Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Guest post: Lazy? I don’t think so

By Samantha Stroh Bailey

I have always wanted to be a writer. So, when I was ten years old, I scribbled a story and proudly sent it off to a children’s publisher with the gentle help of my mom, who was an author publicist. Well, the rejection I got never deterred me, and I was unbelievably excited when my first novel landed me a New York City agent. In the four years I was represented, I wrote four novels.

But, as any chick lit writer knows, traditional publishing houses have pretty much stopped buying chick lit from debut authors (Red Dress Ink even stopped publishing altogether) unless it hints of the supernatural or is “high concept” enough to stand out on a very crowded women’s fiction shelf . I have never been quite sure what “high concept” meant, but it was clear to me that "Finding Lucas" was never going to find a home unless I made one myself.

Luckily, I decided to do it myself when self-publishing became a viable and more respected option. And I was astounded by the community of talented and determined chick lit authors who had also published their own clever, funny, poignant and relatable stories. Not only a writer, I am a voracious, and I’d like to think, discerning reader. Since joining the indie author world, I have discovered self-published writers who have made me laugh out loud, cry and stay up far too late devouring their books.

One of these amazing, self-published authors is Dina Silver, whose award-winning debut novel, "One Pink Line" is a favorite of mine, and she has certainly been an inspiration to me. Perusing her blog last week, I noticed an article she had posted and brilliantly commented on. As I read Sue Grafton’s opinion of self-publishing, I was deeply upset.

When did indie become synonymous with lazy? That boggles my mind. I have two kids and my own business, and I have never worked as hard as I have self-publishing and promoting "Finding Lucas." And every indie author knows exactly what I mean. We are both author and publicist and have to navigate social media on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis while tamping down our insecurities and fears to contact reviewers and bloggers.

When I was invited into this warm, welcoming and supportive community, I not only found friends who understand exactly what I’m going through but also discovered incredibly talented authors who believe in their art as passionately as I do.

We vent about our struggles, lament sales and celebrate each other’s successes. We promote each other on our blogs and tell our friends about each other’s books. Many of us have had agents, some have been traditionally published, and we all have the same dream and drive to make it real. And the books we have self-published are rarely our first. In fact, few of us, if any, slap together a book and assume we are going to get instant success. None of us is that naïve because we have been at this for far too long.

Indie authors have courage. We spend months re-writing, editing and planning exactly how our books should look. We might not be backed by a major corporation, but you can be sure that we have given our blood, sweat, tears and bank accounts to realize a lifelong dream. So, I thank the indie authors and reviewers, bloggers and readers who have taken a chance on those of us who found a place for our works of art by doing it all on our own.

After 15 years of teaching ESL to adults, Samantha Stroh Bailey has decided to live her dreams of being a fulltime writer and editor. Now the owner of Perfect Pen Communications, she not only gets to write novels, but also writes and edits for magazines, websites, businesses, students and other writers. Samantha also has a Master of Education in Applied Linguistics.  She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children and has just recently self-published her debut novel, "Finding Lucas." (Which is currently $2.99 for Kindle.) You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, as well as her blog.


Lucie Simone said...

Excellent post! I have never worked so hard in my life since opening my small press while holding down a demanding job and writing my own novels. Sue Grafton's statement reveals just how ignorant she is on the topic of self-publishing.

Tracie Banister said...

"Indie authors have courage." So true! Thank you for writing such a lovely, empowering ode to indie authors, Samantha! There is no harder working, more dedicated, more persistent, more resilient group of people, and I am proud to be amongst them.

Sibylla said...

Great post! Self-publishing is definitely not for the faint of heart that's for sure.

Unknown said...

You go girl:)!

Elizabeth Marx said...

Well said. When I read that article by Sue Grafton I knew she didn't have a clue what she was talking about the moment she said lazy. Being an Indie requires blood, sweat and tears!

Samantha Stroh Bailey said...

Thank you so much! I am so proud to be a part of the indie author community, and though I was quite nervous to write this, I wanted to express how hard we all work and say thank you in some way to everyone who has supported me. Thanks, Chick Lit Central, for letting me have my say!

Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks so much for this. I'm not self-published, but a lot of my favorite authors are. And you are so right that trad. publishing pretty much put a fatwa on chick lit, so if you wanted to read or write chick lit, indie was the only way.

Now that indies have proved chick lit sells, I see agents are again looking for "rom-coms" like "A Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing" and "the Nanny Diaries"--two of the titles that started the chick lit boom a decade ago.

Jackie Bouchard said...

Great post, Sam! I also saw Grafton's comments and thought they were not only uninformed but terribly ungracious.

I find it almost amusing that she calls us "lazy." It seems to me it's maybe also just a touch lazy to start a series based on the alphabet, so that you know you can re-use that same character 26 times. Just sayin'...

The awesome indie authors I've met on this journey are the least lazy writers I've ever met.

It would be nice if our sister authors (no matter how their works made it to the light of readership) would be supportive instead of trying to drag us down, but at least we have each other.

Like Tracie said, I'm proud to be part of our indie writer community!

Lorelei's Lit Lair said...

I truly admire you ladies for following your dreams and sharing your talents with the world! I try my best to spread the word and it's hard keeping up with you all, setting time to read your books, but I've been sucked into this world of romance and love it! Thank you and Never give up! You go, girls! Great post! ;)

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

awesome post! I'm very close to publishing a full-length after seeing so much success from Tracey, Dina and now seeing your book too! I've published an e-novella and have had an agent but ditched her for exactly the reasons you've written here! It's time for us all to support each other and do this thing! Thanks for your great words!

Unknown said...

Having done it both ways, I can tell you it's a whole lot easier to let someone else decide what your cover will look like, hire the cover artist, hire the editor(s)and all the other professionals it takes to get a book, electronic or otherwise, ready for sale.Since only the top shelf authors get publicists these days, I won't add marketing in. Seems we're all doing that ourselves now.

As a self-pubbed author I do that all myself now. Lazy? If this is lazy, I need to go back to a 9-5 job! I could use the down time!

BlackLabRVAdventures said...

Great insight. I too read Sue Grafton's interview and took just as much offense to the concept that "writing in a coffee shop looks like a form of exhibitionism." I write from a coffee shop almost daily and 99% of the people there have no idea what I'm doing unless we engage in a conversation, and even then they don't always know. The muse of a writer varies from individual to individual. Mine are bike rides and coffee shops.

The Book Chick said...

Two of my favourite authors are self-published (Talli Roland and Heather Wardell), and I have a deep respect for anyone who has chosen to go that route. Thanks for this thoughtful post!

Anonymous said...

Hugs to Tracie, Dina, Lorelei and everyone else who supports INDIE AUTHORS :) We know this is a 24/7 job. No downtime .... and we get the laundry done, the kids off to school, and dinner on the table ... all while managing our careers and following our dreams!

Thanks to Samantha for writing this post!

xx, Lauren

Kaira Rouda said...

Great post, Samantha!

I chose not to read Sue Grafton's statement - because, like you, I've found that most of the wonderful women writers I've met - online and in person - have been nothing but supportive of each other and of the many different paths to publishing available today.

There is nothing lazy about indie authors, or for that matter, authors in general. Anybody who follows her dreams and brings her passion to life through the written word to a sometimes critical, always angst provoking audience has the courage of a warrior - no matter how those words reach a reader.

Supporting other writers is the best, most wonderful aspect of this business. It's too bad some people just don't get it.