It’s Called “Indie” for a Reason

This is my personal blog, so I figure that if I can’t share personal opinion here, I probably can’t do so anywhere (which may actually be the case! LOL)

Anyone who has been at this business for some time knows that indie publishing is a brutal career path. It’s one so full of inside competition, the promotion, marketing and brain racking truly never cease. Because we are in the public eye, we must for the most part keep our opinions to ourselves, and though our readers lift us back up again (thank goodness), there are times when we feel so trampled upon by the world, we resemble door mats and wonder whether we’ll ever be able to get the dirt off or see the bruises fade.

There are a plethora of support groups online for indie authors, which strengthens my argument that it is such a difficult job. Are there as many support groups for engineers or professors as there are for self-pub writers?

These support groups, in their very existence, hint at how tempting it is for writers to become friends with fellow indie authors because the empathy level is so high. We are sensitive creatures, which is one of the reasons we can write as we do. As sensitive individuals, we feel an inordinate amount of emotion, and this emotion in turn leads to said empathy. So we reach out.

And yet the very nature of an indie author dictates that she/he possesses a will so strong and a desire so intense, the competitiveness that is the natural byproduct of this strength of character will almost inevitably rear its head and take a chunk out of perceived author friendships.

I’ve seen this happen So. Many. Times.

On the broad scale, it turns support groups into platforms for indie authors to sell their wares. Posts go up by the handful about free book offers or requests for votes and higher rankings.

On an individual and more personal scale, it causes authors who thought they were close to one another turn on each other. The slightest slip, and a line is crossed. An idea is unwittingly stolen. A secret shared between authors becomes someone’s new promotional plan. A story reviewed by an author friend is a story torn apart by inappropriate editing, or worse – plagiarism. And the friendship dissolves and the authors part to try again somewhere else.

Over and over again. Support groups become sales pages. Friendships become competitions.

I’m not a pessimist, I promise. And it’s not that real and deep companionship is impossible between indie authors, especially if they write completely different genres (this helps immensely). It’s that because of who we are, there will almost always be that seed lying in wait inside of us, ready to be sprinkled by the watering can of jealousy and doubt. It’s simply in our natures.

This is why I was so incredibly disappointed by the outcome when I was recently asked to join another indie author group. It was going to be a small group, more exclusive, and hence perhaps different from the marketing, promoting, and sales-related sites that litter the online world these days. I had hope. I thought, “Can we actually be ourselves this time? Can we share how difficult and sometimes lonely this is? Will we finally have a place where we can speak our minds and relax and maybe talk about things like family life?”

But within twelve hours of its inception, the posts on this new group turned to “What is working promotion-wise, and what isn’t?” and “Let’s have a reader/review pool on this site so we can edit each others’ work!” and “I’m too busy trying to sell to just come to a site to talk.”

And so once more, I go my own author’s way.
And I thank my lucky stars that my closest friends prefer to read words rather than write them.

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2 Responses to It’s Called “Indie” for a Reason

  1. Aisling McCann says:

    That’s too bad. Maybe some rules ahead of time, written by and agreed upon by the members would help. When several people decide they need a certain type of group, the purpose often has to be stated or it’s easy to lose focus. Maybe you can try starting your own one day and meet for chats at times to be supportive. It’s harder to derail/take over a group when there are several people signed on at once and monitoring it, and everyone is mostly there for the same thing. Just a thought.

  2. Vladimir (@socialmediatry) says:

    Huh… I just realize that being an indie-author can be such a headache. ;D