Locked to Freedom

Cross-posted from Amazing Stories Magazine today.

The problem with the internet is that anyone can write something down, publish it, and present it as fact when it’s not. http://boingboing.net/2013/10/11/amazon-requires-publishers-to.html I have ten titles on Amazon, and another one coming out later this week. Every single one, the default is no DRM, although there is a check-box I can click if I decided I wanted it on my work. Which I don’t. Unlike Big Music and Big Publishing, I don’t think all people are thieves. I also know better than to think that DRM is anything but a challenge to hacker twits who break stuff just for jollies.

The great thing about the internet is that anything can write something down, publish it, and have it become real. This week I came across this article, a truly gifted piece of snark that I enjoyed reading (defining snark: a blend of sarcasm, irony, and one-upmanship. With a heavy dollop of nasty). “It is manifestly obvious that a self-published author is no author at all, and that a self-published book is not published. And since a book must have an author, it is surely evident that a self-published book is not even a book.” Tom Simon goes on to point out that the self-published are in good company, since by that definition, Samuel Clemens’ work was also non-existent.

Mark Twain’s books leads me to a link exploring in photos the abandoned Mark Twain Library in Detroit. I’m rather fond of libraries, and to see this one eerily still, destroyed, with books scattered across the floors and grime on the beautiful windows still letting light in is disturbing. My mind begins to roam through possibilities in these images. They seem so distant to my own experience that they could easily be drawn from a work of fiction, of some distant dystopia. I think they would make a strikingly evocative cover for a book on the fall of some civilization.

Speaking of things that are changing, still? Again? hard to tell, since our industry seems to be in the throes of changing almost weekly. Covers… how important are they? I have to wonder, after looking at a lot of them in designing covers not only for myself now, but other indie authors, how much weight an average reader does give to them. The answers seem to lie across the spectrum, with some claiming they never look at a cover, and others saying that it is what they look at first, because a good cover means that someone paid enough attention and time to make the book worthwhile. I’d argue that last point, having seen the gamut of covers run from execrable, with great story inside, to fabulous, with cra**y story inside.

As an indie author, I’m responsible for all of that, from the ideas that form the work, to the cover that graces it. It means that for me, I work hard at crafting a good product. I do a lot of side work I don’t get paid for, but I have a specific goal in mind that I am working toward. I don’t agree with the guy in this article, who seems to think that because traditional publishers are falling away and he can’t rely on them for income, he will be forced into servitude, to have to work for free. No, there are choices out there, as a writer, that give you control over your own destiny. Brandilyn Collins, in an interview, says this, and pinpoints for me the reason I went indie: “ I’m no longer selling my assets; I own them.”