I learned recently that I was selected to be one of the featured Indie authors this coming Saturday, October 14 at the Forbes Library in Northampton, MA, in celebration of National Indie Author Day.

For those of you who are local to Northampton, I would LOVE to see and feel you in the audience.  The event features eight writers, each reading for five minutes or so, followed by book signing.  If you’re in the neighborhood or can be, come on over.  I will be reading first, at 2 PM.

Although I would be very delighted to see Pioneer Valley friends on Saturday, this post is not primarily an invitation.

Since sharing news of this event on Facebook, I’ve learned that many folks do not know what an Indie author is.

One friend half-jokingly asked if I was an indecent author.

No, I am not an indecent author. 🙂

I am an independent author.

I thought I would share just a bit about it means and can mean to be an Indie Author. 

I would be delighted if my sharing offers encouragement to you or to someone you know, who may have a book to birth—whether still in the imagination or on paper.  But even if you aren’t harboring a book inside, I hope that you’ll enjoy discovering more about my far-from-indecent journey.

The very good news is: there are many more paths to creating and publishing high quality books these days than ever before!

Here is one definition from ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors

“Being an indie author is primarily an approach to writing and publishing, a matter of self-definition. If you see yourself as the creative director of your books, from concept to completion and beyond, then you’re indie.”

Some further description from Alli’s website of what it is to be an “indie”:

You recognize that ‘indie’ does not necessarily mean ‘self-publishing only’ and acknowledge that even the most indie-spirited self-publisher works in collaboration with other publishing professionals (editors, designers, distributors) to produce a good book and reach readers.

You recognize that you are central to a revolutionary shift in publishing which is moving from seeing the author as resource (in the new parlance ‘content provider’) to respecting the author as creative director.

You are proud of your indie status, which you carry into all your ventures, negotiations and collaborations for your own benefit and to the benefit of all writers.

Years ago, (and perhaps still today) “vanity presses” could be paid big bucks to publish one’s work without any genuine quality control.

Today, a growing number of independent authors value and are committed to quality of content and design; we don’t want to see publishing standards lowered, but enhanced.

Indie authors also don’t want to be subject to the whims of the traditional book industry whose bottom line is often dollars, which drives a focus on celebrity authors and not taking a risk on books that might not prove popular.

I chose to become an independent author precisely because I wanted autonomy, the ability to make my own critical decisions about the content and design of The Tremble of Love.  I also did not want to compromise the integrity of the book in order to make it more “marketable.”

In the process of readying The Tremble of Love for publication, I searched for (and was led to) editorial and design professionals of the highest caliber, whose work I found inspiring and the right match.

Most of the players in my editorial and design team are freelancers who previously worked for major publishing houses.  They’ve shared that freelancing affords them more contact with authors and greater satisfaction with their contribution to the books on which they work.  They feel more fulfilled.

My cover designer, Laura Duffy, shared with me that when working for major publishing houses, she rarely if ever was able (or encouraged) to read the book whose cover she was designing. Instead she was told to draft a few designs based on a brief summary.

When we worked together, Laura took the time to read the entire five hundred pages of The Tremble of Love!  She wrote me that she felt like she had been on a spiritual retreat.  Laura based the designs she sent me on the depth of her experience.  Each of her designs were stunning!   I wept when I saw the scroll image, so I knew that was the one.  We worked together to tweak it a bit and voilà!

(Writing this has inspired me to share more in a future post about working with Laura.  When I do, I will also share Laura’s beautiful designs that did not make it cover status!)

I cannot imagine a more wonderful team than that which helped me bring The Tremble of Love: A Novel of the Baal Shem Tov to its readers.

We worked hard, steadily and joyfully together. 

It blessed our work that each member of the team was deeply inspired by the message of love at the heart of The Tremble of Love, and fully invested in creating a book that reflected this beauty and power.

Along the way, there were countless examples of this. 

In addition to the exquisite interior design of the hardcover and paperback editions, special care beyond what is typical was given to how the book would render on digital devices.  A bow to Karen Minsterinterior designer extraordinaire!  And my team of editors whose attentiveness to EVERY line in the book still amazes me, oh my.  More bows to Alan Rinzler, Meg Fisher, Rosie Pearson and Diane Aronson.  Now, I am working with the masterful Peter Acker, of Armadillo Audio Group who is engineering the audiobook edition of The Tremble of Love.

I know that the path I chose is not for everyone. Happily, it is one among many paths to birthing a book.

I chose to be an independent contractor.

There also exist hybrid models—individuals and businesses that offer guidance and coordinate services, such as editing, design and even promotion—taking the pressure off one’s having to chart one’s own path.

Note: Due diligence is crucial, since the radical shift in the publishing industry has also spawned enterprises that take advantage of authors.  

Thankfully, one can find many trustworthy, wonderful resources.  A great place to start is Jane Friedman’s website www.janefriedman.com, featuring a curated plethora of free, comprehensive information and guidance on every aspect of the writing and publishing journey,  (Jane is a master at weaving inspiration with down-to-earth, practical advice.)

So to conclude: an indie author, at least this one writing to you, is not indecent, but rather is someone who possesses (and is possessed by) a fierce and loving dedication leading her into all manner of risky-feeling creative endeavors in order to birth a book, a particular book that she had to write. 

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