Indie authors are tough. Indie authors have grown a natural armour. Indie authors are immune to criticism attacks – those at least who have stepped over the shock of publishing the first book and went on publishing more. Indie authors are used to many things that are hurtful, disappointing, and generally soul-destroying.
There is one thing, though, that indie authors can’t easily brush away. And this thing is a disregard to the worth of their work.
If a person does something creative, he/she is expected to succeed in these endeavours financially. If he/she doesn’t, it is considered a loss of time. And if you say that the process of creativity is a value in itself, people look at you with that condescending smile on their faces as if saying: “Yes, yes, all losers in the world say that.”
I rarely tell the people I know about my writing. First of all, they don’t read. By that, I mean that books don’t take a significant part in their lives. They’d read some bestselling, much-talked-about book or a crime/romance novel to take on vacation with them, but they wouldn’t read a book solely because it was written by someone they know. You know the deal – it says: sorry, no time. And I am okay with that. I’ve always been a weird one, an outcast. What can I say – even my best friend from my teenage years broke our friendship, having taken offense that more often than not I was reading after school and not going for a walk with her…
And the second reason I don’t talk about my books whenever I get a chance is that on those rare occasions when I did, the only question I received was: “Do you earn any money by publishing?” When I answer that I invest more than I earn, the dialogue stops. And we start discussing more important issues.
Dear Diary, don’t think that I don’t understand. I do. I really do. And I don’t take offense. There is nothing to get offended about. People, who aren’t interested in books – who aren’t obsessed with them like me – can’t be interested in the book written by you. It’s simple and straightforward. And I won’t try to deny that I’m not interested in some things other people have a great interest in.
Still, the bottom line is that it hurts. It hurts every time you hear that dismissive tone or see those empty eyes – void of any interest in something that makes the blood run faster through your veins. In something that – and I’m not afraid to sound overly dramatic – helps you climb out of bed every morning and feel the energy to go through yet another day.
True, people might not realise what your writing means to you. And it’s a blessing when you have at least one person who does in your life.
I always feel sad when I read advice on how to promote your books. Even the “top”-resources mention “support from friends and family” among the first points in their lists. In all fairness, my family does support me. And, in my case, it means that my husband supports me. I’m struggling, dear Diary, how to put it into words, so they don’t sound overly dramatic again. I guess there isn’t a way to say that all your family members are in a better world that would make it sound cheerful and easy.
To write a book is a huge accomplishment. I remind myself about it every time someone makes me feel like it’s nothing. From time to time, I hear something like “Nowadays everyone is a writer”. And again, it takes a lot not to feel discouraged and worthless. The indie author’s life is hard enough to add a struggle with self-doubt to it.
Why do indie authors continue writing and publishing? No one has answered that question better than Maya Angelou. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you,” she said. And these words say it all.
If you are a writer, it is incomparably more terrifying not to write than to be criticized for your writing. If you have stories to tell, nothing feels better than to see them out in the world. And then, when you don’t expect it, when you don’t offer your books for free or with a huge discount that is almost the same as offering them for free, you receive a 5-star rating and a glowing review – even if it’s only a few words or one word, but you feel that the reader has truly connected with your book – and in such moments, you know why. At that moment, it doesn’t matter that you don’t have those reviews flowing in hundreds. At that moment, you know that your writing has made a difference. There is a whole universe in every single person, and if you made even one reader feel something, you have changed the world.