Oct 5, 2012

Indie Photographer: Beth Akerman

BAkerman-110211lipsI found Beth Akerman’s photos on a friend’s Google+ page, and I promptly added her to one of my circles so I could keep up with her work. Beth, a trained artist, grabbed onto my love of nature with her vivid, artistic photography. As an amateur photo buff, I know it’s not easy to get nature to cooperate with the mechanics of a camera; you have to have the right angle, the right lighting, and the right settings to capture a purely beautiful scene. It’s not as easy as some photographers make it look. Beth is one of those.

LK: Beth, welcome to Elucidations and thank you for being here to chat with us and show off a bit of your work. Will you share a bit of your background and tell us how you were pulled into photography and design?

BA: I have a BFA from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio where I concentrated in printmaking and art history. Some of my design work comes directly out of my printmaking background, specifically my ink designs. I learned to look at and for little details and think outside the box while in college, and it has translated into the way in which I work both in ink, painting and photography. I have never taken a photography course, and am totally self-taught in photography. Mostly through trial and error, but the concepts of design, composition and color where well grounded already from my art background.

LK: I have looked through a lot of your photos and I’ve noticed you have a penchant for close up nature work. What draws you to that focus rather than to landscapes or hard surfaces or people?

BA: I like details and finding things within things, like the shape of aBAkerman-09-20-013 twisted dry grapevine, or the texture of the petals and interior of a flower, the fuzz of a bee, and so on. I see potential in the small things that others might overlook. I do like landscapes and would love to do more of them, but I live in a suburban area that does not allow for too many of those. I also really do not have a huge interest in photographing people, but from time to time to stretch my wings I will photograph them. I did several portraits of my boyfriend dressed up and pretending to be Pablo Picasso for an Artistic Photography Mentorship I have on Google Plus for a Picasso assignment. They were well received. I may try a few more in the future.

LK: You have also taken part in charity work, through two photo books and with art raffles for sea turtles and tsunami relief. What brought you to engage in helping with your chosen charities?

BA: The Leaf Portraits book came about last year as several people told me that I should make a book of them. Since I really didn’t need the income from the book, I decided to donate the proceeds to a local school that I am a member of the Alumni Parents Association Committee. It was a collaborative effort with the leaf photography and poetry of several friends from Fine Art America, Google Plus and one dear longtime friend and supporter, Amos White whom I have known since college. 100% of the proceeds was donated directly to the school. The Google Plus Female Photography Book called How We See It...our view of our world again was a collaborative project for charity. 33 female photographers from Google Plus contributed images to the book, and over $250 (at $4 and $5 per book profit) was donated to the NOW Love Your Body Foundation that deals with body images issues and eating disorders. A cause close to my heart and that of many of the 32 other contributors to the book. A second book that is expanded to include many more Google Plus Female Photographers and female writers is in the works. It will be released on Blurb at the end of October, and will be called How We See It...more views of our worlds. The sea turtle project over 2 years ago was in response to the Gulf BP Oil Disaster. I have always loved sea turtles, and enlisted my Facebook friends at that time to help raise money to sea turtle rescue. Many of my high school, college, and sorority sisters purchased sea turtle jewelry and artwork with the proceeds being sent to various sea turtle rescue societies. The I Love Japan fundraiser primarily through the proceeds from the sale of various artworks of both myself and my then 13 year old son was the result of wanting to help with Japanese Tsunami Relief. My son loves Japan and the fundraiser was mainly his idea. Money was donated to the Red Cross for Tsunami relief.

LK: I was especially drawn to your photo book compilations with other photographers and poets. Leaf Portraits grabbed me due to my love of trees. Can you tell us more about the Wellington School art program it helps to support?

BA: The Wellington School is a private independent pre-K through 12th grade school located in Upper Arlington, Ohio. My now grown daughter is a graduate of the school, and I have been involved in some manner with the school for over 18 years. They have a wonderful and strong arts program, both in the visual and the performing arts. Like any other private school, the school must raise money for its programs through its parents, alumni parents, alumni and other fundraising events, including the yearly Arts Premiere. I was honored to have been able to participate in the 2012 Wellington Arts Premiere by offering 3 of my photographs and several macro photography experiences for young photographers at the school.

BAkerman-09-03-12stick1LK: Your newest compilation is full of work by female photographers. How We See It... Our View of Our Worlds has a great cover and I assume they are the book contributors. What led you to the thought of doing a women only photo book?

