Wednesday, March 30, 2011

That "indie" thing

Pop up bookstore to appear in a shuttered Borders store in Pittsburgh.  If it wasn't for Top Chef, I don't think I would understand what a "pop up" business is.  This one will last for a minimum of a month.  I would totally go shop at one of these if it popped up in my state.  Oh, and you can ask the store to stock your indie book too.

You've probably heard about the ebook author Jacqueline Howett who freaked out, behaving like she was on Jerry Springer, not getting her self-published book reviewed.  It's been all over Twitter and used everywhere as a cautionary tale of how not to behave.  A friend sent me to this train wreck through Facebook.  I arrived, saw the first three comments and thought wow.  But then I kept reading, and the tragedy stretched on ... and on.  I was literally slack jawed by the time I finished reading.

What my writing friends are saying privately is that while we are fascinated by the potential of ebooks, we are terrified of going that route because of authors like Howett who bare the name "indie writer" and then throw tantrums in public.  Of course, actors can throw tantrums in public and that doesn't make other people not want to be actors--that just makes us think that Charlie Sheen's an ass and that someone should really give Lindsey Lohan a cheeseburger, not more crack.

What's up with that whole "indie" label anyway?  Indie bands sign with indie record labels. They tend not to release on their own (although they can).  But indie bands are cool.  Hip  And they've therefore made the term "indie" cool and hip.  That it's been co-opted by writers who are going DIY seems to be co-opting the cool without any of the work.  So if I repaint my kitchen, am I an indie decorator?  If I help my friend move into a new place and he pays me with a six-pack of beer am I an indie mover?  Indie contractor? 

Former agent and media-specialist Nathan Bransford, crunches the indie/legacy numbers in his Monday post of his author monetization week.  Essentially, if you can get your book picked up by legacy publishers, you'll make more money because they have better distribution and people are still buying paper books despite the growth of ebooks.  Oops, Barry Eisler; turning down a cool half-mill advance might be a great stunt but maybe not so great a monetary decision.  But Bransford is assuming that your book gets picked up at all.  Which means that all the un-pick-up-able books still get to be "indie" books.  Which doesn't feel very cool or hip.

Although it could be cool and hip if "indie" authors worked to push the envelope and write about topics that make the mainstream uneasy, or things that are experimental in form.

Highly Recommended