So, I’m now touting myself as an indie author. The world is my lobster. I can write at my leisure, agonise, review, and get a second opinion from a copyeditor. I juggle my writing windows around essential life maintenance, medical appointments, and when I feel the vibe. Blogging, research, planning and writing together form a pleasurable, solitary home-based activity that suits me just fine at this stage of my life.
Amazon kindle is a gateway to low-cost independent self-publishing, and suits a whole raft of ‘amateur’ writers who are unwilling or unable to make a commitment of time and money to pursue the Holy Grail of a publishing contract. Why bother? You can put your work out there and let the World come to you. To date, about 100,000 authors have done so, and there are approximately 2 million titles in the English language floating around in cyber space.
Sales of my first e-book, Thames Valley Tales, have been flat-lining following the initial surge of downloads from family, friends and fellow writers. I don’t like the idea of giving my work away for free. It has a value – my time, thoughts, experiences and creative ability. That’s worth at least £1.99 of anyone’s money. I’m also finding out that most of my publicity efforts have been met with a wall of indifference. Most people don’t read books. Of those that do, only a small number have become e-book readers. Casual readers can find plenty of free e-books to download and read, and may even stumble on something that will engage them. This wall of low-level interest or just plain indifference can drive any writer insane.
Readers are heavily courted by e-book sellers who try to bully authors into discounting their titles in FREE promotions. A loss-leader with a high number of reads can help an author build up a following, the marketing guys tell you. Well, maybe, but it’s still a scam to sucker authors into giving their work away for free. It de-values the effort that has gone into it, and becomes a product of the internet’s insatiable appetite for free and cheap offers that are aimed at getting more visits to websites, in the hope that other products can be sold to the unsuspecting browser. Amazon are experts at this. We have been unwittingly sucked into this world of free online information and cheap cyber deals, a kind of sweat shop for star-struck authors.
My efforts to direct people to my e-book through social media – Twitter, WordPress and Face Book in my case – are like a mouse squeaking in the Albert Hall, a weedy noise lost amidst all the incessant chatter and sales pitches. Everyone’s talking and no one’s listening. So, why bother?
Well, to answer my own question, I bother because I’ve got something to say, whether anyone wants to hear it or not! I’m alive and kicking, and have amassed some interesting and varied life experience. I am participating in a number of ‘live’ social experiments, including the National Health Service, the Multicultural Society, Western consumerism, being a remote single parent and supporting a struggling football team (it’s the hope that kills you!); all of which provide me with a series of different coloured prisms through which to gaze on our insane world defined by the extremes of capitalist greed and crushing poverty.
I’m not discouraged and working on my next book… This mouse is still squeaking.