The closer I get to publishing my first book in the Elemental Mysteries series, A Hidden Fire, the more publishing and promotion comes to the forefront. Yes, I’m a writer, but because I’ve decided to do this my way, I’m also the publisher and promoter of my work. I’ll be honest, the publication and promotion part of this business is not thrilling but, like everything else in life, I’m trying to see it as an opportunity to learn new skills and enjoy a new challenge.
There has been some debate in the blogosphere this week about price points and promotion. (See this link to Dean Wesley Smith’s website for a really good comment thread.) To be totally honest, I feel poorly qualified to chime in much on this debate because I haven’t actually published and sold anything yet.
But it did get me thinking. Besides the monetary value we put on our work, there are many ways indie writers may be “selling themselves short.”
I’ve talked about this in the past, but the creative world grants a level of respect and credibility to independent artists, musicians, and filmmakers that indie writers have yet to tap into. Why haven’t we? Just because a New York publishing house chooses to publish a book doesn’t mean it has any intrinsic artistic value; it means they think it will make money. There’s nothing wrong with this—it is, after all, the publishing business—but lets not let the approval of major publishing houses be the measure we use on ourselves.
Let the world know there are many reasons writers decide to publish independently, and not all of them have to do with mainstream publishing house rejection. Maybe you’re writing in a genre that traditional publishing decided was “played out” (western authors, I’m looking at you.) Maybe you’re a short story writer that likes the flexible pricing inherent in electronic publishing. Maybe you have written a book that was rejected by New York as being “good, but not marketable.”
None of these things have to do with the quality of your work!
I’m sure when the indie boom started in filmmaking, the major studios bemoaned the flood of sub par movies that would be made. Anyone with a camera and a computer could make a movie, so how could anything quality come of that? Sound familiar? Now, we don’t think any less of independent films. In fact, they are often where we turn for quality and creativity.
Once upon a time, a musician was limited if they wanted to produce an album. Now, thousands of musicians sell their albums, songs, and videos online and lots of them are breaking out and making good money without any push from one of the major music studios. Sound familiar?
In my opinion, independent publishing is no different. The only difference is how we see ourselves and how we market ourselves. I don’t think there was any organized movement within independent music or film to bring legitimacy to what the artists were doing. They just created great work and people started to take note. We can do the same thing as independent writers.
Don’t sell yourself short.
Writers, in what ways do you sell yourself short when you market your books? Do you find yourself hesitating to call yourself a “real writer” or announce the publication of a new book to friends and family? Readers, do you have a different impression of independent film or music versus independent books? Why?
Thanks for reading,