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).
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.