In the #Twitterverse, the month of April is known as #IndieAuthorApril.
This month the #WritingCommunity endeavour to promote the Independent Authors amongst us.
Obviously as an Indie Author myself, I’m all in for this particular celebration.

So, why did I choose Indie?

There are dozens of reasons why an author chooses to go Indie rather than pursue the traditional publishing model.
I could talk about how the Querying process is a chore, or how long the process takes, or how your profit share is reduced, or how unless you’re a BIG name in the industry you’ll not get much marketing help anyway… 

But for me, the biggest advantage of going Indie was

CREATIVE CONTROL.

I had a very specific vision for ‘Hunters’. The story, the arc, the cover art…
If I’d gone traditional, I’d likely have had little say over all those details and, as I’ve said before in other blog posts, my reason for putting my books out into the world is more about LEGACY than it is about money or success.
I want to put something out into the world that will outlive me. And I want it to be something I’m proud of. Something that represents me, who I am and what my vision was.
It’s not been an easy path, and in many respects I’m still trying to figure out quite a lot on the road I’m travelling.

But…

And I’m going to say this for ALL the writers who want to follow in my footsteps (I’m looking at you Steve!)… IT IS SOOOOOO WORTH IT!

When you hold that first proof copy of that book in your hands and know that it is the result of YOUR work. That you made no compromises, that you cut no corners and that this is YOUR dream made real…  You’ll feel amazing.

My Indie Influences…

Prior to this adventure, I confess I’d never read an Indie Author’s book.

I, like most people, got my books predominantly by walking into a bookshop and plucking something I fancied off the shelf. I’d never even considered that there were such things as Indie Authors.
I was very naïve back then… Fine, okay, I still am!
My first gentle tiptoe into the Indie arena was when Wifey bought me a book for Christmas a few years ago called…


‘Confessions of a D-List Supervillain’ by Jim Bernheimer.
The books are a lot of fun, detailing the exploits of Cal Stringel, a disgraced engineer who builds himself a Ironman-esque suit of armor and goes on a crime spree. Thing is, Cal isn’t really a bad guy, just a guy forced into crime by a bad situation. As a reader predisposed to the superhero thing, this was exactly in my wheelhouse. I really enjoyed it!  And bought the rest of the series.


What had previously been a flight of whimsy in my head, suddenly became more real. Tangible.

If Jim Bernheimer could do it, then why couldn’t I?

At this point though, I was still more focused on the traditional route to getting my books out there. I dived into Twitter, trying to create a Social Media presence that I could boast about to any prospective Agent who might show an interest in my work.

Since that day, I’ve found many an Indie Author, who I’d like to call friends, who have influenced me. Maybe not so much with ‘Hunters’ (as that book was already pretty much done) but in the follow up book ‘Blood To Earth’ and beyond. As writers, reading is part of what we do. We devour the written word with gay abandon because it makes us better at what we do. We learn. Every book we read informs and enhances a part of our skillset.

Maybe it’s just reading something that inspires you. Maybe it’s finding a moment or aspect in someone elses work that you want to replicate somehow. To try your own hand at. Or maybe it’s something that pushes you to raise your own game…or at least strive to.

The books I list below, all gave me something. Their work has enhanced mine (hopefully) by pushing me to try harder. Be better. For that reason I will promote and push these guys at every opportunity, because here’s what their creative endeavours gave me…


SEX…I thought that might get your attention!

‘Acts of Closure’ by NT Anderson (@Nikki_Twisted)
If you don’t know NT Anderson by now (and you should because her grubby fingerprints are all over this website!) she’s my erstwhile TEPRIS PRESS partner in crime.
We very quickly fell into a wonderful friendship and started to help each other out. She’s the one who did the simply magnificent job helping me edit ‘Hunters’ for story and grammar, while I’m the one responsible for her formatting and cover layout.

Apart from the aforementioned help and partnership, there’s something else. Something particular to book 2 of my series…  Sex.
Nikki’s first book, ‘Acts of Closure’ is a romance novel with a fair amount of rumpy-pumpy in it. Helping her with her story development and edit, we worked on the sex scenes to try and make them…classy – for won’t of a better word. The final result is that Nikki has written something, I feel, is truly exceptional in it’s genre.
Now, I knew that while ‘Hunters’ had pretty much skirted the issue of the ‘sex scene’ I also knew that ‘Blood to Earth’ had two such scenes in it. Scenes where I couldn’t really avoid being a little graphic because they are important plot wise. But I did not want them to be gratuitous. Reading Nikki’s work gave me the confidence that I can do those scenes justice in my book.


