5 Reasons why Community is Critical for Indie Authors and Self-Publishers
Indie authors and self-publishers are the free souls who make their creative mark on the world beyond the mainstream mega-structures that typically dominate commercial publishing. Creative independence is all about going it alone – being autononomous and not relying on anyone but yourself for driving and defining your ultimate success.
Or is it?
While indie artists typically eschew the corporate players and mainstream industry machines of major publishing houses, film studios and record companies, their idependence doesn’t mean that they must walk their creative journey completely alone.
One of my favourite things about being an indie author is the support, inspiration and motivation I share with the wider indie community – a community made up of other writers (indie and otherwise), editors, readers and lovers of progressive culture. Being part of this community is not only good for the warm and fuzzies it provides, but is also critical for ongoing indie author and self-publisher success.
Here are my top five reasons for developing, engaging with and participating in authentic indie communities.
1. They offer resources, advice and assistance – for free!
Unlike the corporate structures of the mainstream, where value can only be accessed via healthy bank balances, the indie world is full of like-minded souls who share important insights because they love what they do and want to inspire others to do what they love.
Key Example: CreativINDIE – offering regular posts and a collection of free e-books to help authors, artists and entrepreneurs.
Honourable Mention: WordPress – an amazing collective of bloggers who share their art, advice, observations and experience. For Free.
2. They keep you committed and accountable
Working in isolation, away from the deadlines and expectations seen in the corporate world, can make us lazy. Without the watchful eyes of others keeping track on our progress and judging our efforts, we can resort to half-hearted efforts and find ourselves going days (weeks or months) without generating output. Being a member of an indie community changes that – it encourages frequent and high-quality content through positive comments, likes, retweets, subscriptions, followings, recognition, re-posting, and public celebrations of success.
Key Example: #JulyWritingChallenge twitter group – a collection of writers who commit to writing 500 words a day for an entire month and to encouraging and celebrating the success of other members.
Honourable Mention: Nanowrimo – the annual novel writing month that challenges and motivated writers to pen 50,000 words of a new novel during the month of November.
3. They provide a safe environment for sharing works in development
For indie writers and self-publishers stepping out in the commercial world without the assurances and validation of the corporate/mainstream experts, letting go of a manuscript and subjecting it to the whims of the masses can be terrifying. But it doesn’t have to be. Indie communities are full of supportive readers and contemporaries who want to read your efforts and help you elevate them to a more polished product.
Key Example: Scribophile – an online writing group where peers read and critique each other’s work using a karma points system.
Honourable Mention: Writers Carnival – an online writing community where writers can receive supportive and constructive feedback on their works.
4. They challenge your understanding and appreciation of your discipline
Writing communities are passionate – The internet is full of online forums that overflow with discussion, debate and deconstruction of anything and everything to do with writing. Comments and analysis are infused with enthusiasm and a real desire to get under the skin and really know this thing we call writing. With each discussion – of narrative structures, writing techniques, classic texts and ingenious innovations – comes a new perspective from which to view your own writing.
Key Example: Goodreads – an online community that not only reviews books, but also engages in meaningful (and entertaining) dialogue about why they are loved or hated.
Honourable Mention: BookLikes – an online social community that fuses book reviews with unique blog discussions.
5. They remind you that you are part of a bigger movement
Being part of a community, at its core, is all about belonging. It is where you find familiarity in the same desires, challenges, beliefs and dreams as like-minded people who share your passion and your journey. Being part of the indie community is an opportunity to be part of a creative collective that wants to change, inspire and engage the world – one word at a time.
Key Example: the #amwriting twitter hashtag – the collective online voice of thousands of writers sharing their everyday experiences in crafting words and works of literature.
Honourable Mention: Wattpad – the world’s largest community of readers and writers, where members publish, read and discuss books of all types and genres.
Share your own recommendations about indie communities in the comments!
Mikhaeyla Kopievsky is a first-time, independent author of speculative fiction. She is currently drafting the first book of her Divided Elements series, a dystopian sci-fi that sees Anaiya 234, a dedicated Fire Elemental, undergo an identity realignment to hunt down a resistance group threatening to destabilise the ordered society of Otpor.
When Mikhaeyla is not working on her novel, she is blogging about observations and lessons on writing compelling fiction at [w]rite of passage.
Stop Just Going Through the Motions in 2016January 1st, 2016
Does Your Novel Have “It”?August 24th, 2014
Why You Should Design Your Book Cover Before You Write Your BookAugust 17th, 2014
How Many Editors Does it Take to Edit a Book?July 15th, 2014