Thursday, August 15, 2013

Indie and Proud

When I was in the process of writing my first novel, the idea of self-publishing never entered my head. But by the time I had completed it and was wondering what to do with it, self-publishing seemed the obvious choice.

Like a lot of others, I tended to view self-publishing as a route for those who were not good enough to get a publishing deal. This was a bias that had been ingrained in me despite the fact that I have never held contemporary fiction in high regards. I am just as susceptible to lazy thinking as anyone else, and so the idea that acceptance by the authorities equaled quality found its way into my thoughts, despite the fact that my general observations have been the exact opposite. I have always tended toward the independent film or the indie rock band. If I am looking for a book to read, the last thing I would think to do is look on the New York Times Bestsellers List or read some trade publication that is supposed to tell me what is new and important at the moment.

The comparison to music says it all for me. I look at my music collection and find next to nothing from any of the major labels. Surely there are the established classics, The Beatles and The Kinks, just as my bookshelves hold Shakespeare and Dostoyevsky. But when it comes to recent music, bands like Änglagård and Echolyn stand head and shoulders above anything I can find on the radio, despite the obvious lack of resources. Let’s face it, the corporate influence dictates that the central focus be on the bottom line rather than the actual worth of the art being made. Rather than allowing an artist to express his or her opinion, focus groups, spread sheets, and people in cubicles dictate what the final “product” should be.

If you read only the first chapter of my first novel, The Amazing Morse, you will know that I express a dislike for “the corporate mindset that crushed wonder”. Virtually everything you read, see or hear nowadays is delivered through the corporate entertainment machine, or is a reflection of same. While I believe it is still possible for an artist’s voice and vision to get through, it is increasingly unlikely to happen, at least not through the major channels. Corporations rule the way we think today in the same manor the Catholic Church ruled European thought in the Middle Ages. So deeply engrained is the corporate mindset that we are not even aware how much it shapes our perceptions. So deeply engrained is the corporate mindset that I held a bias against the indie writer despite all personal evidence to the contrary.

So I am proud to consider myself an indie writer, happy to sit outside the mainstream and thus be in a position to see and critique the dominant paradigms of our day. My voice is wholly my own, uncensored by any person or persons that are part of the groupthink that is inevitable in our corporate era. Without the voice of the indie, the range of vision for our society will constantly shrink as the variety of voices will be silenced. In the place of innovative filmmaking, you will have a constant barrage of sequels to Adam Sandler films.

Yes, there are obvious advantages of having the financial and promotional backing of an established company, but the corrupting influences are too great.

Perhaps you have found the spelling error I had in the fourth paragraph and thought to yourself: “Strictly amateur. Assuredly, if he had an editor, that would have been corrected.” Well, perhaps it would have been caught. But the tradeoff would be that I would need to be branded as a particular type of author and sold to a particular market. My writing would then have to reflect what the market thinks is hot, rather than what I want to write. I would be just another commodity to be sold on the market. The edge of any point I try to make would have to be softened until it was incapable of offending anybody. It is not my intention to offend, but it is my intention to make a point, to tell the truth as I see it and permit the reader to decide what my opinion is really worth. I do not need nor do I want someone to change my writing in order to maximize profits and appeal to the proper demographics. I just can’t think like that, and if I could, I probably wouldn’t be writing books.

And that is why I am Indie and Proud.

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