Over twelve months ago I blogged about one of the most inspiring aspects of the rise of the "indie" author, and the ebook/Print-On-Demand revolution. That was the willingness and honesty of writers to share their experiences. Not just about the craft of writing and editing, but also the mechanics of publishing, of promotion, of cover design, of pricing and distribution and networking.
This caring and sharing came not just from big-name bestselling authors such as David Morrell and Stephen Leather, but also from a diverse range of those practicing the craft -from mid-listers through to newbies, from the traditionally published to the self-published.
I decided to update that post and wondered what had changed since my earlier blog.
As it turns out - nothing, and everything.
That collective cyber-consciousness of information, advice, tips and support from writers for writers is still there, but it has not just grown, it has literally exploded nova-like and has spread to include editors, literary agents, readers, reviewers, all playing a part in shaping a vibrant new literary landscape. That point was brought home to me when I read a new thread posted to the Kindle Community board this week, from David Peters, simply titled "A Thanks to the Indie Community." He writes - '...there have been quite a few authors I have latched onto and would read just about anything they have to say but as yet have not yet been discovered by the mainstream,' and '...thanks to those taking the time to answer questions...and offer that nudge of encouragement that many need.'
I was reminded that the ebook/POD revolution isn't just a global business phenomenon - it's also a very personal one for individual writers and readers.
There is now a growing number of indie authors, not just the mega-sellers like John Locke and Amanda Hocking - but indies who have reached out and found a smaller, perhaps niche market of readers, with whom they have established a consistently growing base of readers. For the first time authors and readers are connected, via blogs, FB, Twitter and specialist websites, be it Kindleboards, Nookboards, Amazon forums, Goodreads, Shelfari and the like.
Authors/bloggers such as M P McDonald, Helen Smith, M Louisa Locke, David Gaughran and many others have kept us informed on what has worked for them and what has not - sharing their analysis and opinions not just on their successes and/or failures, but also on their experiments with pricing, networking and industry developments (such as the Amazon initiative of KDP Select).
Of course, mainstream media has always had interviews with well known authors and their path to success, but those articles were heavily edited, diplomatic transcripts. Imagine if there'd been a Wiki-leaks way back when to reveal what some of those guys really thought about the 'biz.
As writers, it's up to you and I to sift through and analyse what's best for us, and what isn't.
J. A. Konrath's blog, A Newbie's Guide To Publishing has been around a few years and is one of the pioneers of this warts-and-all approach. Joe was an early adopter/predictor of the rise of ebooks and of reasonable, affordable pricing. Joe is both traditionally published, and an "indie," foot-in-both-camps at various times. Thankfully, this hasn't stopped him from being highly vocal about many elements of traditional publishers and the NY6 (sounds like an evil cabal, but it's actually just an affectionate (?) term for the six big New York publishing corporations.)
When I first set out to set up my own small book imprint, and launch my own novel, I had no idea all this advice from others doing similar things, was out there.
I'm glad it was.
Some of the authors/bloggers I'm following, and gleaning plenty from their experiences, are the following:
Bestselling novelist Stephen Leather began publishing his own ebooks and he's a regular on the Amazon Kindle lists. His blog issues a step-by-step rundown on just how others can emulate his practices and achieve success, at his blog - http://www.publishingebooks.blogspot.com
Michael R Sullivan writes fantasy bestsellers, also riding high on Kindle lists among others, and recently signed with trad publishers. His wife and co-publisher, Robin, has a blog titled write2publish that provides a wealth of little gems on pricing, marketing, distribution, all the nitty gritty stuff. Robin is very forthcoming on just how she and Michael built their business, publishing other authors as well.
There's a certain bravery in communicating a personal writing journey, and I commend M P McDonald, author of 'No GoodDeed,' and 'March Into Hell,' who has shone a light ahead for those like me who are coming in from the dark. Mary's blog can be found here and likewise, check out David Gaughran's Let's Get Digital and historical mystery author M Louisa Locke's blog
The UK's Helen Smith is a playwright, screenwriter, novelist and children's author whose blog offers fascinating insights, tips, advice, promotions and, for international readers like myself, there's lots of glimpses of day-today life in and around London. Love it.
April L Hamilton's website Publetariat has long been a source of inspiration, motivation and tasty morsels of information for the budding author/publisher.
In fact, it was April's "Indie Author Guide To Publishing For The Kindle With Amazon's Digital Text Platform..." that I found one of the most useful, user-friendly, practical articles on the subject.
The Passive Guy is a lawyer and a writer with a lot to say about the publishing biz, up-to-date news and snarky observations on where it's all going, at The Passive Voice
Bestseller Bob Mayer, author of the Area 51 and Atlantis series among many others, also now runs an indie publishing house, he blogs all about it here
Jennifer Penn, author of the thrillers 'Pentecost,' and 'Prophecy,' covers writing, publishing and marketing in depth at The Creative Penn
Amy Rogers is the author of the science-themed suspense novel 'Petroplague,' published in print and ebook by the New York publishing firm Diversion Books. Amy, who has a Harvard doctorate in immunology, has an interest in all things scientific and medical, and in educational platforms on science for the young and the young-at-heart. The good doctor combines all this at sciencethrillers.com, just one of many emerging websites that are champions of specific genres, connecting writers, readers and publishers of those genres in new kinds of 21st Century reading societies.
And all those mentioned here are just the tip of the iceberg.
This caring, sharing, ever-expanding entrepreneurial writing community is one of the best things about being a writer right now. It's out there 24/7, it's free, it's hot-wired into the international publishing scene, and it's just a click away.