This stop on the Why Indies Rock Blog Tour comes to you from Cleveland, Ohio, the home of the Rock + Roll Hall of Fame and Museum!
We’re always ready to rock here in Cleveland!
Before I dive into my post, I want to talk a bit about what it means to be an indie author. My husband recently told me he had no idea what I meant when I said “indie author” and that maybe that meant others didn’t know either.
An indie author is an author-entrepreneur that chooses to publish their work by themselves (i.e. without a literary agent and publishing house). An indie writes a book then finds an editor, hires a cover/graphics designer, determines which service to publish their book through, and then markets the heck out of themselves and their work.
So why does this indie author rock? For one simple reason: I had a story to tell and I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me that I couldn’t!
I tried to play by the rules of the traditional publishing industry. I really did. But when the odds are stacked against you, what are you supposed to do?
I started writing my novel, The Descendant, over three years ago. Fueled by passion for my story, I wanted nothing more than to get my story on paper and share it with the world. I wrote the novel in six months, re-wrote it several times, and self-edited it many more times (which I later learned was a mistake). And then the fun began – I started querying agents.
And then the rejections came. The useless form rejections stated nothing more than the agent didn’t think they’d be the best representation for me but wished me well.
I scratched my head and thought to myself, something is wrong. I had what I thought was a well written novel. I loved my story so much that I needed to figure out what was wrong. So what did I do?
- I attended a writing workshop at an Ohio college. There, I learned that I wasn’t the grammar queen I thought I was, but I was encouraged by the feedback my sample chapter received.
- I signed up for on-line writing courses where I learned that there was a method to the madness of writing a book. Again, I was encouraged that my novel somehow had all 9 dramatic elements without knowing what I was doing; I just needed to strengthen those points.
- I rewrote the book several times. Multiple times. Numerous times.
- I hired an editor. Commas, semicolons, colons, ellipsis, dashes – oh my! I wasn’t an expert so I hired one.
And when I thought my manuscript was in pristine shape, I queried more agents. What happened? I got those same dreaded form rejections.
I then attended a writer’s conference in NYC. My main reason for doing so was for the chance to pitch my novel directly to agents. After all, how could an agent truly gauge my novel based on a 1-page, 3-paragraph query letter? They needed to hear about my book directly from me.
I considered the trip a success – 4 agents requested sample chapters. If nothing else, I knew the trip guaranteed that four literary agents were going to read my work.
And then what happened? More form rejections.
But I didn’t get down on myself because of something that I learned at the conference. I learned that the big publishing houses were only signing 2-3 unknown authors per year. So even if I landed an agent, the chances of me landing a publisher equated to finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
I viewed my choice as this: continue to query agents in the precious little time I had in the evenings (I have a day job), continue to get rejected, and maybe, in 5+ years I’d find an agent (who then had to find a publisher) OR take matters in to my own hands and get my book out there now. I tried playing by the agent’s and publisher’s rules but in a literary world that is so risk adverse to taking on new authors, I had to find another way to get my story out there.
I opted for the latter. I self-published! And I have zero regrets.
Every indie author has his or her story; this was mine. Take a chance, find an indie author and read their book. Like all other artists, we are simply trying to share our passion with the world.