Last week, I stumbled across this tweet from C.L. Schneider, author of The Crown of Stones series: “Indie doesn’t have to mean alone. Discover the movement. #indiebooksbeseen #StrongerTogether.”
It was simple and forthright. It didn’t link to anything else. It wasn’t selling anything. It wasn’t a promotion for anything more than an awareness of the indie authors movement, and a call for solidarity.
If you’ve been reading my blog over the last few months, you may recall how gobsmacked I’ve been as a newbie to the indie authors community. I’ve always known writers were a supportive bunch. I’ve been to plenty of creative writing classes, seminars, and retreats. Yes, I’ve occasionally met the obnoxious author who thinks that his “stuff” doesn’t stink like the rest of ours. I remember one particularly grating lad whose only comment on other people’s work always involved the rather snarky note: “It was very pithy.” (Bite me, brother.)
But this is rare. Most authors are pathologically insecure about their own work and its place in the world. Writing classes are as much an exercise in support group therapy as they are in craft development. And the online indie author movement is another animal entirely.
Yes, there is as much “support group therapy” as in writing classes. In fact, one of my favorite online groups makes no bones about it, their very title is “The Insecure Writers Support Group.” But these groups go beyond mutual critiquing and sympathy and into the realm of active participation in one’s career and journey as an independent writer.
For example, the Author Promo Co-Op on Facebook has two faces. The primary face is a co-op of indie authors who share information back and forth regarding the challenges of independent publishing. You can find discussions regarding the relative merits of Smashwords versus Kindle Direct as publishing platforms, the value and logistics of doing library tours, and opportunities to join forces for mutually supportive events, among other things.
To give just one example of what a supportive group of people APC is, one of its members, without prompt or pleading, went ahead and created this for the members, a project in which I’m proud to have been included.
The second face is a promotional group, dedicated to indie authors who have work to share and are seeking help from their peers. So if you have a book launch or a cover reveal or an interview to promote, whether for yourself or someone else, you post the link into IBBS and APC Promo Share, and the other members of the group will share your promotion with their networks. This helps to increase your reach and engagement for your promotions, which will hopefully lead to better sales.
This second group, as you might have guessed from the title, is shared with #IndieBooksBeSeen (on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/IndieBooksBeSeen?fref=ts and on the web at http://www.indiebooksbeseen.com/#/). #IndieBooksBeSeen has been a bastion of the indie authors movement, founded by Mark Shaw with the express mission of drawing as much attention as possible to indie writers/self-publishers from “the outside world,” to lift the indie authors industry as a whole and bring awareness to indies, to build readership and become competitive with the mainstream market, to move indies away from the competitive mindset of “me, me, me!” and unify authors in support of one another, and to make indie publishing trendy.
Another group that has been influential in the movement is the Independent Authors Network (Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheIndependentAuthorNetwork; on the web: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/). Founded in December 2010, the Independent Author Network (IAN) has made itself into an important resource for indie authors who count on the site for effective and affordable book promotion. More than 28,000 readers visit IAN each day to find great books by talented independent authors.
None of this even scratches the surface of the number of different groups available for independent and aspiring writers in the online community. On Facebook alone, there are genre-specific versions of nearly all these groups, and multiples of all of them. If Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors is too Trekky for you, there’s the Fantasy Writers. If it’s not Trekky enough, try Science Fiction. And if your idea of fantasy is hot and steamy, search Facebook for Romance or Erotica groups; they’re not my kettle of fish, but they might be yours. English Historical fiction? Sure, why not? Because many of these genres have been ghettoized by mainstream publishing and the larger American culture, they have flourished in the niches and crannies of the Internet.
So when C.L. Schneider admonishes us to remember that Indie doesn’t have to mean alone, she’s really not kidding. Discover the movement. Because we really are Stronger Together.
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I am currently publishing a serialized fantasy novella, Hedge King in Winter, on Wattpad. I also have a full-length heroic fantasy novel currently on offer to publishers, tentatively entitled Heron Cry. If you’re an agent or publisher interested in receiving a book proposal, please contact me via MDellert-AT-MDellert-Dot-Com.