Indie Publishing: A Grassroots Wildfire

I'm reading a book called The Indie Journey: Secrets to Writing Success by Scott Nicholson. (A very well spent $5, BTW.) There's a lot of talk in it about the difference between traditional and indie (or vanity, or self) publishing. The difference that keeps hitting me between the eyes is how, without a big, faceless publisher between the reader and the writer, the writing becomes a conversation.

I think just about any writer who has thought about being a professional novelist since before maybe two years ago would tell you that their goal was to write a novel that gained the attention of an agent, who then gained the attention of a publisher, who then offered an advance and sometime in the future put the novel in front of readers. They would have told you that without the two middle men, an agent and a publisher, a novel stood no chance of finding a readership.

For decades, maybe even longer, the conventional wisdom was that editors weed out the bad to ferret out the good for readers, and that agents do that for editors. Now, suddenly, there are authors who are making news because they're being offered huge advances and landing big-deal agents after they'd already become successful authors without either of those.

Think about that for a minute. I wonder if you, like me, will have your faith in publishing restored by that. Readers aren't being led blindly around by the big publishers. They're perfectly capable of choosing what they want to read. And authors don't have to put their entire careers in the hands of other people. They can become their own cottage industries.

I've been a writer for a long time, in many different formats. By far my most favorite is blogging. The wall between me and my blogs' readers is so thin it's transparent. And I love that. Emailing and chatting on Facebook and Twitter or in the comments of my posts with readers is by far the most rewarding thing I get out of writing. Even far more rewarding from a personal and professional standpoint than the money I get as a content writer, where I shoot off a short article and never think of it or who might read it again. (I'll admit that buying groceries with money I earned writing in any format is pretty rewarding, though.)

Indie publishing excites me, too. I have a gargantuan stack of no-thank-yous for my novels. Most of them are form letters. Some of them are not. Some of them are so personal and so encouraging, they are what keep me writing in the face of soul-killing rejection. I know my stories are good. They're well written and professionally edited. They deserve readers. And suddenly, while bookstores are closing and traditional publishers are scared to take on new writers, there is this grassroots revival of killer literature.

Suddenly, the reader and the writer are partners. They're friends, even. The reader has an intricate part in the success of a favorite story. Maybe they always did, but its never been so intimate before. If you read the Freaks and the Revolution prologue and you like it, you can leave me a message that I and anyone else who stops by can see immediately. And they can talk to you about what you thought, or I can. And you can let your friends know that there's this interesting story they might like. And they can let their friends know.

And that's a wildfire. And that's exciting. It's exciting as a writer. And it's damned exciting as a reader, too.

Thank you, thank you, for being part of my wildfire.


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