Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, a fairly major holiday in the United States. Many of my countrymen are thus thoughtful this week, contemplating what it means to be American. I’m not really sure what my country means to me, but the thing I’m exploring in my thoughts is the nature of independence. It’s obvious what the United States means when it says it’s independent, but what does a writer mean?
On the surface level, it’s easy to say what indie means. It translates simply to being published by someone other than the big traditional houses. But what are the implications of that? Many of us celebrated Indie Pride Day earlier in the week, but what do we have to be proud of? What makes us different from our traditionally published brethren?
All published writers are brave, because it takes courage to show your writing to people who may reject it, but I think it takes even more courage to put yourself on the market without the external validation and hand holding that you get from being with a major house. Therefore, I suspect that being indie means being couragious.
Indies are determined people. Again, all writers who have completed an entire book must possess this trait, but I think it takes a little extra oomph to do it on your own. I’m certain that if I were accountable to an entire string of people I would find motivation to write every day easier to dredge up. As things are, I have to find the inspiration within myself.
We believe in ourselves, not because other people believe in us but because we find the strength within ourselves. And, yes, it does take strength to believe in oneself.
Being indie also means being free to write whatever we like without worrying that we’ll be censored. Some of us write safe, popular-style books that could be found on traditional presses, but only if that’s what we want to write. If we want to write something that will never sell to more than a few hundred people even if the whole world knew the book existed, we do it. If we want to write something that the masses wouldn’t understand, we do. If we want to write something that makes a point, the point will be made even if it’s not a popular one. We’re even allowed to make the people on our covers look like the people in our books, a perk many a traditionally published writer would love to have.
So, to me being an independent author means being strong, courageous, determined, and free of external constraints. What does it mean to you?