Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Indie Luvvvv

Say you're a reader. Well, on second thought, if you're reading this blog post, you're a reader. So, OK, no need to "say" you're a reader. You're a reader! Wooo!

OK, you're a reader. You read a book that strikes a chord with you. You email the author to tell him or her how much you enjoyed the book. I'm pretty sure I speak for 99 percent (if not 100 percent) of authors here when I say: THANK YOU. Thank you very much. Readers like you are a big part of what keeps us going and motivated.

I'm an indie author, and I appreciate these reader emails just as much as I did when I was with a publisher. I've noticed something interesting, though. As an indie, I am more lonely, and at the same time, less lonely. Doesn't make sense? Well, much of what comes from my fingertips makes little sense. Except my books! They make sense. Even the story from the POV of a parrot ("Polly Wanna Cracker" in "The Old Woman and Other Lesbian Stories" collection).

The point of this blog post is to share my ideas on what readers can do to support authors, particularly indie authors. Most, if not all, of the articles/posts on this I've seen work for both pub and indie authors. I'm gonna see if I can add a bit more indie flavor, but the bottom line is that an author is an author, and a good book is a good book.

1) Number one touches on my post about me being less and more lonely at the same time as an indie author. More lonely why? Because I see authors with the same publishers gab with one another all the time and swap info and tips and just daily occurrences. They're part of a family (whether the family is good or bad is an entirely different topic). So, yeah, I feel left out. That particular kind of support system is, for me, lacking. I DO belong to a lesfic indie authors group, but it isn't the same.

Less lonely why? Because many people are kind and generous. I have had authors from publishers approach me (without me asking them to) and pretty much taking me under their wing. (In some cases, we're taken under each other's wings at the same time because some want tips on possibly going indie as well.) Many authors with publishers give me tips and keep me going and motivated. I have a couple of Bold Strokes Books authors who have really helped me, and I thank them very much. A couple of the authors from my indies group have also been there when I needed them. However, the big reason I feel less lonely is the readers. My theory on this is thus: indie authors don't have the same support network experience as authors with publishers do, so they make their own network. And most often, the people reaching out to them are READERS. (Part of the close relations with readers, however, may be a function of the small lesfic community.)

2) There are quite likely some practical ways in which you can help your favorite indie authors. If you're a whiz at graphic design, offer to design his or her next cover at a discounted price or for free. If you're pretty good at beta reading and/or editing, you can help here, too.

3) Be supportive but not a star-struck fan boy or fan girl. If your indie author is starting to put out dreck (perhaps feeling rushed to publish often), you have to let the author know. Do so gently, though. Provide specific details (for example, "X character in Story A changed names three times. Maybe I could help beta read your next book.")

4) Send your author a list of review sites that are friendly to indies and/or the genre the author writes in. Marketing and promo takes a lot of an indie's time, and any little help here is much appreciated. Along these lines, review! Post reviews in as many places as you can.

5) Tell your friends about the author. Give that author's books, whether print or ebook or both, as gifts.

6) Keep emailing that author to tell him or her you like his or her books. I've had people email me to say they loved my books. For subsequent books, they order directly from me. I send them the books and don't hear back. I automatically think they didn't like the books but are too scared to tell me.  (We writers can be arrogant and insecure at the same time.) In all of these cases, when the readers and I do reconnect, they say they loved the books but just didn't think to let me know.

7) Ask your indie author (or pub author) how you can help. There are lots of ideas I haven't listed, I'm sure.

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