‘What extactly is an indie author?’ a friend asked when I told her I was taking part in the recent #indieauthorweekuk, a series of events aimed at independent writers.
Trust me, it is a question I’ve also asked myself especially when faced with the uphill task of marketing and getting your books ‘out there’ in an already crowded market.
Actually the answer is simple. A so-called ‘indie’ author is one who publishes directly to a platform – the big one being Amazon but there are a growing number of other players – rather than doing it through a traditional publisher. A bit like those indie musicians who go directly to YouTube, Spotify etc.
Right from the outset, I wanted to learn about the book publishing process from start to finish. Not just the main writing bit but commissioning a cover, creating a book ‘blurb’, formatting, bringing in test readers, proof reading, marketing – the learning curve goes on. Note that word ‘commissioning’ because not all of those elements are done by me. However, I am involved actively in all of these stages and have been gaining knowledge along the way.
Certainly the decision to go the ‘indie’ route wasn’t made as a result of any rejection. To date I have never approached a traditional publisher or agent about my fictional work, despite having past dealings with some top publishers about factual books.
More writers, (including some who have already gone the traditional publishing route), are opting for independent publishing because of the creative freedom it gives, the ability to get their work out more quickly and to keep a larger share of any royalties. Nobody is saying it is easy – trust me it isn’t! – but there is a satisfaction in being able to say ‘this is down to me’ and to involve the people of your own choosing.
Indie authors are growing more savvy and realising that strength comes from a sense of community. Which brings me back to the #indieauthorweekuk annual event. Linked to a regular networking group, this was set up 4 years ago by Sue Miller, founder of #Team Author UK, which provides Assisted Publishing services to independent authors. Sue was looking for bespoke indie author festivals/events and because she couldn’t find any, she created one.
This year I did a series of Q&As with five authors, (Jude Lennon, Amanda Davey, Lesley Rawlinson, Chris Turnbull and Su Echo Falls S’ari aka Rose English). It was great to learn about their work and to share it across social media. Their individual writing journeys were fascinating and different – we have all vowed to keep in touch and try to meet up when things return to normality.
Jude Lennon and I also did a recorded chat about short stories. Aside from a few virtual sound gremlins – we are all getting used to those aren’t we? – it was good fun and I hope we might have encouraged a few people to take the short fiction writing plunge.
During our short story chat, Jude and I discussed our love of heading off in our respective mobile ‘homes’ – in Jude’s case that is a vintage VW Camper Van and mine is a Motor Home. It is a great chance to escape, chill out and to catch up on reading. Short stories are good to dip into but whatever you chose, road trips and reading go hand in hand.
Recently yours truly, my husband and our dog Bonnie, took two mini breaks in our MoHo – the first was an overnight stay at the Cosawes site in Ponsanooth (mid Cornwall) and the second was at Tollgate Farm in the seaside town of Perranporth, where we stayed for two nights. Both were great places with good sized pitches and brilliant dog walks.
Neither are far from where we live but it was a chance to give the MoHo a much needed run out and to get a change of scene after months of lockdown.
On both occasions we struck lucky with the weather and at Ponsanooth we walked to the ‘Stag Hunt’ pub ( a bit of an uphill trot getting there but less onerous on the way back!). It was our first experience of eating out since January’s lockdown and the meal didn’t disappoint. The staff were friendly and the pub decor was reassuringly traditional – the local Treen’s beer was also good according to my other half who knows about these things!
On our first day in Perranporth, the sun came out big time and the beach was packed but the following day it was much quieter. After a decent walk – there are several local routes to choose from – we had lunch in the ‘Watering Hole’ restaurant/bar right on the beach. It took a while getting to grips with the pesky QR electronic ordering system (!) but our drinks and food arrived quickly – again the staff were delightful. Even managed to buy a couple of pairs of jaunty flip-flops which scream out ‘summer has arrived’!
Our next MoHo trip will be a two week tour of places ‘up country’ as they say here in Cornwall, including Somerset, the Cotswolds, Warwickshire, the Lake District and then into Wales. After months of going nowhere, we can’t wait
This is usually my cue to recommend a book but this time I’m going to give a mention to the fabulous butterflyboxes people who combine their love of books with special gift boxes. I stumbled upon them when I was looking for a family present with a bit of a difference and have since ordered several boxes. Having decided to donate half of all the proceeds from my short story book, ‘Shorts and Thoughts’, to the Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust Charity swbt.org – which gives help to frontline social workers experiencing hardship – I contacted butterflyboxes to see if we could do a special tie-in gift box for carers and those in the wider caring professions.
The answer was a yes!
This is the latest version of the box which includes a selection of teas, coffee, biscuits and of course the short stories book. Here is the link: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/903972491/ and they do a variety of other boxes which are well worth looking at.
That’s it for now – Slainte!