Friday, 4 July 2014

Stigma? What stigma?

I had an all too familiar encounter recently that I thought I’d start by sharing with you.
I was having a conversation with someone I met whilst out (I’m a very sociable bunny for a writer!) and explained to them that I currently didn’t have a ‘job’ per se because I was working on my writing for a few months. They found this fascinating and asked about my writing. I explained that I had just published my second book etc, etc. They then asked the inevitable question. Who am I published by. So I carefully explained that in fact I was published by myself, that I was an Indie author.
The reaction was depressing, but sadly not one that I am unfamiliar with. Their expression of excitement and interest dropped.
“Ah…right…so you’re not properly published then?”
Unfortunately, as painful as that kind of comment is, it is not an uncommon one for Indie authors. I don’t think there is one Indie author out there who hasn’t, at some point or another, faced the inevitable stigma that comes with admitting you are part of an industry that most people simply don’t understand.
To the average person the word ‘self-published’ conjures up  an image of the desperate, but vain, writer who refuses to believe that their drivel is simply unpublishable and seeks self-publishing to ‘prove everybody wrong’.
And unfortunately we all get tarred with that brush.
I cannot count the number of times I have been asked ‘so you couldn’t find a real publisher then?’ and I have to explain that no, I didn’t really look in the first place.
But this stigma associated with self-publishing makes it harder for us all. The great and wonderful Indie books out there get lumped in with the trash, and people dismiss the whole branch of the publishing industry. They chose to stick to what the big publishers churn out because that way they feel the chaff has already been separated from the wheat. Which firstly, simply isn’t true, and secondly, is a shame because they could be missing out on some truly amazing reads.
So how can we, as Indie authors, get rid of this stigma? Unfortunately it’s going to be a long process. It has already begun, thankfully, but we have a way to go yet.
The first thing we have to do is make sure that what we are producing is as good as it can possibly be. In fact, we Indie authors have to actually be BETTER than the traditionally published. We have to make sure our books are so polished they literally shine like the diamonds we hope they are. A typo or error in a traditionally published book is glossed over. A typo or error in an Indie book and everyone uses it as an excuse to prove it’s not as professional.
The second thing we have to do is support each other. Through sites like this one, or the many others that dot the internet. On Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads. We have to stand behind each other because not many other people will. And that goes for fans of indie books too. Support your favourite author. Help them spread the word. Help spread the word that Indie doesn’t necessarily mean bad!
The third and final thing we have to do? We have to not let them get us down. We have to make sure we don’t give up. The publishing industry is changing – it has already begun – and Indie authors are often at the forefront of that change. We are innovators and entrepreneurs. We are the inventors of new models of publishing and marketing.
So be proud Indie authors!
Do as I did and explain to those who question you that they should judge you not on the imprint on the spine of your book, but the words within.   

P.S - Oh and to our followers from the U.S.A (and my fellow Rock the Book Chicks) - Have a great 4th of July!

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