I wanted to title this post, “What is a Published Author,” but changed my mind when I realized there was a deeper issue I wanted to address. When I received my acceptance notice from Potato Eyes Literary Magazine for my first short story “Saving the World” some twenty years ago, I had never been more excited. Truth be told, even after selling over 100,000 copies of my Nick Bracco series, that’s still my favorite accomplishment. And when I sold my stories to Potpourri and Evansville Review and Amazing Journeys and so on, the success gave me a sense of achievement. It let me know my work was accepted within the literary community.
Then later, when I received my first Pushcart Prize nomination for the best short story of the year, it solidified the fact that I had some skill. After a second Pushcart Prize nomination, I finally had the confidence to write novels. All of these steps led me to where I am today.
Fast forward twenty years. Past the literary agent who kept my manuscript on the bottom shelf until a very kind assistant recommended I leave the agency or wait for a phone call that will never come. Past the second literary agent who said my work was exceptional, but the industry was changing and new authors were pushed to the bottom of the pile. Publishers were better off trying to sell the fifteenth novel from a somewhat known author than the first one from a fresh voice.
Recognize this sequel strategy in the movie industry?
So, when I approach the subject of independent authors, I truly mean writers who are independent. Writers who can choose their distribution method. They can choose their editor. They can approve their own cover design. The independent authors I’m speaking of are not the rare ones who slipped past the gatekeepers by writing inferior work, then posting it on Amazon and hoping for sales. I’m speaking about writers who chose to take on the industry by forging ahead with their career despite the odds. Writers who could’ve been published with a legacy publisher but chose not to wait.
Instead of wasting time railing against the traditional publishing companies who try to squeeze out independent authors, I’d rather stress the positive. And here are just some of them:
John Locke, J.A. Konrath, Hugh Howey, Amanda Hocking and Jonas Saul, just to name a few. Authors who decided to take their own path to acquiring an audience for their work. Writers who weren’t told by a publisher they had to leave politics out of their story, or keep their idea more mainstream.
So how do we encourage this outbreak of creative storytelling? Support them. Blog about them. Write them. Tell them what you liked about their stuff. Tell your friends about their work. Anytime you’re promoting their product, you’re boosting their chances to create more original work. You’re giving someone an opportunity to spend more time writing and less time working their day job. It sounds hyperbolic, but it’s true. There are so many authors who need to find other means to produce income outside of writing. It’s grass roots support that could make the difference.
So, if you like an author’s work, nurture it. Blow on the flames slightly to get the kindle started. Pun intended. I will continue to support these fine writers and I hope you will as well.
Here are some other authors who deserve your consideration. Some are hybrid authors who straddle the line of traditional and independent publishing, but their quality of work is worth your attention:Robert Bidinotto, Cheryl Bradshaw, Luke Romyn, Lawrence Kelter, Jennifer Chase & Dean Lappi.