What Independence Means to Me (As An Author)

July 1st was Indie Pride Day to celebrate independent authors. Today is Independence Day in the U.S., a holiday that many of my neighbors like to celebrate by grilling in their backyards and setting off illegal fireworks. While I hide inside with my frightened cats, I thought I would take the time to reflect on what it means for me to be an independent, or self-published, author.

I’ve been a writer since I started dictating stories to my mom at age five, but I didn’t have as much interest in traditional publishing. I enjoyed sharing my stories with others but I liked to keep control over them. When the internet took off, I switched from swapping notebooks with friends to sharing on fanfic groups, but a few negative experiences led me to creating my own website for my writing so I had control. Meanwhile, I researched traditional publishing markets, but I was turned off by the heavily restricted contracts. I liked the internet’s freedom to connect directly with readers throughout the world, even though I wasn’t getting paid a cent. No one could tell me what to write or how my stories should be presented.
Three years ago, I finally took the plunge by self-publishing my first novel, Small Town Witch. I spent eighteen months preparing and did a lot of research before I uploaded that book, but I quickly found out how much I still had to learn. Even today, I spend a lot of my time learning about writing, editing, covers, marketing, and everything else that goes into publishing my own books. It’s a lot of work, and since it’s an always-changing world, there will always be new things to learn. I’m far from an expert, but I see that even the most successful and smart indie authors are constantly adjusting to keep up with the demands of readers, new technology, and different conditions on various ebook stores.
But I haven’t regretted one moment of this journey. I know that trying to do everything myself means I’m the only one to blame for my mistakes, but I like the process of trying new things and learning. I’ll never fail, because ebooks never have to go out of print and I can keep improving. I’m not a bestseller by any measure, but every book I put out is a little better than the last, and my sales are growing. Doing the work myself means that I also keep the largest share of the profits. And no one can make me do something that I don’t want.
Could it be easier if I’d been accepted by one of the big traditional publishing houses? Yes, but that’s no guarantee that my books would sell any more copies than they are right now, or that they’d be the same books at the end of the process. I know that my stories aren’t quite mainstream or have a wide enough appeal to sell millions of copies. I’m okay with that. I don’t need to be the next Hugh Howey or Andy Weir. But if there’s a hundred people out there who like my quirky stories, then I’m happy to find them. Independent publishing lets me share my stories with the readers who like them, so I’m proud to be part of this self-publishing movement. And I’m happy that I can also work with other authors like those here at the Independent Bookworm.
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About Kristen S. Walker

Fantasy author Kristen S. Walker dreams of being a pirate mermaid who can talk to sharks, but she settles for writing stories for teens and adults. Her new novel, A Flight of Marewings, tells the adventure of a duke's illegitimate daughter who must stop her father's murderers--by taming a dangerous monster. A Flight of Marewings is now available in print from Amazon and digitally from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. To read a sample chapter or check out Kristen's pirate pictures, please visit kristenwalker.net. You can talk good books, cats, or medieval cooking with Kristen anytime on Twitter (@KristenSWalker) or Facebook.

Posted on July 4, 2016, in about writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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