Saturday, May 16, 2015

Book Fests and such.

So, there was this big, semi-local Book Festival in recent weeks, and I couldn't help but drive past the big sign every day to and from work. I found myself gritting my teeth every time I saw the sign, a small ache pulsing in my chest until it disappeared from sight or I sang it away. I'd known about it, of course, since last year. I WANTED to be a book festivals, because the events I'd been frequenting hadn't been as successful for me in terms of book sales. Where better, then, but a Book Festival?
Except I wasn't going.
Many people have asked me in recent weeks if I was going to be at that Book Festival, or to tell me I should be a part of it.
Folks, I'm here to tell you why I'm not: I'M NOT A GOOD ENOUGH WRITER.
Now, the message is not worded exactly like that, but the Book Festival does not accept self-published authors... like me. 

Yes, I know I have a lot of books and other writing projects under my belt, but that doesn't matter. I'm an independent author - indie - and thus, excluded.
You see, there is a bias that exists against indie authors, in that our work is not as polished or free of typos as traditionally published books. There is a bias that says we just write whatever we want without much thought, load it online, and hit publish. There is a belief that we write shorter, sub-par books because there are no publishers willing to publish our work. And to be honest, for some indie writers, that is absolute truth. But it is also truth that there are books written by famous people that are absolute rubbish, but get picked up because of potential sales numbers associated with said famous person. AND there are books that are just plain bad that will become popular no matter anyone's opinion, because if people like a story, they'll ignore what might be considered unprofessional (like 50 Shades of Grey).
But I'll tell you my biggest reason for going indie: time. 

Next week, the first novel I ever completed will finally be coming out, after 8 books, several plays and scripts, papers, a movie, some comics... finally, it will be out. Is it because it just wasn't good? No. It's because I sent it out to the big publishers to try and get picked up. After three years (and only 2 rejections), I decided I didn't want to put all that work into a book only to wait up to 2 years to get a rejection before sending it out again - all without getting paid. Because - and perhaps this comes as a surprise - I want to get paid for the hundreds of hours I've spent crafting one single book. I want to pay my bills and buy groceries and go hang out with my friends. And if that makes me greedy, fine. But I decided to go indie because I didn't want to wait years before seeing a penny for my work.
There are, of course, many other reasons. After all, going indie is not necessarily the cheaper option. Most places I sell my books at charge me a fee to do so. I pay to buy my books up front. I pay to promote and advertise. I work long hours so that I can continue to hone my craft, squeezing it in-between the work I do just so I can survive. Though on a side note, many authors who get picked up by a publisher will likely have to do his or her own marketing anyway, because publishing houses are accepting less risks than ever before.
Being any kind of author is hard. Eeking a living out of it is hard. So when the Book Festival told me I could go to the festival if I paid a $275 table fee, or $137.50 for half a table for a one-day event, you know what? I told them no. I can't afford to be at the very festival my audience lives and breathes for. I can't pay for the table costs, and the books and comics it would cost just to break even, while hoping I sell above that to make a profit. So for those of you who read to the bottom of this, let me answer one final time. Why didn't I go to the San Antonio Book Festival? BECAUSE I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH, & I CAN'T AFFORD IT.
PS Because of this, I'm organizing the 1st Annual San Antonio Indie Book Fest for any and all indie authors, because I think we deserve a venue in this town. More on that soon.


In the end, it's up to the audience to decide who they will and will not read.

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