Now more than ever, indie authors are delivering fresh and innovative books into the hands of eager readers. If you’re a reader, here are five reasons to take the plunge into the world of independently-published books. If you’re a writer, these topics make for great discussion on why your book is unique, important, and valuable.
Indies Take Chances
Big publishing companies operate like any big business—they’re looking for immediate returns on the safest investments involving the least expenditure of company capital possible. That’s a loaded sentence, but it boils down to: these companies want to sell as much as possible, right now. The result of this philosophy is that committees get formed to analyze sales trends, and then the company puts out titles that match those trends. Not that there’s anything against making an honest buck, but catering only to what’s selling at the moment results in what I like to call the “March of the Me-too’s.” If stories about angsty teens attending a magic academy are hot sellers, you can be sure that’s what will be on the shelves of your local bookstore. If the wind should change, and vampire romances become all the rage, you’ll see those instead, in every flavor and color.
And so we’re clear, just because a work isn’t popular doesn’t mean it’s bad or poorly written. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected by the big presses many times before it was finally taken on, but when it hit, it became an instant sensation, arguably spawning its own genre and generating demand for similar works (for instance: Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series, Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books).
This freedom allows indies to take risks, blend genres, and innovate. Maybe you’re the sort of reader who pines for a romantic comedy between an Egyptian mummy and a robot (a stab in the dark, but still…). Chances are, the more conservative big publishers would never take a chance on this, no matter how well written, but there very well could be an indie working on that right now.
Indies Are Your Neighbors
Modern technology has made it easier than ever for anyone to become a published author. This is a wonderful turn of events, because it means that every story worth sharing gets a chance. It also means that, more than ever before, people can say they’ve met an actual, bona fide published author.
Despite the explosion in the number of published authors, the novelty of being able to say one knows an author personally has not worn down. It still makes for a great discussion topic (“Did I ever tell you how I came to meet so-and-so?”); and most people who are interested in writing a book one day tend to have many questions for those who have already been there and done that.
The opportunity to personally interact with a book’s author brings a new dimension to the reading experience. It’s also useful if your aim is to make your friends and family envious by being the first among them to discover a hidden gem and later say you met its author.
Indies Are Small, Local Businesses
Building on the point that indies are your neighbors, when you buy a book from an indie author, you are investing in your community. With the myriad tasks that go into a single book’s production, sometimes an author lacks all the necessary the skill sets. At such times, an author might look to an editor, a graphic artist, or other professional for assistance in their respective spheres. Thus, when you buy an indie book, not only are you supporting the author, you are also giving work to freelancers, who are small businesses themselves.
Indies Are Approachable
Picture this: you’re standing in line to meet some big author on the release day of her latest novel. After two hours of waiting, you reach the front of the line, where an assistant asks your name so the author can dedicate your book. Granted, the same dedication goes into each, but yours will be unique because it’ll have your name in it. If you’re lucky, you might get a word or two in with said famous author as she finishes autographing your book, then asks you to step aside.
It’s different with indies. More often than not, indie authors pursue their writing careers as a second job, and that means they are their own PR department. It’s them on the other side of a Facebook post, tweet, or any other of the social media tools people use today. At in-person appearances, such as at conventions, many indies would welcome the chance to chat with the public about their lives, their writing journeys, and just about anything else.
Indies are also much more open to praise and constructive criticism through readers’ feedback. This approachability tends to foster relationships between the indie author and her readers not often seen with mainstream authors.
Indies Are Artisans
A book is a multimedia work of art. You’ve got the cover image and the interior elements paired with words that all come together to tell a story. The indie author has complete involvement in getting a single book done, but that also means that full responsibility for the job ultimately falls on the author’s shoulders. It’s a lot of work, but oftentimes it’s also a labor of love. In many cases, an indie writer’s biggest motivation to write is not fame or profit motive but simply the desire to tell a story.
When you support indie authors, you’re sharing in the process of creation—the author’s thoughts are communicated to you via his book, and these form images and sensations in your mind. It’s a really neat form of telepathy—or magic, if you will—that reading a book allows you access to the author’s thoughts, to see things as he envisioned them in his mind, and sense the emotions he intended his words to evoke. You can also rest assured that you purchased a quality book, worked on with all the love and care as a handcrafted Swiss watch.