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.