You know when the threes start happening? You won’t have heard about her in months, but suddenly in one day three different people will be talking about Jessica Simpson — all three totally unrelated stories about her? Or you move through your day and see a picture of a Tessler on an advertisement on line, and then your best friends tells you her boyfriend just bought a Tessler, then on the way home you stop at a red light and guess what pulls up beside you? Yeah…
Willie Garvin, the fictional character in Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise novels, used to call this phenomenon The Flux.
It happened to me the other day. I had literally asked another writer friend of mine via email what I had thought was a rhetorical question: If legacy publishing is portrayed to be so self-serving (by its protractors) how does indie publishing serve readers any better?
I’ve answered this question before and in detail — the primary advantage of indie publishing is that anyone can publishing anything. That lets readers have access to all books anywhere, giving us freedom of choice in our reading matter, and an explosion of reading material the like of which we have never seen before.
But I was looking for more. I wanted something better than that, because most readers don’t find the avalanche of choices reassuring. They can actually find it off-putting, because they haven’t developed the tools and skills they need to sift through the mountain of titles to find the good stuff that exactly suits their tastes (and these are new skills we all need to acquire).
So what else does indie publishing offer?
The question I had posed was rhetorical, as I mentioned. I honestly hadn’t been expecting an answer. I had put it to the back of my mind to think about in the dark recesses. Sometime later, I knew, I would have to seriously consider the matter. But…later. I flipped over to my Google Reader to catch up on a few blogs I subscribe to. And that’s when the Flux slammed me.
1. I asked the question.
2. I visited School of Moxie where she was talking about her “Frugal Fabric Challenge”, which sounds innocent enough, but Mary Anne is part philosopher and gets you sucked in by the third paragraph. Then I clicked “next” and;
3. I read a post on Indie Chicks by Consuelo Saah Baehr, called “Food Insecurity“.
And I sat back for twenty minutes, after that, my head reeling.
Frugality and the Sensitive Mind
I’m particularly sensitized at the moment to anything related to finances and frugality because Mark and I filed for insolvency a few weeks ago, so there isn’t a euphemism with enough squeak in it to describe the pressure we’re under right now. So these two posts, right on the heels of my question were more than an interesting juxtaposition.
I sew in a my spare time (what I have of it). The money it saves makes it more than a hobby. When I see the fabulous dresses Amazon are selling for $900 USD, I want to throw up — especially when I know exactly how much fabric goes into them, and that I could buy that amount of fabric for about $50 CAD and a fairly similar pattern for $15.
Given a few night’s work, I could produce a dress of approximately the same appearance…I just don’t have the time, most of the time. Or the spare $65 to pay for the initial outlay. But sewing does save that much money.
When I or a member of my family has to have a dress, shirt, pants, bag, coat, curtains, rug, tablecloth, wrestling gear, bedsheets, quilt, whatever, we find a way to acquire the raw materials and go from there.
I have a fabric stash about eight feet wide and six feet tall. Half of it is cast off clothing that gets refashioned. (Jeans and teeshirts are an especial favourite of mine. In particular, I have a recipe for make teeshirts really, really soft, like designer teeshirts. Then I cut two or three of them up and sew them into designer tees.)
Frugal Is Not Cheap and It Isn’t Poor
Hence my reaction to these posts. I don’t consider myself poor. And I’ve never worried about food. I’ve never reached that point of desperation. I hope I never do.
But when I was writing full time and royalty cheques were being lost in the mail, and we were paying mortgage payments with a credit card (which is why, two years later, we filed for insolvency), there were days when I did feel sick with worry over how we were going to pay thenext mortgage payment and etc. But we always put food on the table first.
That there are people out there who have reached such a point where food is in question is awful.
We (all of us) do all these good deeds for third world countries and disaster relief work — and that’s great, but there’s poverty and disaster right at home, too.
What Indie Publishing Does
And that’s what indie publishing does. That’s the other thing. Well, things, actually.
1) It’s green. It doesn’t mow down trees for paper pulp. It doesn’t use toxic chemicals for ink. — unless the reader chooses to buy the paper version.
2) It’s cheap! Most indie authors sell their editions for under $3USD right down to $0.00. That makes indie published books highly accessible for low income readers, and encourages frugal reading habits.
3) A high proportion of indie authors are part of the Kindle Select program, which encourages lending and return of the title — an electronic version of recycling — which makes it virtually free for the reader.
If education is the magic bullet and literacy is the grand prize that opens the door, then surely, anything that encourages reading is a good thing? (And you can jump all over my mixed metaphors. Knock yourself out!)
While I would die at the thought of six year olds reading my adult romances, those same six year olds will absorb the image of their mothers pulled into a story and want to be sucked in by a book, too. Nothing teaches a kid better than a good example, and reading is catchy.
My Bit for Green, Sexy Indie Publishing
I’ve spoken about the price of indie titles before, but I’ve never focused upon it in isolation until now.
All my own Indie titles are $2.99 or less, except for one — Byzantine Heartbreak. I priced that one at $4.99 because it was over 400 pages in length. I was equating “labour” with “price”.
I don’t think that’s appropriate anymore. As of today, I’ve dropped the price to $2.99 at every retail outlet including Amazon.
Similarly, when Blood Stone is released, I will keep that price at $2.99, also, even though the book is currently sitting at well over 500 pages (in draft).
I’m also going to go through my old stash of out-of-print books and see what I can make freely available on my site and on Amazon. Stay tuned for those.
In this way, I will do my (very small) bit toward keeping books accessible and available. Fiction should be fun for everyone.