A FUNNY thing happened when I read Eaton’s book…

‘A Life Spectacular’ by Eaton Krone (@EatonKrone)
Eaton is a fantastic human being (I think…). His book ‘A Life Spectacular’ (which could be autobiographical, it’s hard to tell…) was one of the first books – in my new Indie obsession – that I read. It’s hilarious. It tickles your funny bone in a way that the books of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett do.
It’s diffcult enough to write something people will find funny. Harder still is to write something funny that is also still a cohesive story. I can’t do comedy like he can, truly can’t. I’ve tried! But I did endeavour to inject humour

into my books to lighten the tone in places.

(I also like to give Eaton a massive shout out of thanks, as he was a font of advice regarding my formatting woes. Telling me what settings to use, what software, etc. I’m eternally grateful for his help.)


It’s a MYSTERY why I didn’t read Dzintra’s book sooner…

‘Once Upon A Death’ by Dzintra Sullivan (@DzintraSullivan)
Oh, man! Only one of the nicest people EVER!
As a person she’s been super supportive and helpful, especially as I try and navigate the waters of how the devil to market this thing I’ve created. More than that, however, is that after I read her book ‘Once Upon A Death’ I found myself really wanting to create something a little different.
Her book is a hilariously light and fun murder mystery, and since finishing it I’ve been plotting my own murder mystery book on the side.

There’s a throw away line in my second book about something called ‘The Holloway Horror’ and it’s the perfect jumping off point for a murder mystery spinoff book set in the ‘Songbird’ universe.  
I’m not sure how Dzintra did it (I think she’s more of a ‘pantser’ where I’m more of a ‘plotter) but she wrote a book that keeps you guessing AND is funny to boot! I am, however, finding it’s harder than Dzintra made it look!


It’s not the SIZE that counts, it’s what you do with it…


‘The Backup Superhero’ by Kayla Hicks (@klhicks912)
Super supportive Kayla’s recent release was a novella called ‘The Backup Superhero’ and I loved the concept, so popped along to Amazon and bought it. I was going to add it to the ‘To Be Read’ pile, but when it arrived it was shorter than I’d thought! So, I figured ‘what the heck, I’ll read it now!’.
It’s the perfect little gem of a story. The concept is great and will lend itself brilliantly to a longer format when Kayla writes follow ups…but it did get me thinking.

I cut about 80k words out of the original Hunters draft. Mostly prequel stuff. I’d always figured on making them into a prequel novel or two, but now I was certain about it. Kayla had proved to me that you CAN tell a cohesive story in a shorter format. It CAN be done.


Anna’s book made me want to get in on the ACTION!


‘Behind Blue Eyes: Fallen Angels’ by Anna Mocikat (@anna_mocikat)
Oh boy!
I’ve read three books by Anna now. I read ‘Shadow City’, ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ and was lucky enough to get an ARC read on ‘Behind Blue Eyes: Fallen Angels’. The latter two are Cyberpunk Noir, and the thing that strikes you most when you read them is the beautifully choreographed set pieces. Honestly, these books NEED to be films (as much as I know Anna would hate that!).

Her books, oddly, share a lot of similar, though subtle, through lines with my ‘Songbird’ saga, but it’s these scenes that have really made me try and up my game in the action moments. Especially as I write book 3 ‘Tooth & Claw’. My edit for Book 2, I’m sure, will also be heavily overhauled in a few areas because of Anna’s influence.

 


I can only DESCRIBE Halo’s book as deeply disturbing!

‘Edge of the Breach’ by Halo Scot (@Halo_Scot)
Now then, this one is a toughie! As I write this, I’m still reading Halo’s first book in her ‘Rift War’ series, ‘Edge of the Breach’. It is NOT a read for the faint hearted. Some of the subject matter in this book is…tough to read, and I’m happy leaving this stuff to her. The ‘Songbird’ saga will never be Grimdark.
But… Fuuuuuuck, her prose is sooooooo beautiful. Girl can turn a phrase! Phew!

She writes lyrical and gorgeous prose like no one else I’ve ever read. Halo’s book makes me utter that profane word at least once a chapter! Then I have to read that line over and over while shaking my head and thinking… “I should just get out of this writing game right now!  I can’t compete with that!”

But I am going to try, dammit!! 


Ah, the lessons I’ve learned…and it doesn’t stop there.

It’s funny now.  I’m still fairly active on Twitter, my follower numbers are closing in on 10k (which is popular, but nothing compared to some of my ‘peers’), but honestly I’m not that bothered about my reach. The Twitter #WritingCommunity has become something very different to me these days.
No longer simply a means to an end, now it’s a place where I can enjoy a chat with people I consider friends. I can promote THEIR work as well as mine (buyHuntersNOW!!!). I can ask for help or advice with the things I’m stuck on, and offer my help and advice to those who are going through the same things I am.
Even more than that, it’s become a primary source of where I find out about new Indie books I haven’t read yet.