BA: Frequently what I have found is that the art and the photography world is pretty male dominated. What I found in joining the Google Plus social network while it was still in Beta was not only was there a great and supportive art and photography community there, but a strong women’s artist and photography community there. I met many wonderful female artists and photographers there, and felt it would be a good way to help bring some more attention to the high quality photography of the female photographers on Google Plus. It is a great community and not only are the women photographers on Google Plus wonderful and highly supportive of each other, the male photographers as a whole are highly supportive of the female photographers there. Plus, it was kind of a way to show the guys that the girls are pretty darn incredible too.

LK: Aptly, the charity How We See It supports is female related, as well. Can you tell us a bit about NOW Love Your Body Foundation and why you chose it?

BA: The charity was actually chosen by one of the other participants. However, it is something very close to my heart. I nearly lost my then 15 year old daughter 8 ½ years ago to an eating disorder. As a parent who went through that experience, I believe very strongly in promoting healthy body image and eating disorder assistance and hopefully, trying to find ways to prevent them in the first place, by identifying those in danger of succumbing to them before they get out of hand. A number of the other book participants either have struggled with body image issues and/or eating disorders or know someone who has struggled with one or the other.

LK: We share a similar path in that our families took the place of our art for many years. Do you feel that affected your work or your current work ethic?

BA: At the end of the day the answer is no. I always drew and created some art during the years I was raising my children but didn’t try and pursue it outside of doing art for myself and my family and friends. I also made jewelry during those years and sold them to co-workers and friends. So I kept creating to a certain extent. Also, I think now that I am more mature my work is more mature and I am able to focus more on the areas that I have consistently been good at over the years, namely the ink designs, and being more choosy on adding new and different things like taking up photography. I always knew that art was something I could easily pick up again.

Actually it took a visit to a former next door neighbor’s art gallery that she had for a few years before closing it to concentrate on her family that inspired me to really take up the art again. Kind of a “hey I can do that moment.” I had some early success in that my work had been in art galleries before right after college, and I had received several commissions over the years, so it was kind of picking up to a certain extent where I left off in many ways. However, with the internet and the ability to sell your work not only in the traditional means such as galleries, commissions and art shows, but via print on demand services like Fine Art America and SmugMug, my main art sites for my photography and art , have changed the game a bit and made it easier to get out there again and start building a following for my work. It does still involve a lot of work and a bit of luck, but it does make it worthwhile to get instant feedback when you post a work that is positively received.

LK: Just for fun, a few artsy personal questions: What music gets you going? Who is your favorite fine artist? Like any particular dance style? How about a favorite author or reading genre?

BA: I love punk rock and alternative music, namely stuff like The Ramones, The Smiths, REM, No Doubt, and Green Day to name a few. My favorite artists have to be Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renior, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe and Jackson Pollack. Sorry have more than one of those. I don’t dance at all. My family says that is something I shouldn’t do. I love to read John Grisham type legal novels and John Jakes type historical novels.

LK: Beth, thanks again for sharing your time. Before you go, do you have any advice for amateur photographers interested in going professional?

BA: Try everything photographically and then find a few niches that work for you. Don’t be afraid to be a bit different, but still be yourself. Don’t get discouraged, and get out and network and promote yourself in a positive manner. Be nice and kind, it will get you further than having an attitude. And don’t allow others to discourage you, walk all over you, and don’t be afraid to stick up for yourself sometimes. Realize not everyone is going to like what you do, but there is always someone out there who does like it. Find your audience.

Thank you again, Beth! Be sure to follow the links below to find more of her incredible photography:

Leaf Portraits book: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2568119
The Way We See It: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/3176099
Fine Art America: http://beth-akerman.artistwebsites.com
SmugMug: http://akermansart.smugmug.com
Main website: www.akermansart.com



Sep 25, 2012

LK Designs for Cover Art

In the future, Elucidations will highlight some of the best and brightest indie cover artists we find around the net. In the meantime, since I’ve just added to my cover art pages with new designs, I thought I’d sneak in and do a quick preview of what I’ve been doing with my own original photos and artwork.

2012-archandsea-thumbThis is from a combination of two photos I took, both in Scotland. I wanted an old feel to it, so I played with coloring and effects and came up with Arch and Sea.

So far unpurchased, it would make a great cover for historicals!

(I take them down and replace them with new designs once they’re purchased.")


This is a photo from my own area, here in western Pennsylvania. Again, I cropped the photo for the right angle and then played with color and brightness.

This could be a literary cover, or even a mystery/suspense grabber.

