At the end of 2012, I mentally perused the books I’d read in the previous twelve months and realized that except for revisiting Anna Karenina and enjoying The Maltese Falcon as part of my community’s Big Reads program, not a single traditionally published title sat among them. That was quite a revelation for this bookworm who once got herself kicked out of a library at closing time and feels a magnetic attraction toward bookstores.
Looking back at 2013, all I can say is, “Oops, I did it again.” Out of my ginormous TBR list, I’ve read only two trad-pubbed books this year: one, a book by Darcie Chan, who had been an indie author; and two, David Levithan’s marvelous YA novel, Two Boys Kissing, which I picked up at BEA and couldn’t stop reading.
Why do I gravitate toward indie books, you ask?
- Indie authors take more risks. You probably aren’t going to see some of the innovative, genre-bending stories I’ve read this year in too many big-box bookstores. YA magic realism about bullying? A coming-of-age-romantic-thriller? Paranormal rock-star detective romance? Speculative urban fiction rife with bickering gods and goddesses? Some might complain that this means readers, used to shelves and categories, will have a harder time finding your book if it’s not planted square in a recognizable slot. And maybe that’s true, to some extent. But word of mouth spreads pretty fast, too.
- I like supporting indie authors…and did so even before I became one. Yes, thanks mainly to Amazon and Smashwords, anyone can publish a book these days. Some…well, could use a smidge of editing. Some could use a lot of editing. Some, though, are utterly jaw-dropping. That’s one of the reasons I read…to find those. I also like supporting my fellow authors. I’ve heard authors scold each other for talking up their books in Facebook groups (the ones that allow such things) because “other authors aren’t your market.” Um…authors read. At least this one does. I don’t review everything I read, but sometimes I do, and if I love a story, I’ll tell my friends. If not for popping into Facebook groups, I never would have heard about what are now some of my favorite books.
- My book budget is small, but I can buy a great story for about what I’d spend on a mezzo-soprano-caramel-flippacino. Guess which one lasts longer and has fewer calories?
- I’m a really slow reader and libraries don’t like that. When Ian McEwan’s Solar came out a few years back, I added my name to the Marion the Librarian’s waiting list. Finally, finally, my inter-library loan copy arrived, but I was only allowed to have it for a week. No renewals. One of these days I’ll grab a copy to see how it ends.
- Indie authors are more accessible. If I love a story, I can tell the author. I usually get a response, instead of a canned auto-message to contact him or her through a particular publisher or agent and then hardly ever getting a reply. If I have a question about a particular author’s writing, I can hop on their FaceTwit page and ask. So far I have not gotten a restraining order, and that’s a good thing.
- It just feels good. To me, buying an indie author’s book is like buying from the guys down the block instead of at the mall. Like paying at the door to see a band from the neighborhood. A larger percentage of the pie ends up in the pockets of hard-working artists, and that warms my little heart.
Happy reading and happy holidays!