This post originally appeared on my blog, I Make Stuff Up.
If you’ve had the pleasure to share a drink with me, you’ve probably heard my theory about how the literary industry today is in the same place the music industry was 20 years ago. I’ve even blogged about what these changes mean to authors in the query stage and those of us Indie published authors out there selling their books.
Being an Indie author is wonderful! Don’t get me wrong. I adore my publisher, Goodmedia Press, and she indulges me with witty text banter while I’m out there hustling my books. And, after a few conversations with traditionally published authors being told by their agents that “the check is in the mail” for months on end, I count myself very fortunate to find a cheerleader who respects me as an author and a girl trying to keep the shoe closet filled.
I’m in a program through the Kroger stores in Texas in which local authors do in-store book signings during the weekends. It’s a wonderful opportunity, but also a lot of work giving my spiel a million times, pointing people in the direction of the restroom and greeting card section and trying to keep my inner snark monster at bay when faced with comments like “I’ve never heard of you before.”
If you remember back to the early 90s (stretch way back … past Baywatch, the Rachel haircut we all had and the Soup Nazi), the Pacific Northwest was home to a burgeoning music scene, one that bucked the commercial norm with long, stringy hair and guitar-driven angst that made flannel stylish (I think I still owe my dad a few of his flannel shirts back). It was so anti everything else that was commercially popular at the time, but us Gen X-ers embraced it, bringing these Indie musicians front and center just months after playing someone’s garage.
The same is happening now in literature. Despite industry changes, there is a big opportunity for Indie authors to cultivate an audience even if their work doesn’t fit neatly into one package (Phoenix, for example, is a cross-dresser). And, like my Indie music counterparts, I may be playing the small clubs, but it’s all good, because I get a chance to talk with each of my readers and get to know who is interested in the story.
So, when will Indie authors take off and start playing the stadiums? It’s hard to tell. There’s been some harbingers of success like Amanda Hocking and Hugh Howey, but both of these guys are actually self-published and write genre fiction … meaning that they were fortunate enough to have a built-in audience and had the writing chops to keep them there. (For the record, self-publishing is Indie publishing, but Indie publishing isn’t self … I need a drink before I can explain the difference).
This is an exciting time to be an author. I have more friends with books coming out now than ever before – using all forms of publishing. I see so many people at Kroger excited to have a new book to dive into – so literature is far from dead. My advice to readers, stop and say hello to the nice author hocking her books in the produce aisle – she could be the next
Pearl Jam er, best-seller.
And to you authors, it’s completely worth giving up your weekends to shiver in the frozen food section when you have a surprise like this waiting for you:
And for the record, greeting cards are on Aisle 19.