2012-youngcoupleonred-thWrite Young Adult?

This one is a computer art graphic.

Interested in the same couple but a different colored background for a different feel? Let me know. I gladly make small changes.

I don’t do a lot of people, but now and then I’ll get an itch…

I love sunflowers.Sunflower

This is acrylic on canvas, plus some contrast and light play.

I wish I could show these full size. They do look far nicer than these thumbnail examples.

2012-robinwatercolor-thThis one is watercolor. I may have to add a closer up image here. Let’s see…


The covers from photos are $9.95, free of text so you can add your own. The artwork photos range from $14.95 to $29.95, depending on how much time I put into them.

Please check my DESIGN page for details and usage permission, and to see what else I have posted. More are waiting to be added and they may rotate. Please note there are two pages of designs, one with photo covers and one with art covers.

Interested in something more personalized? Let me know. I don’t do photos of people or anything racy or too gory, and sci fi is not my strong point. I can also do full wraparound covers for prints. Contact me for a quote.

I can also design bookmarks to match these covers for your advertising purposes.

In the meantime… back to writing!

LK Hunsaker


Jun 9, 2012

Interview: Indie Author Kathleen Valentine

KathleenValentine-AuthorPhotoRecently I talked with an author on Goodreads on some message forum I don’t remember. I do remember enjoying the conversation and her thoughts, so I picked up one of her books. I’m glad I did. The Old Mermaid’s Tale by Kathleen Valentine is hard to put down. It’s a beautiful coming of age story mixed with romance and recent history, accompanied by lush settings. I suggested it to my Facebook friends and a couple of them have picked it up and are loving it as much as I did.

The story line: Clair is a small town Ohio girl who makes a break from her rural life to attend college in Erie, Pennsylvania, a seaport town. Finding the stories of fisherman in the 1960s terribly romantic, Clair grabs the chance to work at a cafe where they hang out and finds herself right in the midst of their world, so different than her own. She and her friends embark on a true adventure of love, lust, gritty life, and growth. Valentine’s characters are deeply drawn, wonderfully flawed, full of spirit and hope and sadness and strength. Mix in music, mermaids, bits of history, and an enviable romance, and The Old Mermaid’s Tale sets sparks to the craft of storytelling in its finest form.

I also need to point out that this is the first indie novel I rated with 5 stars. I rarely give 5 stars to any novel, indie or traditional.


I was able to catch up with Kathleen Valentine for a quick interview about her debut novel and other artsy interests.

LK: Welcome Kathleen! As you can see, I just loved your first novel. I have to say that we have plenty in common, from a love of water and a Pennsylvania residence to a love of Hemingway, along with both being indie authors with art backgrounds. I look very much forward to chatting with you today!

First, are there any comments you’d like to make about the review of An Old Mermaid’s Tale or anything you’d like to add?

KV: That was a very lovely review that you gave my book. I deeply appreciate it. I suppose every writer more than anything else wants to touch their readers hearts and I really felt like you expressed your reactions well. It is very gratifying to me as the author.

LK: My pleasure! Let’s start with location. You’re originally from north central Pennsylvania and you set The Old Mermaid’s Tale in Erie. Have you spent a lot of time there? What was it that drew you in enough to use it as a novel setting?

KV: When I was little I often spent a few weeks in the summer with my aunt and uncle who lived in Erie. My uncle loved the sea stories and sea legends and sometimes in the evening he'd take me down to the public docks and tell me stories about the ships. All the scenes when Clair goes to the public pier are directly from those visits.

Later I attended college in Erie at Behrend. Chesterton College in the book is my version of Behrend. A few of the other places are also from my memories of that period – Sullivan's Pub, Waldameer Park, the museum on sixth Street – those are all places I remember well. I worked in a diner for a couple of years on the night shift. It was quite an experience for a girl from rural Pennsylvania. One of the most interesting things that happened was when the Ringling Brothers Circus came to town. The performers and workers would come in the diner at night. There was one man who tried to get me to run away with him. He was an animal trainer from Quebec. I didn't go with him but I never forgot him. His name was Baptiste.

LK: Ah, so there’s quite a bit of truth behind this novel. I love knowing you pulled Baptiste’s name from a real character you met.

I’ve been to Gloucester, Massachusetts, your current residence, and it’s extraordinarily beautiful. I’d love to go back. What drew you there and have you used it as a setting?

