Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Happy First Indie Author's Day!

Saturday, October 8th is the first Indie Author's Day.  Many of my colleagues are considering it a milestone, a recognition of what we bring to literature – new blood, a willingness to experiment (not always successfully), and a whole lot of words.  For me, I’m not sure what IA Day is.  Online, it’s only described as a chance for a “Q&A with writers, agents and other industry leaders.”  Maybe they’re going to try to explain to us the error of our ways, suggest we all find a traditional publisher, and until then, sew a red “I” on all our clothes until we do…but I’m probably wrong.

In any case, I wanted to take the day as an opportunity to mention some of my co-wanderers in the still emerging, wonderful world of indie publishing.  When I started this journey, I thought I knew what it meant to be an indie author.  Come up with an idea, sit at your laptop pounding the keys for several months, format your manuscript, and drop it online with your favorite eBook publisher.  Voila, you’re an indie author!  But when I did so, and saw my rank on Amazon – number 1,900,000+ in book sales – I was faced with a question much similar to that of the proverbial tree falling in the woods.  If you write a book and no one buys it, are you really an author?

I thought about answering this question in the affirmative and start pounding on book 2…but then, if nothing else, I decided I’d be missing out on part of my initiation into authorship.  After all, what could be better to hone your craft that the sting of book reviews and publishers’ rejection letters.  And so, my journey beyond the keyboard began.

As an experienced consumer and pretty much a ‘numbers guy,’ I knew the value of reviews and ratings.  And so, one of my first challenges was figuring out just how you generate them for your latest masterpiece or miserable failure.  Enter Goodreads (www.goodreads.com), which provides the new keyboard pounder lots of options.  It was in the process of deciding which of those options to use that I made one of my first, online indie author acquaintances, Emma Jaye (www.goodreads.com/author/show/7083115.Emma_Jaye).  Emma runs the Goodreads Review Group, the largest of its kind on Goodreads.  And while Emma has a fascinating background (check out her author’s profile), what sold me on her group was a comment in the Ask the Author section that remains one of her most popular responses even today.  Evidently, someone had friended her, and then turned around and asked her to review his book.  Her response?  ‘No, and I don’t appreciate the request…’  When I’m about to embark on a process that by definition involves multiple people, different personalities, and vulnerable egos, there’s nothing better than someone who knows their business and tells it like it is.  And she does.  Emma seems to be online all the time, running her group and dispensing advice and feedback to naïve writers like me.  And she has even found time to pen 20 books with quite enviable ratings.  Thanks Emma, for all you do.

It was in one of Emma Jaye’s review groups that I met the second indie author I’d like to mention, Laurel Heidtman (www.goodreads.com/author/show/8281100.Laurel_Heidtman).  One of my first memories of Laurel is…well, confusion.  That’s because she also writes under the name, Lolli Powell.  OK, I’m not such a rank amateur that I don’t know what a pen name is, but still, when you’re expecting a review from someone named Lolli and you start getting messages from Laurel…you get the picture.  But when the comments started coming back, my confusion disappeared.  Not only did Laurel/Lolli write a thoughtful review, but she also provided detailed feedback via Goodreads messages on some of my grammatical faux pas (hey, Laurel, is faux pas plural?).  You see, Laurel is a great source on grammar questions, and while I’ve offered to return the favor by providing some of my statistical expertise for one of her books…well, I guess she hasn’t found the right story yet.  Laurel also amazes me with her gung ho marketing approach.  I pretty much despise marketing my books – time wasted when I could be having fun writing pounding the keyboard.  But Laurel is always sending me links to marketing opportunities she’s found, information on the latest conference she’s attending, or offering to “blast” info on my latest promotions.  Maybe someday, I’ll start enjoying this marketing thing…but don’t hold your breath.

Last, but certainly not least, is Lincoln Cole (www.goodreads.com/author/show/7796821.Lincoln_Cole).  Of the three, I have known Lincoln the shortest length of time by far; I met him only about 3 months ago when I ran across the opportunity to review one of his latest books, Raven’s Peak.  I say, ‘one of his books’ because with Lincoln, you turn away for a moment, and he’ll be releasing another novel.  In fact, when I sent him a draft of this post on September 21, he said the second book in this series, Raven’s Fall, was already on Amazon.  I’m sure he’ll be rolling in the 5-star ratings on it too.  And what’s more surprising to me – writing’s a ‘spare time’ activity for him.  Go figure.  But even with writing and work demands, Lincoln’s always quick with a word of advice or a link to helpful information.  Case in point – when I was planning this post, I wanted to contact each of these authors, make sure they were OK with the idea, would not take offense at my off-beat sense of humor…or at least wouldn’t sue me.  By the time I finished sending all three messages, I already had a response from Lincoln thanking me!

Well, it’s not much of a tribute to Indie Author Day, but it’s mine.  It’s my way of saying thanks to a group that says, ‘we’re all in this together’ and means it!

Happy Writing…and Happy Indie Author Day,

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