Twitter, my favorite social network, I can’t explain why but I love it so much! I rarely check Facebook nowadays. I do have a “like page” on Facebook for this website/blog, everything I post here automatically publishes to FB, but I don’t go there and I don’t even have the link displayed anywhere on this J. D. R. Writes site.
Sometimes I go and explore social media randomly and find news, trending topics, and thoughts from other users. This time I came across a tweet that got my attention, and not because it was popular or had a lot of numbers, but it reminded me a lot of conversations I had in Juarez with friends and acquaintances about the independent movement.
This is the tweet, by Nicole Tone.
It is incredible to read this years after having all these conversations about the indie scene. Back in 2012 I had a few discussions about artists and the new platforms in which they could have their work published; thanks to the internet many doors have opened for content creators. Blogs, YouTube videos, among other platforms are there, waiting on the web for anyone to take advantage.
The problem that I had back then, is that in my country the support to artists that weren’t on TV or radio 24/7 is from little to none. The first thought people adopted was that “if isn’t on TV or isn’t famous, then it automatically sucks.” And well, we already have a whole different idea about the TV nowadays, right?
Same music all day all night
To me, it was frustrating to look at bands playing in bars amazing music with no payment at all, and no support from the crowd, those bands were basically just a background sound. And the people that went to those music bars, only wanted to listen to covers. New covers, no! They wanted to listen to the so-called “classics” Spanish rock bands like Maná, Caifanes, and Fobia. Same when they played English music–Metallica, Nirvana, Radiohead, and the most popular songs from the 80s and 90s.
Remember, “if it wasn’t on the radio, it isn’t good. So don’t even bother about playing original songs.” Still angers me to hear this.
Many books to read, people stalled based on a false self-proclaimed intellectualism
Literature is a beautiful art that is difficult to appreciate, and it’s usually misjudged by those who don’t even take the time to actually read something.
Why is it difficult to appreciate? Maybe it sounds like I am exaggerating things here, but let’s think about it: when you listen to your favorite songs, you can do it anywhere, and it takes one button to start appreciating it, or just making it your companion while you relax, work, exercise, or want to fully listen to it. An illustration, a painting, photography, or any visual art, they have the advantage that the image is there for you to watch; you might look at the colors and figures and come up with different meanings, for your eyes a red and blue means one thing, and for my eyes the same colors have something completely different to tell; it is a matter of perspective, even when you just want to appreciate the beauty of the painted landscape or human body.
Literary works, though, are a different story. You have pages among pages with only text on them. And the same amount of attention is needed, whether you want to read a fiction novel or a philosophy book. Yes, the philosophy book is heavier than the fiction novel, but to get inside the story or the thoughts of the author, you have to read every single word on every single page. Now, imagine yourself, tired from work, or doing your homework, cleaning your home, or walking around—try to pick a book while you do one of the mentioned activities. It won’t be comfortable. Sure, we have audiobooks, and they totally rock; but they also have a problem: you need to pay attention to every word—the author might be in the middle of a description of a fantasy world, but you ended up distracted by other thoughts, maybe thinking you forgot something. If that happens, you have to rewind a little, and that’s also a distraction.
I am ashamed to admit that a majority in my country, Mexico, don’t have the habit to read. I don’t really feel that it’s a huge problem if your interest is not focused on literature. The problem begins when the few people that read, they have a focus on the classics—it’d be nice if it was just that. No, they aggressively bring the classics as an intellectual self-proclamation. And this is exactly the issue here, which is so alike to the time when some thought that “if it is not well-known, it sucks,” but this goes to a next level: “if it isn’t a well-known classic that was written for one the greatest minds in [whatever] century, then it sucks!” or the worst of the worst: “there aren’t good Mexican writers.” Yeah, because I am sure they, at least, had tried to give an opportunity to many writers, Mexican or not. I’ll write a full post about my fellow Mexicans and their thoughts on literature in the future—for now I’ll get a general overview of the indie authors.
Indie works matter?
Of course. And nowadays indie works get more appreciation than they did a few years ago. Even people have a better reception of others that talk about independent musicians, and not to mention independent movies. Some independent movies are more likely to be categorized in the Art sections. This is indeed revolutionary, with the internet and all the information that’s there, anyone with a certain amount of funds (at least for a good recording equipment) has the chance to do something. Same applies to music, of course.
Literature, again, is another story.
Dear indie writer
I know your struggle. It is even hard for people to pick a book that is not on the best seller section of your favorite bookstore. And it is hard to get information about a book because our only guide is a synopsis on the back and a few reviewers on YouTube and blogs (and they rarely cover an indie book); don’t forget that the majority of these booktubers and book bloggers are small, they don’t get many followers as I believe they should. I understand, though, that is not so entertaining to watch/read them, they don’t have many visual aids. When youtubers talk about games or movies, they can borrow clips (though I believe they have more restriction to take clips from movies), or post photos and speak about it and make memes out of the images. Booktubers, well, they can quote a few things and speak about it or joke, but it isn’t as appealing as a photo, don’t you think?
There are a lot of independent platforms to self-publish, Amazon KDP being one of the most relevant, and it is as cheap as you want or as expensive as you want (one doesn’t mean better than the other).
Talk about low budget
Some writers only care about writing a story. A book shouldn’t be judged by its cover. Unfortunately, the cover is the presentation, the first thing a customer is going to see when exploring a bookstore or any online retailer. If someone is looking for new books, I am sure that they’ll ignore the books with a cover with just a title and its author. So the first recommendation, and I believe anyone would say the same, is that you commission a cover that makes it attractive for a potential customer. Or if the author is also an illustrator, you’re great!
Editing. One thing that many aspiring authors ask is if it’s enough read and re-read your book to edit it by yourself, and that’s a HUGE NO! Yes, if you want to write, you have to read and re-read your own work and polish it as many times as you like. However, YOUR editing, not matter how many times you change and edit it, that’d be just the FIRST RECOMMENDED step. Just take in account that it’s harder to detect our own mistakes, and this is a reality. A second, and maybe a third, person is recommended, too, in order to find other mistakes you didn’t even consider. This could be a bit tricky, though, because if you choose a family member or any friend to help you edit, then they might go soft on you and won’t even tell you a good critique to avoid any conflict or hurt feelings. The problem is, that if you get a customer and the work isn’t too well-polished (there’s not a perfect piece of art, so don’t look for perfection either), could mean a one-star review (even it your work doesn’t deserve that low review), and the greatest problem with this, is that most people don’t even read the reviews—the moment they see the one-star review, they’ll just pass. Extremes aren’t good, and I know many one-star reviews are there just because that customer didn’t like the book.
Indeed, maybe a book is the cheapest art to make, but as cheap as it might be, the effort put in a good story, characters, world-building, and even a small thing as a synopsis, is big and tiring. And maybe sometimes with the risk of getting nothing in return. it is discouraging.
Whenever you see an author, give him/her an opportunity. There are a lot of independent authors with digital books for less than four dollars (of free if you have Kindle Unlimited), or other authors that have their book completely free on Amazon, just building a fan base and looking for reviews. Or bloggers that just write their own stories for free.
Have a look, write them a nice comment. And sharing is caring!
Feel free to tell me your opinion on indie authors, or artists in general. Do you have any blog or book available on Amazon?
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Thank you for your time.