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Indie and self-published authors matter yet are often ignored as viable players in the publishing industry. We matter to the big publishers and retailers because we are groundbreakers, innovators, creators and consumers. From our ranks you will find the next Hugh Howey and Amanda Hocking.  We matter to readers because from our books they will find their next favorite author and can’t-put-down series.

Yet, it is nearly impossible as an independent or self-published author to get our books into a Barnes & Noble store, even if we offer the maximum discount and the books are returnable. Some independent bookstores even refuse to stock our books. We seem to be given no thought in the current battle of the Goliaths, Amazon vs. Hachette Book Group, and in the mergers of the big six (now down to five, soon to be four?).

But we matter because we are the backbone of the publishing industry. We are old and young, workers and retirees, rich and poor, and we are readers. We write in all genres, and in different voices.  We write really good books and some really bad ones too. While we are making the publishing industry stronger by creating (mostly) friendly competition, by giving readers more choices, and by creating new genres (fan fiction anyone), we are also buying books. We matter because we know what this is really about: creating enticing fiction and non-fiction that pleases readers.

We matter because we are the brick and mortar of the publishing industry. Without us, Amazon wouldn’t have a market to play hardball with Hachette. Without us, traditional publishers and agents wouldn’t be culling Amazon to discover the next successful indie or self-published author to lure to the traditional publishing world.

Eliminate the farm workers and there’d be no tomatoes and cucumbers at our supermarkets. Remove the 12th man from the Seattle Seahawks and perhaps they would not have won the Super Bowl. Do away with independent authors and self-pubbers and say good-bye to diversity in our reading choices.

We’ve already had a world where readers were limited to authors chosen by a few publishers, and from that world the indie and self-published movements began.

For the most part our novels do not sell like Jodi Picoult’s, and it’s unlikely our books will be made into movies like Divergent and The Fault of Our Stars. However, from our ranks will come the next big thing.

Most of us who are indie and self-published authors work hard at our day jobs, write diligently when we have the time, and gather to discuss our writing and the industry. Many hold the hope that one of the big publishers will pick them up. I hope it happens. I really do. But for those that it happens for, and for those who have already made the leap from the indie to the traditional world, I hope they never forget their publishing roots.

And to the bookstores and the large and mid-sized publishing houses, don’t discount indie and self-published authors. Listen to the people who make your bottom line: the readers. They already know what you have yet to learn: we matter.

joanne lewis

When Joanne Lewis is not practicing law, she is writing. She pens murder mysteries, historical fiction and historical fantasy books and is the author of several award-winning novels. As an author, she hopes to entertain, to educate, and perhaps to enlighten. As an attorney, she is most proud of her work as an assistant state attorney and as a guardian ad litem representing the best interests of children.

Her books are available on Kindle, as paperbacks, and as audio books.

Her latest release is Bee King, a historical novel that is about the first person in the United States diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and takes place from the start of the Civil War until 1910. Just like the people who inhabited Five Points in lower Manhattan during the 1800s and the turn of the century, Bee King traverses the pentagonal streets where abolitionists battled copperheads, immigrants clashed among social, religious and political strife, and doctors and psychologists strained to help patients. Told in Five Points (sections), Bee King is dramatized through conventional literary devices as well as through newspaper articles, a manifesto, and other non-traditional tools.

The Forbidden trilogy consists of the novels: Forbidden Room, Forbidden Night, and Forbidden Horses. Forbidden Room is her best-selling novel.

In Forbidden Room, the first book in the Forbidden trilogy, new attorney Michael Tucker has few clients, yearns to be like his famous grandmother and cannot afford to move out of his parents' home. Sara Goldstein is an heiress accused of killing her uncle. When Sara hires Michael, he gets the chance to defend an innocent person, a beautiful lover and notoriety like his grandmother. But is it more than he asked for? Is Sara innocent or is she a murderer?

Forbidden Night, the second book in the Forbidden trilogy, delves further into Michael and Sara’s complicated relationship, as well as into Soldier Boy’s psyche, into their family histories, and into the creation of the carousel horses. The question posed in Forbidden Room, the first book of the Forbidden trilogy—Is Sara innocent or is she a murderer—is answered.

Forbidden Horses, the final book in the Forbidden trilogy, travels to the eighteenth century and takes place in Austria to reveal the troubled history of the creation of the carousel horses.

Michelangelo & Me is a series of five novellas in the genre of historical fantasy.

In the first book of the series, Michelangelo & the Morgue, seventeen-year-old Michelangelo defies religious and political powers in order to capture a serial killer who is murdering the artists of Florence. In Sleeping Cupid, the second book, Michelangelo’s believed-to-be lost statue narrates his journey from fifteenth century Florence, Italy until the present day where he lives in an attic in a sleepy Florida town. Future books in the anthology include Space Between, School of the World and Michelangelo & Me.

The Lantern is a historical novel about a modern-day woman's search to find a girl from 15th century Florence, Italy who dared to enter the competition to build the lantern on top of Brunelleschi's dome. Across time and space, three lives collide as they battle abuse, disease, fear and prejudice in pursuit of their dreams. Along the way, they intersect with some of the most famous figures of the Renaissance including members of the Medici, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello and a young Michelangelo.

Wicked Good, a different kind of love story, begins in Bangor, Maine. Fifteen-year-old Rory is not defined by his diagnoses of Asperger's syndrome and Bipolar Disorder and lives life to the fullest. Archer, his adoptive mother, is Rory's biggest fan. Rory searches for his birth parents to find out why he is the way he is. He discovers his roots in Salem, Massachusetts where the Salem Witch Trials had occurred, and in Gloucester, Massachusetts where fishermen went down with the Andrea Gail during the Perfect Storm. He also learns his true roots are closest to his home in Bangor. As Rory discovers truths about himself, Archer learns about herself too.

Make Your Own Luck is the unforgettable and moving novel of Remy Summer Woods, a young attorney who refuses to believe thirteen-year-old Bonita Pickney killed her father, Patrick Pickney. Remy risks her relationship with her own father as well as her life to prove Bonita's innocence. Along with learning what happened the night Patrick was murdered, Remy discovers hard truths about her family and herself.

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