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Why Do Indie Authors Matter?

This month, over three hundred libraries across the country celebrated Indie Author Day. (Missed it? You can watch the webinar on YouTube.) Next year, we hope the event will be even bigger!

The path of an Indie author is a difficult one. It’s hard enough to write a good book, let alone be your own publisher and marketer. One of the webinar panelists said it best: being an Indie author is “a marathon, not a sprint.” It’s wonderful to see so many libraries support Indie authors, but there are challenges here as well. Curating and distributing Indie books is tricky, and many libraries aren’t sure where to start. So, if there are so many problems, why do we all bother? Why do Indie authors matter?

I could give a lot of answers to this, but I’d like to focus on two specific reasons. The first is something many of us have realized by now: traditional publishing is limited. It’s limited in the kinds of stories it chooses to tell and how it tells them. Human beings are storytellers, and everyone has a story they want to tell in their own words, in their own way. Indie publishing opens doors for people who otherwise wouldn’t have a voice. Maybe they write genres that aren’t popular, like poetry, or maybe their ideas are outside the mainstream opinion. Whatever they case, now they have a chance to publish anyways, and we have a chance to listen to voices that wouldn’t otherwise be heard.

The second reason has to do with community. I’ve written about why community is important to writers before, and I’ll reiterate it here. Writers work best when they support one another, and when they have the support of their local communities. A panelist from SELF-e gave this advice to aspiring Indie authors: they should “build from the bottom up” in their own communities and learn from other Indie authors.

Indie Author Day is a reminder to support “the author you know,” the one who lives on your street and writes in your neighborhood coffee shop. These writers often meet at their local libraries, and those libraries want to carry the books that were written within their own walls. Seeing Indie authors succeed is also an inspiration for aspiring writers, a reminder that authors aren’t necessarily celebrity figures in New York city, but ordinary people just like themselves. For readers, choosing an Indie book over a mainstream one can be a chance to learn more about their town and the people in it. It’s an opportunity to hear the opinions of other people in your community and maybe answer back, whether in person or through a review in your local newspaper; it’s a way to start conversations.

Reading local matters. Indie authors matter. Next year, I’m sure we can do even more for Indie Author Day and celebrate the voices of the authors we know.

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