I’ve been searching for ways to support the indie writing community. I know there are gestures that help like buying someone’s book or writing a review, and maybe that is the answer I’m looking for, but is there something that you would like to see happen via The Storyletter specifically? Would you benefit from industry-type posts, interviews, motivational essays, or self-publishing tool breakdowns? Let me know how I can help you. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. ~ WM
I think the best way to support indie authors other than the obvious (buy their book and leave a review) is to talk about it. Tell your friends and family that you liked the book. Recommend it others. Generally speaking, indie authors don't have the big budget to market as well as the huge publishing companies, so any amount of marketing is helpful and word of mouth is golden. Someone may see an ad on social media and think the book is cool, but there is so much more weight to a trusted friend telling them that a book is awesome.
i think this is a really good and important question. i don't really have a good answer. off the top of my head, what i think is useful, based on my experience with other sites i've explored and research i've done, is the following:
-exposure for fellow writers (whether it's articles, interviews, or book reviews, etc. is probably helpful)
-directing others to good resources for publishing/marketing/genre organizations/conferences, etc (good references for resources are key to making sure we don't end up chasing our tails when it's time to publish/promote.)
but more importantly...
-warning others to steer clear of bad resources, bad experiences, dead ends, and scams (i know no one likes to say negative things in the industry, but sharing bad experiences or mistakes can help spare others.)
-i'm always a fan of a good, clear how-to guide :-)
anyway, i'll keep thinking...
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I have one anthology of short stories to my name. It’s probably the most unread thing on Amazon.com, but this doesn’t bother me. What was gratifying to me was sharing the stories while they were being produced with friends and colleagues and getting immediate and very detailed responses from them that were overwhelmingly positive and specific enough to the contents of the stories to make it obvious that the stories had been read.
I don’t aspire to be a career author, and I’m not interested in making money off of what I write, although I think a writer would need to be pretty daft not to appreciate such good fortune if it were ever to come his or her way. But it would be nice to get exposure. Social media makes it very difficult to share stories with friends. In the past their algorithms tended to hide links to my writing projects on sites like Wordpress. Then someone hacked into my Wordpress and hijacked it out from under me, so I just quit that Site.
I’m in my fifties and, although I was tech-savvy in the 90s when the Internet was still novel (and quite the bee’s knees!), the complexity and diffuseness of the Internet and the younger community that have grown with it, are difficult for me to keep up with. I love storytelling, but I feel like there’s no clear means of getting my stories “out there”. Plus the environment seems to be suffering from a glut of chicanery and fraud that makes me wary of reaching out to some of the publishers and magazines that allegedly want to see my work.
For example, not long ago, I tried to submit a story to one of the old-timey pulp magazines that go back the 1960s. I’m not going to mention the publication by name because what happened wasn’t their fault; but it’s one of the reasons I’m wary about submitting stories to online. Their portal was taken over by some malign actor. I went to upload a story and to put in my credit card information to handle the reasonable submission fee. The next thing I know, my email was hacked, my credit was being used to make unauthorized purchases, and the story never actually got uploaded to their site. The submission process was run by a second party contractor, so I wrote to them to let them know what had happened, and they told me that they didn’t run the site, they just processed submissions. I would have to call the magazine which owned the rights to the page where submission portal resided. I tried calling the magazine’s number (one landline number for subscriptions, submissions, customer service, employment enquiries, etc.) and no one answered.
That was the biggest disappointment. The other disappointments are minor. I submitted a story that was a very light fantasy (a sort of artsy retelling of an ancient myth) to a literary magazine and paid the $35 submission fee. It was rejected because it was adjudged to be a “fantasy” story instead of a “literary” story (whatever the hell that means). I submitted a ghost story to a fantasy and horror online magazine and was rejected because I used the word “shit” and the rejection email indicated that that one word had trumped all other considerations. I submitted twice to a horror podcast and have had my submissions rejected because the manuscript wasn’t in the first person or written in a way that would be easily translated into an audio podcast, which is fair.
After these experiences, I went through a period of not writing anything at all, but doing recordings through Librivox, which I did all through COVID. I really enjoyed that online community, which reminded me of the old usenet groups I used to belong to in the 90s, because the volunteers who make those recordings are highly literate and love talking about books. But after COVID, I didn’t have the time to concentrate on Librivox. (It would take me at least 8 hours to edit a 50 minute story or chapter from a book.)
My Latin Professor translated all of the Divine Comedy into Old Scots and it’s a very good translation. He’s now in his nineties. About 12 years ago, he paid a publishing company about $5K to edit his work and prepare it for publication. Ostensibly, they were going to publish it online for him and create a printed version as well. But then, just as the work was scheduled to go to press, the company called him and told him that they couldn’t publish it, because they didn’t publish translated texts, only original works. The initial money he paid, was just lost after being led along for over a year. I asked him if he sued, but he said he just didn’t have the energy and so his book would never see the light of day.
This is the challenge that the older generation confronts in dealing with the current publishing landscape. My friends who write or teach writing as a profession offer me advice that tends to leave my head spinning: “You should join this online writing group, because they’ll tell you how to engage with Amazon on advertising”, or “You should follow so-and-so on Twitter/YouTube/Facebook because he/she has monetized her writing.” I just submitted a novel to a contest that was tipped to me by a Hollywood writer. It’s a prose competition. It’s still in the judgment phase, but I’m getting weekly updates telling me that I should pay extra money to share my contact information with publishing houses and film producers, which have been followed by other emails with questionnaires about whether I belong to the screenwriter’s guild or what my user identity code is with such and such writing association. It just seems like, unless you’re a career writer, you’re not worth anyone’s consideration. The commercialism and jobbery of it all is disenchanting, and I don’t think that’s ever going to change.
So when it comes to Indie writers (and I’m proud to call myself one of those), I would say that sites like yours are a great place to hang out. I’m new to Substack, but I may set up my own soon. I’m impressed with how other people use it (including J.M. Elliott) and I feel that this platform would at fulfill my own desire to just make my stories available so that someone, somewhere can read them; and so that I could share the links with the friends and colleagues of mine who appreciate what I write, so that if I suddenly pass away, at the very least I would’ve had a chance to share my stories on the internet where they might be archived somewhere, instead of simply disappearing with the postmortem deactivation of my cloud drive. 😂
Something I've thought about in regards to this is how on social media, we say we support one another but then we continue to share mainstream content rather than the content our followers are creating.
We focus on our own creations and works that inspire us and sometimes fail to recognize what is being made around us, at the same level we are at.
Over the past few months, I've come to realize that a big thing that's holds us back is envy & greed. Deep down we all want to make it big because we believe that will bring us happiness in our passions. We then become envious of those who were once at our level but grow to where we wish we can be at. Then there's the greed aspect, which stems from the fact that we want to hold onto our own money to promote our own works instead of purchasing or even just donating a couple bucks a month to creators we "support".
In the end though, what I'm wanting to do is find ways to prop up other creators and organizations that share my same love of storytelling and values. I want to share more works that I enjoy and network in more ways.