I work with indie writers on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s consulting. Sometimes it is editing. Sometimes I am just providing honest answers to my friends who want to get their stories out there. The stories could be fiction. They could be memoir-esque in some way.
Recently, I started the editing process for a friend of mine who is self-publishing his book about his journey of recovery from alcohol and drug abuse. It has an important message about self-reliance, self-education, and….the will to do it. Yes, I know that last one isn’t so popular because everyone wants a quick fix (quick fixes do not work on a permanent basis, mmmkay?).
I gave him a pre-publishing checklist through email. It was fairly lengthy, but he knew it didn’t have to all be done at once. He started self-promoting on his Facebook account. Pre-publishing build-up is important.
Yesterday, he lamented in a Facebook post about a very real problem that indie writers face. I am going to summarize what he said and this is in no way to criticize him…but some of the responses he received on his post. He essentially stated that with as many people that he’s talked to in person and as much self-promotion as he’s done through Facebook, practically no one he knows has asked him how the book is coming along.
To be fair, no one has to ask us anything. Even if you were signed by a book publisher, you’d still do most of the promotion for your book and for yourself (unless they believed you were the next Stephen King and were going to make them big money).
Yet, what this indie writer pointed out isn’t the issue. He experienced something that all indie writers go through: it feels like practically no one (save your editor – if you hired one) gives a shit about your work. I responded with “Welcome to publishing.”
There were a couple of well meaning comments from people who said they wanted to read it or they’ve read his updates and look forward to it. One comment, though, shows you the problem with society and the way it (does not) supports indies of any kind. The guy basically gave the “I’m too busy with my job, my life, and my band to be concerned with anything else.” Yet, we all know that local bands want people to….support the music scene. If you’re too busy to support others and stupid enough to come out and say it, don’t expect others to support you.
The next comment that made me wonder what is wrong with people was someone who told this indie writer that he (the writer) didn’t need anyone but himself. While that may be true in the sense of surviving in the world, it’s not true when it comes to getting the word out about a book. While the indie writer doesn’t necessarily need validation that he is doing the right thing by publishing his journey, validation is important to a writer. We are constantly stuck between wondering if we write what we want to read or should we write what needs to be said / what others need to read?
If you have indie writers on your list, engage them. Like their updates. Share their excerpts. Share their links. Spend the money on the book. This country talks a big game about supporting small business and “mom and pop” operations. That’s what an indie writer is. They are a small business. It generally costs you less to support an indie writer (I just spent $10 on an ebook on Kindle by a writer I’d never heard of, but got to know on Twitter) than you spend at Wal-Mart, on snacks somewhere, or whatever.
Look, indie writers, musicians, artists, and performers need you to support them. Your support can come in the form of buying their work or going to their shows. It can also come in the support of sharing their work and writing reviews. When you read a book, write a review. You don’t have to write it on a blog. You can write it on Amazon. You can write it on Goodreads. These people are another form of small business…and what they do changes our lives for such a small amount of money. Support them. Share their work.