I posed three questions to indie authors in my last blog. Their focus is on the topic of connecting with readers as opposed to marketing or book production. I was going to pose them during Friday June 25th’s #LitChat discussion on Twitter as part of the INDIE AUTHOR SHOWCASE. The hour flew by so quickly I never got the chance. I’d like to pose them here on my blog and invite discussion.
Q1: Are there ways that an indie author can deliver a satisfying reading experience better than a trad pub? If so, what are they?
My Answer: I believe so. An indie author can boldly defy the standard boundaries of genre to follow a specific vision for a specific story. One reader described THE DARK PROVINCE: SON OF DUPRIN as a mix of three “themes.” She said its part fantasy, part religious fiction, and part erotica. I agree that all three of these elements have a significant presence while the literary theme of religion vs. faith is the primary engine that drives the story. In a standard market each of these subgenres have certain expectations. Marketing the book as any one of these individual elements could risk the creation of unrealistic expectations about the content. The promotional campaign then may require a more creative approach in which the author is more the face of the promotional campaign than is typical in today’s bookselling market. I don’t believe that a book must adhere to the sometimes narrow set of expectations, where it pertains to genre, in order to be a satisfying read. However, an indie author who is passionate and confident in their own unique work may be more motivated to overcome the obstacles of expectation and ultimately better deliver that read to booklovers.
Q2: In indie film, prod value is often sacrificed out of necessity. Does this happen in self pub and how does it affect the reader?
My Answer: I think this happens often to the detriment of the piece in the self pub world. Novels need developmental guidance that can come in the form of editorial evaluations, content editing, and proofreading. All of these services are best performed by professionals. There is generally a cost involved and at times the bulk of the cost of production. As well a compelling cover design, including back cover copy, is a critical part of providing the reader with the initial intrigue. Finally, a good printing company is needed to bring interior design, exterior design, and the author’s words to life. Skimping on these elements, particularly editorial, can adversely affect reader experience. I recommend indie authors do ample research to educate themselves about the choices. Those choices are many, and making the best decisions on where to invest time and resources will maximize reader satisfaction.
Q3: What are people going through or have they gone through that your book or writing will speak to?
My Answer: This is an answer to consider at any point in the creation of the novel. It really depends on the author. Many authors find it very distracting to think about the reader while writing. This is fine. I wrote THE DARK PROVINCE for me, though as I wrote I did allow myself the space to think: Perhaps there are readers out there who can love this like I do for similar reasons. Once I had completed the book and started working on marketing plans, I allowed myself to step back and take a fresh look on what types of ideas my book spoke to. Other artists who were familiar with the piece in its early stages helped me talk out how this book might connect. I discovered that the central theme of the book was religion vs. faith which is a hot topic in how many people see the world. Even the most loyal churchgoers will now say “I’m spiritual, not religious.” What does this mean? And how does it translate to life’s choices? THE DARK PROVINCE associates faith with something deeper than religious tradition and then rakes its main character over the coals as his loyalties to those traditions come under intense fire as he attempts to follow that faith. I’ve been through this personally. I believe that there are others who have also in perhaps other aspects of their lives. I believe that my book speaks very personally to those people who find this issue personally relevant.
How would you answer these questions?