If there was a job advertisement for an indie author, it might read like this:
Title: Indie Author
Responsibilities: The main responsibility will be to write a well-received book that will earn the equivalent to one’s current daytime employment.
*Responsibilities will also include, but not be limited to: advertising manager as well as manager of multiple social media accounts, including a mailing list and website, developmental editor, copy editor, book cover designer, book manuscript formatter, procuring of quality reviews, audiobook director and audiobook casting, self-motivating coach, and finally, accountant and tax advisor.
Prejudice: Most people will think that you aren’t good enough to be traditionally published.
But what’s great about being an indie author?
I control every inch of the book I want to write, from the words on the page to the narrator I chose for the audiobook to the advertisements I run.
This is important for many reasons but for me personally because what I want to write is not for a modern traditional publisher. I want my books to move people, not just to be a crowd-pleaser. This means, as a reader, what I write may upset you. It may make you feel things that you don’t want to feel. You may not be able to get some of the scenes I present out of your head. In short, what I write may be shocking. But in my opinion that is the purpose of a good book, to make you think about something in a different way, whether it be agreeable or distasteful, is irrelevant a good book makes you remember and you feel something. I don’t believe any traditional publisher would want that these days. Traditional publishing seems to want every relationship between a man and woman to end in a happily ever after scenario because that sells books and doesn’t offend anyone. All the main characters should be likable and fit into the accepted stereotypes. But I chose to be an indie author because I want to do more than merely sell books. I want to really say something about the world and society, and if you really want to say something, that might offend someone, you must go independent, whether you’re a filmmaker, a writer, an artist. No one wants to risk offending anyone in the establishment and that says so much about the state of the world that I will not go into here, but thankfully, independents like myself and so many others still have a voice.
I wrote, ‘My Human Pet’ to be shocking and terrifying. What happens to the main character, being abducted and sold as a pet, is terrible and something I feel no one should ever have to endure. From the very beginning, I present a real character with flaws in a genuinely terrible situation. As the book progresses, I purposely play on general prejudices, social norms surrounding body hair, examples of Stockholm syndrome and questionable sexual practices to keep readers uncomfortable as they follow the main character’s experiences. Make no mistake, this book was explicitly written to oppose to the classic alien science fiction romance abduction happily ever after trope. Because if aliens truly are abducting human women, if an abductee is lucky enough to receive a ‘beloved pet status’, they should count themselves as lucky. ‘My Human Pet’ is implicitly asking, “Did you really think abduction by an alien would end in a happy ever after?”
There is no question that being an indie author requires a larger skill set than going down the route of an author with a traditional publisher, but indie authors are rewarded for their hard work. Not only monetarily, but in the satisfaction of seeing every inch of their book as their own, just as they imagined it would be when it was still nothing on a blank screen. I can look at my book and know every inch of it. From the name of the photographer who took the picture for the cover because I had to write out the copyright to the name of the font I used or the point, it was set on. Being an indie author challenges you to do things and learn things you thought you would never do when you discovered you were an author, but if you are up to the challenge, being an indie author allows you complete creative freedom in every sense and thanks to modern platforms, you have every chance to compete with traditionally published books.
For me, I will always be an indie author.
Thank you, Bookcase and Coffee, for asking the question, “What it is to be an indie author?”
I’m Olympia Black. I’m an indie author and my books are always on KU.
Originally published on Bookcase and Coffee, 04/11/2020