Over the past year, I’ve probably ordered around 30 books from Amazon and over 80% of those books have come from Indie Authors.

And I’m fucking LOVING them.

Yes, sometimes the books may not be as polished as the ones that have spent time running through the traditional publishing system.

Doesn’t matter – Don’t care.

I understand that this isn’t easy when you’re trying to do it all yourself on a budget. If I’m picking up Stephen King’s latest then I’d be pissed if the book was rife with mistakes! There’s no excuse for that when you have thse kind of resources behind you. Indie Authors rarely have that luxury
But for those that hold that against them…you’re truly missing out.
These are some of the best, most imaginative tales I’ve EVER read. Some of the steamiest bittersweet romance. Some of the most beautiful prose. Some of the funniest moments and characters. Some of the most fantastically written action.

And then there’s Halo Scot…  Who’s writing makes me question her mental state!

(Just kidding, Halo!)
The point I’m making here is… BUY INDIE.
Forgive the little idiosyncrasies of creation on a budget and just read.
You WON’T regret it.

Love & (Indie) Books

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15 Comments

  1. Reply

    Sheesh, nag nag 😛
    Seriously though, I’ve read several of these and they are excellent, I’ll have to give the others a try as well!
    And yes, indie publishing is definitely the way to go for me!

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Yup! Get to it, Steve!
      I need to learn stuff from your books next!! ?

  2. Sean T

    Reply

    I have a very specific marketing goal for my first book. It involves knowing where my target audience for this genre is (I will be putting out multiple genres in the years to come) and linking those areas to social media and my personal blog with other writings. Does that sound like a good start?

    There are a lot of good, from your reviews, books you included here. Off to Amazon!

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Sounds like a great plan to me, but then I’m still trying to work this stuff out myself! LOL

  3. Robert P

    Reply

    You should just go with your instinct or intuition. There are sooooooooooooo many ways of doing this both online and off, you’ll be racking your brain forever if you think about it too much.

    I’m going the self route. Much cheaper.

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Certainly from a money aspect it’s very much cheaper. AND I much prefer the creative control I get.
      Just the marketing that’s a pain in the arse.
      THAT is the bit I haven’t figured out yet.

      • Robert P

        Reply

        I see marketing as branches from the same tree. That being the book, and each branch intertwining with each other> FB, Linkedin, Instagram, etc…….all the big names, should link to each other and then back to the book site.

        That’s one way to do it, at least.

  4. Evie

    Reply

    I read books from some of the most authors, but rarely do I prefer a commercially published author over an indie author of the same genre. Indie stories tend to have more depth and the authors are more accessible, while the big names become more commercialized and formulaic over time.

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      As long as you can forgive the little errors and things that inevitably creep in when you don’t have a huge unlimted budget to play with, there’s some truly fantastic stories out there from Indie authors. I’m LOVING dipping in the Indie pool.

  5. Liz

    Reply

    Some people have been known to use more than a few grammar checkers to help edit their books. It’s going to take longer to do this, but it will cost a lot less too.

  6. Paytin

    Reply

    This is a great blog post! I’m always looking for new authors to read. I’m especially interested in Halo Scot’s book. I love fantasy and science fiction. I read the Amazon blurb for her book and I’m excited to read it!

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Halo’s book is amazing. But REALLY dark, so be prepared. It’s not an easy read and you may need a lie down afterwards! LOL
      But it is, hands down, one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read.
      I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

  7. Tommi

    Reply

    I’m really new to the indie authors scene, but the books you featured really piqued my interest. I feel that there’s a bias against indie books which is tragic. Thanks for highlighting some indie authors. I’ll be checking them out.

    • Jon Ford

      Reply

      Thanks for the support, Tommi.
      I’ve tried to flit between a bunch of Indie Authors I know and am interested in their work. I wanted to expose my readers here on the website to as many different genres as I can. From Halo’s dark fantasy, to Dzintra’s whimsical comedy and everything in between. The Indie book-space has something for everyone and is often overlooked because people get sucked in by the Traditional publishers.

      But here’s the rub… I heard today that Simon and Schuster have their own ‘Self Publishing’ label now. Okay, so the packages are really expensive, but I do think that with Amazon making self-publishing SUPER accessible, it is probably going to be the future of the industry. It just needs some form of quality control. What form that takes, I really do not know…

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