KV: I moved here because I was drawn to the arts community. I was living in Marblehead, MA but spent all my free time in Gloucester so finally I decided to move here. My newest novel, Depraved Heart, is set here. It is a novel of romantic suspense with a lot of scenes in Gloucester.

LK: I have to ask, since The Old Mermaid’s Tale talks of fisherman and the dangers they encounter: Do you fish? Or do you otherwise spend much time out on the water?

KV: I don't fish but I spent several years with a man who was a commercial fisherman and I learned a lot from him. I've also spent a fair amount of time sailing and on whale watches and things of that sort.

LK: I love the storytelling theme of the book. How important do you think the oral storytelling tradition was, and is it still? Do you have any favorite storyteller authors?

KV: I think oral tradition is incredibly important especially in these days when families are becoming so broken up and live so far away from one another. I grew up in a family where storytelling was a big part of every family occasions. I can remember family parties where the whole house would be filled with people and every room you walked in to there would be people sitting around telling stories. Right now I am working on a collection of stories all set in the same town with the same characters but each one is based in a story from my growing up years. As far as storytellers are concerned, I really admire Garrison Keillor and James Thurber, of course.

LK: I look forward to release of that book. It sounds wonderful! Speaking of art, you have an art/design background and you do your own covers, which I love, by the way. Do you have advice for indie authors on cover design or on doing their own?

KV: It's tough because a lot of indie artists shoot themselves in the foot by not paying attention to their cover. If you are not an artist and are on a limited budget, you can try to find someone to swap services with to get a better cover. I do this a lot with fellow writers. I'll swap a cover design for proof-reading or something like that.

LK: Great idea. I know I bypass books with unprofessional covers because I’m afraid the book will be unprofessional. Covers matter that much.

Would you tell us how you became an indie author?

KV: Sure. It was an accident. Seriously, since 2003 I have run my own design business and over the years I was hired to design books by people who were publishing independently. I designed several books for a local art association and then a man who was writing a collectors guide to clocks hired me to design a book for him. Eventually I decided, since I didn't have to go to the expense of hiring designers, it made sense to publish as an indie – especially because the profit margin is much higher.

LK: How likely are you to recommend to other writers that they go it on their own?

KV: It depends. Being an indie has its ups and downs. I would never attempt it if I had to hire designers, someone to do a web site, marketing materials, etc. But if you can afford to do that then being an indie can be a good way to go. Personally, I think I like designing my covers and my marketing materials as much as I love writing. I've even designed covers for books I'll probably never get around to writing just because I love working with images.

LK: Just for fun, what is your favorite color and why?

KV: Sky blue – nothing is as beautiful to me as the sky on a beautiful day, summer or winter.

LK: How about your favorite music, either singer/band or genre? Do you write with music?

KV: I'm more of a classical music fan, mostly from the baroque period – Albinoni, Teleman, Allegri. Yes, I write with that kind of music on. I also like a lot of the independent singer/songwriters. Garnet Rogers, who served as my model for Baptiste's voice in The Old Mermaid's Tale, is a particular favorite.

LK: I’ll have to look up Garnet Rogers, I think. Do you have a favorite fine artist? Dancer? Actor/actress?

KV: I love Matisse but mostly I am drawn to the Hudson River School and the luminists. There is a LOT of art in my latest novel, Depraved Heart. My second novel, Each Angel Burns, is about a sculpture of the archangel Gabriel by Giovanni Dupré that has disappeared.

There are a lot of dancers I love – Angel Corella thrills me. One of the main characters in Depraved Heart is a dancer and I tell people that in my mind he is a cross between Angel Corella and Russell Brand.

LK: In another interview, you said, “If you don’t take pride in your craft, do something else.” Can you talk a bit about this?

KV: Sure. I'm a firm believer that everyone has a gift and it is part of your destiny to find that and to do it to the best of your ability. Sometimes we get the idea that we are SUPPOSED to do a certain thing. You grow up with the idea that you have to be a doctor or a scientist or whatever but you discover, as you pursue it, that your heart just isn't in it. That is not a good way to go through life. I think when you find the thing you were meant to do you will pursue it with passion and a deep desire to do it to the very best of your ability. It is better to bake a perfect pie than to write a mediocre novel. Society has a distorted sense of what is important and it is critical to each person's happiness to realize where their gifts fit in the overall scheme of things.

LK: Well said. I fully agree.

I know you’re an avid reader. What are you reading now?

KV: Right now I am reading The Meaning of Isolated Objects by Billie Hinton on my Kindle and listening to the Audible version of The Daughters of Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt while I sew or kit.

