In today’s modern literary world, almost anyone can be an author with self-publishing and the DIY approach taking off. It’s never been easier for writers to get their voices heard, often for free, by publishing their own works and disseminating them across the web and social media for purchase.
Yet many readers bypass indie books or authors because of a stigma regarding self-published writers, which is that if someone published their own book, it must not have been good enough to have been published by traditional publishing houses. If this is your mindset, I hope that we here at Fictionate.Me can change that!
So what is an indie author, you ask? The term “indie” just means independent, so an indie author isn’t affiliated with any major company or publishing house. Instead, they publish themselves using sites like Kindle Direct Publishing or platforms like ours here at Fictionate.Me, Smashwords, or WebNovel to publish and earn while they write. Some authors are also published by indie presses, which are usually small nonprofits run by just a few people.
All over the world, writers are working hard to get their work out, either for free or greatly discounted, to the enjoyment of their reader base. But as an indie author, it can be hard to build that fan base without the big publishing houses doing the marketing for them. You, as a reader, can literally change the life of an indie author by buying and reading their book, and most importantly, engaging with them to let them know how much you loved it.
As an indie writer myself (published by small nonprofit indie presses), I know how much it means to me for people to read and buy my poetry and flash fiction and engage with me on social media. Having the support of my reader base (which isn’t huge, by the way) has made me realize my work does affect people positively in some way, and it keeps me going on some days when I just want to quit. So you, dear reader, are everything to us!
If you’re still feeling unsure about reading indie authors, here are some great reasons why you should read independently published books and support these hard-working self-published and indie-published authors.
Indie authors are just like you and me. They might have spouses, families, full-time jobs (that aren’t related to writing novels), and bills to pay. When you patronize local stores and restaurants, you know the money is going to help the owner(s). And the hard-earned money you paid for that indie book will (mostly) go into the pockets of the actual author, meaning you just helped buy a baby a new pair of shoes or contributed a few more dollars to a college fund. Buying a traditionally published book means you’re lining the pockets of mostly everyone except the author, who only receives 10% of profits from their book, versus 30-70% for an independently published book.
That’s not to say big-name authors like J.K. Rowling or Stephen King don’t appreciate their readers. Of course they do, because without readers, where would they be?
However, if you want a more intimate relationship with your favorite writer, try reading an indie novel (or novella, or even poetry) and then engaging directly with the author on social media or their website. While Maggie Steifvater might not get back to you herself, an indie author will love your support and engagement and it will make all their hard work feel worthwhile.
For indie authors, having a small core of readers who really love their work and actively engage with them means more than fame and a million followers. That one review you take the time to write makes a huge difference to the author and means the world to them, and could also mean more sales for them down the road.
If you’re familiar with big publishers, you’ll have heard the term “gatekeeper” bandied about quite frequently. That’s because literary agents, editors, and sometimes even interns are the gatekeepers that say whether a book is worth publishing or not. Why do they get the final say?
Case in point: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected by twelve different publishers. Yes, twelve. If Rowling had not been persistent and gone to that thirteenth publisher, the world might have been robbed of one of the most beloved fantasy series of all time.
So with an indie book, you get to decide whether it’s worth reading or not, which is entirely subjective. Don’t like the book? That’s ok! It will still be circulating out there for someone else to read and possibly fall in love with, leaving those options open for the authors to still enjoy some success.
Indie authors get to truly realize their creative vision without having the powers that be reject their progressive ideas. In the world of publishing, editors are going to go with what is popular at the moment, meaning thousands of books go unpublished because the “gatekeepers” don’t believe it’s popular or mainstream enough to sell.
So if you’re looking for genres, themes, narratives, and characters that veer toward the road less traveled, check out an indie pick. Some writers have incredibly imaginative visions that get rejected by editors, but then go on to self-publish them and they really take off.
Who knows, your next life-changing read might be one published by a teacher and mother of three who was rejected ten times by editors before it fell, self-published and polished, into your hands. Maybe that busy mom and teacher who stayed up late nights wrote something that will speak to your very soul. Everyone has a story and they deserve to be able to tell it. But you never know until you give them a chance.
Looking for a great indie read? Look no further than our May Writing Contest Winner, Assassin’s Choice by Al Nelson!
"Find the defector. Prove your innocence. Eliminate him." Runa was nothing more than a killing machine, trained not to feel, not to question. Only to obey. This was her life now. Her only option was to fulfill her role with perfection...Or die trying.
Click here to read the first seven chapters for free!
Here at Fictionate.Me, we love all things indie. Which means you can publish your manuscript or WIPs, on your terms, and earn money while you write. Readers, you can read great fiction for free or discounted prices and give feedback to support your favorite indie writers on their writing journey. There’s something for everyone here!
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Author Bio: Heather R. Parker is a freelance writer, editor, and published poet from Georgia. She works as a writer and editor for the self-publishing platform Fictionate.me. Her work has been published by Nightingale & Sparrow Magazine, Analog Submissions Press, Friday Flash Fiction, Medium, and others. Her upcoming chapbook will be published by Between Shadows Press in the summer of 2021. You can follow Heather’s writing at Instagram, Facebook, and the blog on Fictionate.Me.