Monday, April 14, 2014

In Praise of Indies and Expanding Our Reading Horizons by Mary Smith

I found this in my email box and decided to share.

From Novel Points Of View.

A writing friend and I were talking – about books and writing – when she suddenly said: “The stigma attached to people self-publishing seems to have disappeared all of a sudden.”

And she is right.

In fact we had both recently attended the launch of an eBook in the local library. The author, Vivien Jones, wasn’t quite sure what to expect without having any physical books to sign and sell. We weren’t sure what to expect either. Vivien read some compelling extracts from Malta Child and then the library’s IT people handed out tablets to the audience and explained how eBooks can now be borrowed from the library. It was a fascinating evening.

Yet, it’s not so very long ago since people were really sniffy about self-published authors – and publishing an eNovel was quite beyond the pale. It meant their work wasn’t good enough to be taken on by a ‘proper’ publisher. Plus, there was a lot of criticism – unfortunately, often well-founded – of work not being properly edited, shockingly bad grammar and terrible formatting.

There has been a huge sea-change. I don’t believe it is only because some big names who were previously published by the big traditional publishers decided to go indie, or that some indie writers were so successful they were suddenly sought after by the very same publishers who had rejected them. I think a growing number of readers are looking out for the kind of books they want to read – not the books the big trad publishers insist they should be reading. Also an increasing number of good writers are writing books they want to write as opposed to writing books they hoped the big publishers would want.

It is about expanding horizons – for both writers and readers. I was recently invited to join eNovels Authors At Work, which was set up by novelist Jackie Weger. The idea behind it is very simple: Indie authors paying it forward. In other words we all help each other to promote our books.
Writers need each other. Indie authors have to learn how to promote their work. Actually, more and more authors, even those published by ‘proper’ publishers, are having to learn the same lessons. Indies have the advantage – we support each other, offer advice, pass on tips on everything from virtual book launches to innovative ways to make your books stand out from the millions of titles on Amazon.

Jackie Weger has become my guru and I sit at her feet (virtually) soaking up all she can teach me. Linda Lee Williams, another eNovel Authors at work writer has also passed on some great advice and interviewed me on her blog. I was invited to take part in a blog hop. Being terribly green about most aspects of this kind of thing I fumbled my way through it – and it gained me some sales on and an amazing number of Twitter followers.

And as for those expanding horizons - my tbr pile has increased dramatically since I became a member of eNovel Authors at Work. Each member has a page on the website (set up and managed by the amazing Carolyn Steele) and while browsing to see what other folk are writing I was amazed by the variety of genres out there: historical fiction, sweet romance, romantic comedy, novels which focus on mental health issues, vampire novels ( I’ve never read a vampire novel – then found myself reading the blurb Linda Lee Williams’ Old Town Nights I saw a mention of hybrid vampires (who knew) and the story sounded so fascinating I had to add it to my tbr list. Jackie Weger’s The House on Persimmon Road is a romance which has a ghost called Lottie who cooks and cleans – and I want a Lottie in my house! Jackie wrote for Harlequin for years before going Indie.

The authors in eNovel Authors at Work are amazing writers. They are not second-class citizens because they are Indie authors. They are the writers who are sweeping away the stigma attached to self-publishing – and I’m proud to be one of them.