It has been a long month without Royalene here to anchor the blog on Fridays–she’ll be back next week!–and it turns out her absence has given me a lot to think about in terms of the importance of personal witness and testimony within the modern self-publishing tradition.
I think it’s more vital than, say, something similar within the traditional publishing industry. Authors who pursue a traditional publication route face many challenges, there’s no denying it, but their challenges take place within the protective sphere of a guaranteed team of editors, designers, publishers, marketers, and other experts who happen to have a stake in making sure any given author they publish sells a lot of books. Their challenges also take place within a massive literary tradition that has been defended–and eloquently, at that–by other authors for centuries, and will continue to be defended by other authors for as long as the institution lasts.
Self-publishers don’t have this tradition at their backs, and they certainly don’t have teams of assistants on hand to make sure they’re striking the right tone at this or that interview or that they’re appearing at the right venues for maximum impact. Self-publishers may opt to pay for some of these services, now that the market has diversified, but their default experience takes place in a vacuum. If they’re very lucky, they’ll have access to other indie authors who have gone before or are coming up alongside them, but they don’t have centuries and centuries of precedents to follow. When it comes to modern self-publishing, they may have a couple of decades’ worth of a pattern to analyze, but few enough of those who went before had voices that resonate the same way that, say, traditionally published authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald or John Krakauer (to name two random names in a million) have.
This is why conversations with other self-publishing authors, like Royalene, are so important. Each conversation serves to chip away at the wall between an indie author and the comforts of community and tradition. Conversations are what set us apart from traditionally published authors–we have the option to speak for ourselves, unfiltered and in perfect honesty, about whatever we please without repercussions or sanctions–and what unite us.
I, for one, can’t wait for September and Royalene’s return. She and other voices like her make our lives–and our work–better.♠
ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com