We share tips on editors, formatters, and cover designers. We recommend promo venues and warn about scams or bad deals. And we cheer each other’s successes and commiserate when someone hits a roadblock.
Part of the reason for that, I’m sure, is that there is a feeling that we are all in this together, lone wolves fighting against the deep pockets, marketing muscle, and control of print distribution of the large publishers. But it’s also because many of the people involved are just plain nice.
One of the most helpful authors out there is Cheryl Shireman. I’ve featured her story before on this blog (and if you haven’t read that, you really should). She told me about a collaborative project she’s working on, and I invited her along to tell you all about it.
Recently, in a Facebook group I belong to, someone posted, Tell me what you hate most about being an indie author.
I thought about it a few minutes, and this was my response: You’re going to all pelt me with your Kindles, but as I sit here and try to think, I realize that I don’t hate ANYTHING about being an indie. Sometimes, promoting can be a drain, but honestly, even if I was traditionally published, I’d still be doing promotion.
I couldn’t come up with what I hate most about being an indie, but if the post had been, Tell me what you like most about being an indie author, I’d have a quick answer. I love the freedom and camaraderie. As an indie, I have the freedom to publish my projects on my own timeline. I choose my own cover, hire my own editor, and have total control on how my books are presented to the public.
But even better than that freedom, is the camaraderie I have found among my fellow indie writers. I don’t know if traditional writers enjoy the same sort of camaraderie, but I hope they do. Smart indie writers soon learn that their greatest asset is often their fellow indie writers.
I published my first novel, Life Is But a Dream: On The Lake in the last week of January of 2011. As I write this, that was about nine months ago. Within that relatively short period of time, I appeared on various indie blogs, was interviewed on more indie websites than I can remember, and appeared in two books – Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran and the Summer Book Club anthology (featuring Mark Williams, Saffina Desforges, J. Carson Black, Victorine Lieske, Louise Voss, Sibel Hodge, Scott Nicholson, H.P. Mallory, and myself). All of this was due to the kindness of strangers – other indie writers.
So when the notion came to me, a couple of months ago, of organizing my own anthology of women writers, it didn’t seem like it would be that difficult. Once I got beyond the scary notion of committing to such a project, I realized the most difficult part of the project would be finding the time to do it. Like most indies, I work long hours and have little free time. But I also knew this – when I started contacting other writers and asking them if they might be interested in the project, they would say yes. And they did.
I contacted about thirty women, and every one of them responded with enthusiasm. Most said yes immediately, and those who could not, due to time commitments, wished us well and asked me to let them know when the book when the book was published so they could be part of promoting it. How’s that for camaraderie?
I asked Karen McQuestion to write a foreword for the book. Karen’s success story inspired me to try indie publishing. Though no longer technically an indie writer (McQuestion signed with Amazon’s imprint, Encore), Karen responded with an enthusiastic yes. I wasn’t surprised. Thrilled, but not surprised.
The book began to develop, and as it did, a theme began to form. This became more than an anthology of fiction (the original intent). As we began to interact with one another, the feeling of support and encouragement was almost palpable. I began to think about that and wondered how this book might reflect that spirit. I believe everyone has a story. I also believe that we are meant to share our stories with one another so that others might be encouraged by them. That belief directed this book.
I asked each woman to include a story that might encourage other women. As women, one of our most powerful gifts is our ability to encourage one another. This book became our effort to encourage women across the world. Twenty-five women sharing stories to make you laugh, inspire you, and maybe even make you cry. We began to dream that these stories would inspire other women to live the life they were meant to live.
The stories started coming in. Some were light-hearted and fun to read. But others were gut-wrenching and inspiring – stories of how women dealt with physical abuse, overwhelming grief, and a host of bad choices. I never expected the depth and honesty of some of these stories. It was clear; these women were not just sharing a story, but a piece of their heart. I felt as if I were no longer “organizing” this anthology, but just getting out of the way so that it could morph and evolve into its truest form.
Foreword by Karen McQuestion
Knight in Shining Armor by Shea MacLeod
Latchkey Kid by Heather Marie Adkins
Write or Die by Danielle Blanchard
The Phoenix and The Darkness by Lizzy Ford
Never Too Late by Linda Welch
Stepping Into the Light by Donna Fasano
One Fictionista’s Literary Bliss by Katherine Owen
I Burned My Bra For This? by Cheryl Shireman
Mrs. So Got It Wrong Agent by Prue Battten
Holes by Suzanne Tyrpak
Turning Medieval by Sarah Woodbury
A Kinky Adventure in Anglophilia by Anne R. Allen
Writing From a Flour Sack by Dani Amore
Just Me and James Dean by Cheryl Bradshaw
How a Big Yellow Truck Changed My Life by Christine DeMaio-Rice
From 200 Rejections to Amazon Top 200! by Sibel Hodge
Have You Ever Lost a Hat? by Barbara Silkstone
French Fancies! by Mel Comley
Life’s Little Gifts by Melissa Foster
Never Give Up On Your Dream by Christine Kersey
Self-taught Late Bloomer by Carol Davis Luce
Moving to The Middle East by Julia Crane
Paper, Pen, and Chocolate by Talia Jager
The Magic Within and The Little Book That Could by Michelle Muto
Write Out of Grief by Melissa Smith
Afterword by Beth Elisa Harris
We also each included excerpts from our novels, but, honestly, I hope it is the stories that make the most impact. Sure it would be great if we could each sell some novels, but the thought of encouraging other women to reach for their dreams has become much more important to all of us.
All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation which fights breast cancer – a disease all too close to many of us.
Stop by our Facebook Page! Follow our Indie Chicks hashtag on Twitter! #IndieChicksAnthology
What Cheryl said is true. When I wrote Let’s Get Digital, I emailed around thirty successful self-publishers to see if they were willing to contribute an article. Honestly, I expected about ten of them to reply. I didn’t know most of them, and they certainly didn’t know who I was.
Virtually everyone said yes, straight away. I was inundated with fantastic contributions and was amazed that so many successful, busy writers would take the time to help me.
Looking at the line-up for Indie Chicks, Cheryl has a great mix of new, up-and-coming, and bestselling indie authors. It’s a great way for readers to sample a whole range of diverse voices. It’s a fantastic opportunity for these writers to cross-promote each other to their respective audiences. And best of all? It’s all for a good cause.
Best of luck to Cheryl and the rest of the Indie Chicks with this project.