends, but I consider them good friends even though we’ve never met. I talk to many of them every single day. We give advice, beta read books, and talk about everything. You won’t find a better group of people. They’ll be your cheerleaders, your confidants, and yes – your critics.
Schedule – there are no deadlines except for the ones you set yourself. You decide how many books you want to write in a year. I usually go for a minimum of three and then more depending on how life works out. There’s no stress to be productive. I can mold my writing time around everything else I have going on. I can take two days a week to watch my two-year-old niece or spend weekends with my family. When all is said and done, I won’t regret the time I didn’t spend writing, but I’ll be wishing for the days my niece was so young. Writing is my job, but it doesn’t have to be my life. I love it immensely, but there are things I love more and setting my own schedule allows me to do it all without the added pressure.
Topics – as an indie, I can’t write about anything I want to. In the YA contemporary genre, sometimes you must deal with hard topics. My newest book deals with something no one wants to talk about until it’s on the news. I have to handle it with care, but I have to freedom to do it my way, a way I think will resonate with readers.
Price – “The indies have devalued literature”. We hear it all the time as if it’s the worst thing in the world. Indies have had to try everything to find a foothold in the world of price collusion and other such practices. Here’s the real deal, e-books should NOT be even close to paperbacks or hardcovers in price. I’m sorry, but they shouldn’t. The real issue isn’t that indies are selling books too cheaply, it’s that big publishing houses are overcharging. Pew Research Center has found that more Americans are buying books than ever before. Millennials are out-reading the older generation and they are buying books rather than visiting libraries. Being able to set your own price and to experiment with different prices is one of the biggest advantages to being indie. You want to set it free for a promotion? Go ahead.
As indies, we start out operating with a bit of a handicap. We have a bigger hill to climb that someone with a big publishing machine behind them. But, why then do people go indie? The prevailing thinking is that most indies are people who could never find an agent or were turned down for publishing contracts. Ten years ago, that may have been true. Now, authors are going indie without first trying traditional. There have to be reasons for that, right? See above <;