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Indie Authors Are Some of the Bravest People You Will Ever Know
by Gisela Hausmann
Up until about a decade ago, being an author or a self-published author was mostly about writing. Authors who did not have the means to self-publish, like Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Beatrix Potter, Mark Twain, and Virginia Woolf, found other creative solutions to get their name out.
They wrote short stories for newspapers and magazines to prove to potential publishers that people wanted to read their works. Others diligently pursued publishers, never mind how high the stack of rejection letters grew.
In those days, all authors’ activities were related to writing and/or pursuing publishing outlets, whether it was newspapers, magazines, or publishing houses. As always in life, the credo “Do not give up” was the name of the game.
In 1993, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen launched the first “Chicken Soup for the Soul”. To get a publisher to publish their book they gave speeches at churches and other venues where, famously, they invited attendees to sign commitment slips, stating that they would purchase a copy of the book once it would be published. In the wake of this and similar methods authors became speakers and tried to create a following via personal engagement. Businesses that taught authors how to become speakers and celebrities popped out of the ground. The downside of this approach was that these courses were incredibly expensive; the attendees paid celebrity fees even before they were celebrities.
About the same time, around the turn of the century, the Internet offered new opportunities. Independent authors could now create their own buzz on the web. I was lucky to be a part of this glorious time when I signed on with Amazon in 1998. In essence I spent my time in educators’ chat rooms, where I casually mentioned my alphabet book ‘obvious LETTERS’every now and then. All roads in this new type of “word-of-mouth”-universe led to Amazon, where at one point my book became the #1 bestselling alphabet book for preschoolers. Online shopping was still new and fascinating. Customers were excited to click the button on a mouse and two days later the book they had ordered arrived. Everybody was excited.
Unfortunately, the good times did not last for me; the famous NCLB law overpowered ‘indie’ educational publishers’ activities. I got stuck with a few hundred books; the fact that seemingly nobody liked NCLB did not make things better.
Still, I was excited that I had discovered a way I could market my books cheaply and be in total control of all steps. If one method proved to be wrong, I could change course. Today I feel about this time like people talk about the Sixties in Greenwich Village; a lot of awesome talent congregated at this new phenomenon called Amazon.com. ‘Indie authors’ could ‘feel’ that the old dogmas were about to change forever.
When Amazon came out with the Kindle in 2007, I thought about publishing books again. If I published ebooks I could never get stuck with books again. In 2012, I took the leap and published “Naked Determination, 41 Stories About Overcoming Fear.” As soon as I dove into the newly emerging world of indie-everything – indie-authors, indie-ebook formatters, cover designers, publishers – I realized that ‘Overcoming Fear’ was now indie publishing’s middle name.
Today’s indie authors are some of the bravest people you will ever meet – they overcome fears every single day:
- the fear that their work will be rejected,
- the fear of the 1-star review,
- the fear of having to learn new marketing skills,
- the fear of finding out that nobody cares, and of course
- the fear of walking a tough road, which nobody really needs to walk.
They are amazing people. Humble and shy writers, who’d rather spend time at their keyboards or attend a writing workshop, throw themselves out into the world, post pictures, tweet, blog and guest blog. They also set up supportive Facebook groups, organize their own writers’ meetings and conferences, and host Google+ Hangouts on Air, thereby exposing themselves to the public like never before.
I have met great-grandmas and great-grandpas, who learned about ebook formatting, cover design, minimum resolution requirements, online book parties and on and on, even though none of them had learned to spell the word ‘computer’ when they went to school.
My own great-grandparents did nothing of this kind. They crocheted baby clothes, grew roses, and played chess in the public park. I cannot imagine what they would have said if somebody told them that to do this or that, they would have to learn a whole lot of new technologies.
There are also the ‘young authors’, the kind of people, who in the Sixties might have participated in a hippie party, or two, or three. Today, they are discussing whether it is worth the money to get their book reviewed by one of the expensive professional review services or whether they should invest their meager marketing budgets into ads. These young writers are real entrepreneurs; none of them would bother painting their car with colorful peace signs, rainbows, or daisies.
Gone is the cliché of the lone writer, who, locked up at his retreat, barely speaks to anybody. Today’s indie authors are some of the most socially skilled professionals you will ever meet. They connect with local groups, speak at events – live as well as online, drive hours to do book signings at independent book stores (and back), connect with readers at Goodreads, and in between – write blogs and guest blogs, record videos for their own Youtube channels, and still find time to read the industry news. They are artists AND entrepreneurs.
And, with that, these indie authors are changing the world of books forever.
The PR businesses and coaching businesses of yore’s heydays are kind of over. Neither “Wool” nor “Fifty Shades of Grey” used any of these methods.
Today’s indie authors have realized that the most precious commodity and teacher is on their side – TIME.
It’s not all about writing any longer. It’s about connecting, getting feedback, learning, and moving forward. As long as indie authors keep trying, they can err over and over, till eventually they get it right. Maybe they’ll have to re-edit, re-package, connect with different people or on a different platform, but nothing can stop indie authors any longer.
Multi award-winning motivational indie author Gisela Hausmann published the following books under her own 'naked' brand.
- "NAKED WORDS: The Effective 157-Word Email"
- "Naked Truths About Getting Book Reviews"
- "Naked Determination, 41 Stories About Overcoming Fear"
- "Naked Elaboration: Our Time to 'Fix Things' Is Running Out"