So I’ve been living with the idea of becoming an Indie Author for a while now, and I find that I like it. For me, it feels like an authentic choice. I don’t think it is any less, or any more, of an adventure than attempting to acquire a publisher through the conventional route, but it is a better adventure from my perspective because I get to hoist the sails and point them in the right direction to catch the wind.
Once I was deep into writing my first novel, people would ask me what I planned to do with it. The idea of getting published honestly didn’t occur to me when I first started writing it. Although I’d been writing academic-style and non-fiction works for the majority of my life, I had never tried writing fiction. I had no idea whether I’d be any good at it, or even if I’d enjoy doing it.
Now a couple of years down the road, and I feel as though I’ve stumbled over my ‘life’s work’, as they say. No day is complete for me without putting pen to paper, and dipping into the various stories I’m currently engaged in – just to see what will happen. If I begin the day with writing, the rest of it flows smoothly – or perhaps more accurately, I flow smoothly through whatever life throws at me. On top of this, there has been the delightful encouragement of friends and colleagues who’ve read, or listened to, what I write, and tell me that it’s good.
Hence, considering the possibility of publishing has gradually become a firm decision to do so. That was when I discovered the disappointing reality that is the publishing industry.
I was geared up for rejections. That was not the problem. I’ve faced enough rejections in my time to know how to deal with that, and not take anything personally. In my head, I believed that someone, somewhere, wanted to publish my book. My task was just to keep going until I found them.
What I hadn’t banked on was the fact that nowadays, authors get rejected before they even get as far as sending a manuscript to a publisher.. One has to be accepted by an agent in the modern publishing world, who then represents you to the publisher. And agents, according to one article I read, receive an average of three thousand submissions a year. That’s approximately ten to read every day! And when this particular article went on to suggest that what agents need in the current set-up is an agent of their own – to vet the items being sent to them before the agent her/himself ever gets to view them – well, I quickly realised I was about to join a losing game.
At that point, I began to consider some of the Indie Publishers I’d encountered on my internet travels. Like Magic Oxygen Publishing – who run an annual short story competition and plant a tree on a plot in Bore, Kenya for every entry received, as well as funding the building of a new classroom at the school alongside their Word Forest. And Britain’s Next Bestseller with their unique blend of supportive publishing – kind of a cross between self- and conventional publishing with a dollop of crowd-funding thrown in. It looked a whole lot more fun.
And when I stopped to consider what I warmed to with these smaller, innovative options, it was largely the fact that I would be more involved in the process of production. That I would not be at the mercy of some faceless corporation, two or three steps away from direct communication, who really had only one interest in acquiring any new work – making a profit.
I began to think if there’s profit to be made, maybe some of it should come my way. This, you have to understand, was an entirely new thought for me. I’m not very materially-minded. So when someone introduced me to the concept of uploading to Kindle, followed up by the idea of using CreateSpace, topped off with the title of Indie Author … well, that felt right up my street.
What a wonderful world that allows me to be the person I’m meant to be, to write the stories that come into my head and share them easily with people who’d like to read them, without all the hassle that used to involve. From where I’m sitting, that feels like a good adventure.