One of the nice things about being an indie writer is the creative freedom. You don’t have to worry that a publisher (or all of the publishers) will reject your story because it doesn’t fit into some well-known, easily-marketable niche. The market you have is the market you create. The only limits are those imposed by your imagination and your skill with words. It’s really quite liberating.
Of course, it’s also really terrifying.
There’s no one to tell you no. There’s no one to stand in your way. There’s also no one to keep you from falling on your face, which is a fear most indie writers face with every book they release. Or, at least, I hope they do — I’d rather not be the only one. In any case, it’s a fear I confronted head-on when I wrote my most recent novel, Atticus for the Undead.
When I set out to write the book, the idea that it might not attract a large following didn’t bother me much. I didn’t have high expectations going into the project. Mostly I wrote it because the idea of putting a zombie on trial for eating brains tickled me, and also to give my brain a break between volumes of The Weaver Saga. (I try not to write two books in a row in the same world, to make sure I don’t burn out on that world.) In other words, I wrote it on a whim.
But as I settled down to the (frustrating, tiring, headache-inducing) business of writing, something happened: I fell in love with the story a little bit. Then a lot. I got four chapters into the writing before I realized that it was no longer acceptable to me for Atticus to sit quietly on Amazon’s e-shelves, collecting dust. But it was an urban-fantasy legal thriller. How was I supposed to market that? I wasn’t even sure a big marketing firm could market that.
I finished the book and sent it out to some review blogs, waiting on pins and needles for the results. To my shock, the reviews came back glowing — 4 and 5 stars across the board. Mentions were made of the book’s cross-genre appeal, which was my first glimmer of hope that I might be on to something. I had started the snowball rolling.
So I decided to keep it rolling. I offered the book to fellow authors and bloggers for free in exchange for their reviews. I didn’t discriminate based on gender, genre, or country — anyone who would read and review it, I sent it to. The reviews still came back glowing. People who were not fans of the paranormal praised the book anyway. People who dreaded legal fiction gushed about how much fun it was to read. I was definitely on to something. The snowball was getting bigger.
So now, here I am. I’ve got 21 reviews on Amazon’s American outlet, with an average rating above 4 stars. I’ve developed a community of friends among authors and book bloggers who are helping me to make Atticus a success. But promoting a book — any book — as an indie is still bringing the mountain to Mohammed.
If you’re still reading this, I’m hoping that means you have some interest in my little novel. I’m hoping it means you’ll take the chance those authors and bloggers I talked about took.
Let’s keep the snowball rolling.