Are you an Indie Author?
It feels like I’m in the busiest period of my literary life to date, although a little window of let-up is in site after our Kilburn show, but many of the things causing such busiment are hugely exciting, and this is the perfect chance to share one of them. Well two, actually, because it’s media week coming up – on Tuesday morning I’ll be talking about the future of publishing and Year Zero on Radio Dubai – do be sure to tune in.
On Monday, the lovely Carolyn from LitChat, one of the highlights of the cultural week on twitter, has asked me to host the chat as part of the annual Indie Author Showcase (to join in, simply enter the #litchat hashtag into twitter’s search, and add it to your tweets, keep updating and you’ll follow and take part in the whole thing – it happens from 4-5pm EST, which is 9-10pm BST).
THE TRANSCRIPT WITH ALL (RECORD-BREAKING) 705 TWEETS IS HERE It was such a fantastic, busy night that #litchat even made it to trending!
This is a great thing to be able to do, and it was suggested I prepare some questions to ask participants in advance, all of which led me to think, what actually IS an indie author? And am I one? So, here are the questions I’ll be asking, and brief thoughts on my own answers. Do comment here, and come and join in on Monday.
For those new here, do look around at what we do – I hope you’ll find some of the most amazing shorts, poems, novels, articles and live gigs anywhere. And aside from our members, and our own blogs (in “links”) here’s a list of some of my indie heroes & places
1. Those of you who think of yourselves as Indie authors, what does the “indie” bit actually mean to you?
I must confess, the more I use the word the less I understand it, and the more it feels like just another genre. I also find it harder to separate in my mind from “indie” music, where it seems simply to be about the kind of label you’re signed to.
2. How do you feel about the things a mainstream publisher would do for you (editing, distribution, design etc)? Are you “indie” because you want to do these yourself (if so, how?), or because you consider them irrelevant to what you do?
I love the control I have over editing and design. On the other hand, with distribution, I just think the whole mainstream model is wrong, and I’d rather rethink from scratch. To me the idea of bookstore chains that stock titles that’ll sell a few thousand globally is just bonkers, and inefficient, and I have no interest in being part of it. Likewise, I just don’t get ISBNs. If you’re “indie” why do you need one? For me, someone who puts an ISBN on their book isn’t indie – or maybe that’s exactly what Indie is and I’ve answered questions 1 & 3 – Indie is self-publishing in the sense of doing what a publisher does, but yourself/on a smaller scale.
3. What do you think the difference, if any, as an approach, is between Indie, Punk, and Alternative?
See above. I both like and dislike the term Alternative. I hate it because I don’t see what I do as being in opposition to anything. I’m not on of “the ones who do it differently from the mainstream”. I just do what I do. On the other hand, at least in the UK (I don’t know the US terminology I’m afraid), Alternative has overtones of a slightly seedy, underground (again I’m ambivalent about that word as it contrasts with overground) world that I like. Punk is s great word descriptively, because it has democratic and DIY implications that are great. But it’s overused and has become associated with things that are a bit crap. I think I just do what I do, but every now and again in order to get on radio shows and in magazines, I might need to give that a name.
4. How do you feel about “the mainstream?”
I don’t, really. I certainly. We do what we do, they do what they do, and there’s room for both. What I’m not so sure about are people who self-publish in order to get to the mainstream. I’m sure it works sometimes, and I’m sure the mainstream will more and more look at self-published writers. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s the best way to enter the mainstream, and you may spend more time than you wanted doing things that won’t help you in the long run. One thing’s for sure, though – that isn’t indie. It’s an alternative way of querying the mainstream.
5. How do you reach your readers?
This is the really interesting one, and the one I’ve least to say on because you know what I do already:
- this website!
- other web-based projects like the forthcoming eight cuts gallery
- hanging out in galleries and music venues
- writing reviews and articles in magazines and ezines my readers read
- live shows
- trying to get reviewed
- generally hanging out with people who do what I do – forming networks in the fiction, music, art, poetry community
See you Monday!!