The Sacred Oath of the Indie Author

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We do this thing because we love it.  Because we can’t not do it.  Because there’s a burning hole in our soul where our story resides and the only way we can put that fire out is to get it down onto the page.  Like hacking up a thorny, fiery, fur-ball.

And for some of us, that’s where the story ends.  For others, there’s more hacking and fiery fur-balls, and we examine the smoking pile we’ve barfed up onto the computer screen, and we decide: “Yeah, I want to share that with other people.  I don’t care if it looks like a pile of Friday-night vomit.  I’m publishing!  Go me!”

A few years ago, we’d have to find an agent, get a publisher, suffer through edits and meetings and, um, advances – actual money in the bank because a publisher has deemed our fiery fur-ball worthy of print.  In those days, self-publishing was a bit of a dirty word, and expensive.  We’d have to shell out our own money to get our work out there.  And then along came Amazon, and the world exploded.  Like, it literally exploded: earthquakes and tsunamis and meteors, oh my.

And like any explosion, there’s an aftermath.  You only have to read some of the self-pub stuff out there to see the debris: broken editing; collapsed storylines; the bloated bodies of dead character development.  All for 99p!

But there are some absolute gems out there, in the self-pub universe.  Hugh Howey is often lionised – he’s like, the Stephen King of self-pub, an icon to which to aspire and all that.  I’m pretty sure Hugh Howey didn’t barf up his fiery fur-ball on the first go and just press ‘send’.  No.  He probably let the smoke die down a bit first, poked through the ruins, chewed over the remains and then hurled up another, bigger, better fur-ball before he shared it with the world.

That’s where the discipline of the indie author comes into play.  It’s so tempting to write our tens of thousands of words; feel fantastic at the achievement; and then publish.  The discipline is in letting the fires of our fiery fur-ball die down first.  Put it in a drawer for a couple of months (start another story while we’re waiting).  Come back to it with a fresh eye, and take up the Red Pen.

This is where our writing becomes our craft.  And our Dear Readers deserve that.  Our stories deserve that.  As indie authors, we don’t have the luxury of a publisher or an agent helping us to craft the best story we can.  It’s up to us.  And that’s why indie authors should have a sacred oath, and it’s a simple and profound one:

Don’t be crap.

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