It’s been quiet over here on my blog lately. If you’ve missed me, I’m sorry. If you haven’t, then I really need to step up my game. 🙂
The reason I’ve been quiet and haven’t had any nuggets of wisdom to impart is because I’ve been a little lost myself lately.
Sometime between writing my sequel and now, I had an epiphany that has me rethinking my strategy as an author, and questioning my goals. When I first wanted to see The Darkness of Light published, I did what many of us do and I queried agents. I read everything I could about publishing, agents, sales, writing…basically anything that would help me mold my book into a marketable, successful piece of fiction.
But when I couldn’t find the right agent and decided to become an indie author, there was a problem forming that I wasn’t able to see until now.
The goal of most authors is to write books. Have people read those books. And make money from those books.
That was my mission when publishing THE DARKNESS OF LIGHT. I’ve said before that one mistake I made with that book was taking advice about the content, and changing it to fit a certain industry standard. I thought I was doing the right thing, since the advice was coming from someone in the traditional publishing industry. I wanted my book to stand next to any other book you might find on store shelves.
What that advice actually did was water down my novel and cut out things that were important to readers. It became clear once the reviews started coming in that readers wanted the things I was told to cut out. Interesting, isn’t it?
So once I began to write the sequel, THE EMBERS OF LIGHT, I was much more open-minded about content and less likely to cut certain things that may have been cut by a publisher. I still used beta-readers and a content editor, but we were all aware of the issues with the last book and were able to work with less restrictions. We’ll see how that pans out once Embers is released, but I already feel more confident that the story is complete.
In the last year, as I’ve learned to balance book promotion, writing, and growth as an author, I’ve begun to form opinions about publishing as a whole. A lot of the advice I see on Twitter and other social media platforms is geared towards the traditionally published novel. There are so many rules thrown around that it’s hard to keep up: No prologues, keep word count low, avoid characters with dead parents, overly strong heroines, overly weak heroines, no love triangles, no vampires, no werewolves, no cliffhangers, etc… The list really does go on, and on, and on. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with it all, and I feel bad for writers just starting out. They’ll have to learn what works for them and what doesn’t, just like I’ve had to.
THE LIGHT BULB WENT ON
I’ve had many conversations with my indie-author friends about the state of publishing and the comparison between the indie and traditional world. What I’ve realized is that if we want to be indie-authors, we need to STOP comparing ourselves with traditional publishing! I am an indie author by choice. I wanted to control my books and my own career. I’ve said it many times: I have NO regrets about choosing this path. What I do regret is confining myself within the parameters of a branch of industry I don’t belong to.
If my goal is: Write books, have people read my books, and make money from those books, then I’ve been going about things the wrong way. I’ve been killing myself trying to follow a guideline set by the traditional world. Why? Why should indie authors not write about things the traditional world deems overdone, when there are hoards of niche market readers spending buckets of money each day to buy these books? An indie-author writing within traditional guidelines is like a person writing Facebook updates in 140 characters because that’s the rules of Twitter. They’re both social media, but they’re different. The rules are different. And the market for each is different.
Take a minute and look up the vampire category on Amazon. Or look up shifters, historical romance, or anything 50 Shades of Grey-ish. Those books are selling! People are buying them like crazy. And while many publishers have decided to abandon those platforms (leaving money on the table) indie-authors are fulfilling that need and (gasp) selling books!
We all want to be respected within our industry. We would love to receive praise and accolades based on our work. I think that’s why indie-authors constantly walk a fine line between traditional rules and reckless abandon when it comes to our books. We don’t want to be the fools of the publishing world. But, for me, walking that line had become such an obsession it started to hamper by creativity. My days became more about following guidelines than letting my imagination rule.
I wrote a secret book. After talking to a friend who’s having a lot of success in one of these niche-markets, I decided to create something that those readers might like. At first I’d intended to release it under a pen name. I didn’t want anyone turning up their nose if my book failed or if it fell into the “undesirables” category. Knowing that this book would be anonymous was incredibly freeing. And I had so much fun writing it.
But as I wrote, something strange happened– I began to love the characters. I didn’t expect that. And when I read my chapters, I saw myself in that book, heard my voice, and felt connected to the story.
Yes, this is a serialized niche-market novella. Yes, it’s probably never going to win me any awards or million dollar publishing contracts. But I love it, and had more fun writing this book than any other.
I’ve abandoned my intention to release this book under my pen name and decided that I will own it as Tammy Farrell! I will own the fact that I wrote it and whether it sinks or swims will have no bearing on my future endeavors. I will always write more books. Some people will love them, and some won’t. But as an indie-author, I can release books quickly, I have control over the content, and I can decide for myself what works and what doesn’t. When this secret book is ready to be released, I promise I’ll let you all know. 😉
I have to be true to myself and STOP creating things limited by rules that don’t even apply to me. Writing is art. And art should never have any limits.
So the point of the story, friends, is that if you want to be an indie author, OWN IT! Embrace it. Bend the rules however you want and don’t let anyone’s opinion create doubt in your mind.
You will find success by forging your own path, and learning from experience. If you write a book about ghost accountants, and you find readers aren’t interested in them, then write something else. You have the power in your hands. That’s the beauty of being an indie-author. The possibilities are truly endless.