Sunday, 10 July 2011
Independent Authors ARE Actual Authors
However, I still tend to become annoyed when people badmouth or discuss the independent writer community without knowing the facts or real story, just accepting what they're told without further research. I'll aim to clear a few misconceptions with this article.
During a recent discussion on Facebook, one author voiced their frustration about others' comments on her status as an actual author: "I'm tired of the flack that [name of publisher] gets from other [authors not signed to named publisher]. I'm really tired of being told that I'm not really published just because I chose [publisher]."
Wait a moment...those naysayers are trying to state unless an author is signed to one of the "big six" publishers in the world, they're not actually published? I don't think so. Many people revel in putting down others and their work; perhaps they are insecure, or even have little or no concept on how independent authorship actually works. Whatever the case, such mentality couldn't be more irrational.
Several independent authors received hassles concerning their published statuses at some point, but here's a reassuring thought - a large number of famous authors were self-published long before anyone knew what the Internet was.
Independent authors have also either have been nominated or won awards for their books. One prestigious award is the Pushcart Prize, which has been hailed as honoring the best of the small presses since 1976. While it may not be the Pulitzer, the Pushcart Prize is no lightweight, and there is a nomination process to follow. By the way, nominations for the Pushcart Prize is free of charge.
Did you also know there's a considerable number of independent authors with literary agents? It's true (I'm one of them)! Another irrational - yet popular - belief is that one must have a literary agent to be taken seriously as authors with the exception of celebrities. While it's easier for celebrities to get deals from major publishing houses, aside from that factor, nothing can be further from the truth.
While it doesn't happen often, independent authors with literary agents have made the leap to mainstream publishing via their respective agents. Some agents have signed independent writers after seeing samples of their work either sent to them or on major writing sites such as Authonomy (powered by HarperCollins) and even smaller promotional sites such as Authors on Show.
Small, independent publishing houses work about the same as the "big six:" once the author is signed, an editor is assigned to the book and endless rounds of revisions begin on behalf of both sides. As authors, we've been through edits, re-edits, one chapter revision after another so many times, we could do it in our sleep. Imagine what editors go through on a daily basis!
Once the book is edited to satisfaction, proof galleys are checked carefully before final approvals are made and sent to press. The entire process can take up to one year; my debut novel, The Cruiserweight took a little over two years from manuscript to publication. The only difference is the publisher is a smaller one - who's boasted a few best sellers on their own.
Let's get another inaccuracy straight - small, independent publishing houses are not "vanity publishers." I cringe every time I hear this term. Vanity publishers are those to whom people pay to have their work published. Neither I nor any independent authors ever paid a penny to have our books in print. We had publishers who chose our books out of many others in the same fashion as major companies.
Author and friend Jason Alexander Greenwood was recently interviewed on NBC for his take on independent publishing. This was excellent coverage on the independent author community, and may also give those who aren't familiar with how the indie author circuit works. I highly recommend taking a look.
A side note of caution: Any "agent" or "publisher" who charges a fee for publication and/or representation should be avoided. No legitimate publisher or agent will ever charge authors a fee. A good resource for checking out publishers, agents, etc. is Preditors and Editors, the guide to publishers and publishing services for serious writers since 1997.
Being an independent author shouldn't mean being conned out of your hard-earned cash; it should mean being a success in your own right - no matter what size or how well-known your publishing house is!