LK: Nice to find others who read different books at the same time! If you won a week-long getaway, all expenses paid, to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

KV: Funny you should say that, I was just thinking I need a week with my Kindle and my laptop somewhere quiet and alone for a week. I love the coast of Maine and Cape Cod. I don't really have any destinations per se that interest me, just the conditions when I get there. Although I would like to spend some time in the Orkney Islands because of the lace knitting culture there.

LK: The Old Mermaid’s Tale is romantic but not a genre romance. I believe you describe it as contemporary fiction. One thing I love about it is that it’s literary and it’s romance. It’s what I call literary romance, the best of both genres meshed together. That’s also what I call my own. I’ve seen labels such as “literary thriller” recently. How do you feel about the trend, specifically within indie writing, to mix and blend genres? Do you think there’s enough market for them?

KV: I don't know. I write what interests me and I absolutely refuse to write according to a specific formula. I'm on something of a mission to restore the word “romance” back to its origins, meaning a book that combines love, adventure, honor, and poetics. One of the greatest of the American classical romances is Last of the Mohicans and we have lost so much of that kind of romance. I want novels with characters I can love and relate to. I've noticed a disturbing tendency in a lot of contemporary novels for the characters to be genuinely obnoxious people with no redeeming values. I wouldn't hang out with people like that in real life so why would I want to spend time reading about them?

LK: Again, I fully agree. I once had a lady ask what the point of a romance novel was if it wasn’t graphic. Sad, I think. Romance as it should be defined does seem to be getting lost in a quagmire of sex, and the two are not the same.

Along that line, what do you most hope to give your readers when they pick up one of your books?

KV: My deepest hope is that my readers will just get lost. That they will enter into the world I create, fall in love with the people there, experience their passions and their heart-break and their joy. I want readers to fall in love.

LK: Kathleen, thanks so much for visiting with us! I’ll be reading more of your work and I hope those who haven’t yet will give it a try. Depraved Heart sounds like a must-read. Before you go, are there any indie artists you’d like to give a shout out? Personal site links welcome.

KV: I love Billie Hinton's work. I think she is one of the most superb indie writers out there. Also although Kiana Davenport has been traditionally published she is publishing some collections of short stories as an indie and has suffered for that from her traditional pulisher. She's a great supporter of indies so I want to mention her. I'm also a big fan of Andre Juté. His book Iditarod is one of the best indie books I've ever read.

KathleeenValentine-ErieLighthouseReaders, please check out Kathleen Valentine’s site. Along with her book info, you’ll find her design work, more interviews, and some great info on publishing!

Web site with blog and buy links:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/KathleenValentine


Jan 24, 2012

Inspirations #1

Where do you get your inspiration?

That’s a question often asked of artists. It’s not always simple to answer, as it can be something as big as a major world event that’s all over the newspapers or as small as watching a couple argue and then hug and wondering about the story behind it.

I’ve been working on a new artsy project: cover design. It’s not terribly new, since I’ve done all of my own (and sometimes more than once) and I’ve done a couple for other authors. But I’m branching out. See, I love my lust for amateur photography. I have tons of incredible photos from around the U.S. and from a few other countries. Most are nature-centered. Many are buildings I found fascinating. A few are random people who happened to be posed in a way I found artistic. (If I use the people, it will be only after stylized in some art form so they are not recognizable.) I often look through and think they should be on a book cover.

I’ve taken art and design classes. Still, when I go into an endeavor such as this, I want to study others. I want to get a feel for what’s out there. I want to make note of what draws me in and what doesn’t.

Ever since I started doing my covers, I’ve paid close attention to what’s out there, to what pulls me in or turns me away. But it’s more than the basic design and colors. It’s the artwork. Photographic people on a cover turn me away. Maybe it feels too personal. I like actual art and photography on covers.

I won’t go into that more since I’m guest blogging on Thomas Wilson’s blog on Thursday to talk about the art of cover design.

What I want to share here is a few links I’ve followed in my search for what’s happening in cover design and in fine art these days.

thebookdesigner.com is holding a monthly contest for authors and designers to enter their work for judging/comments. Scroll through some of the entries and read the comments about what this blog owner/designer believes works and doesn’t.

indiearts.com is a place for established independent fine and graphic artists to display their work. What some of these artists have created is truly amazing. Two of my favorites here: Dan Witz and Terry Strickland. (Be aware, as in most art sites, some content is adult natured and graphic.)

There’s also deviantart.com which allows users to sign up and add their work without being screened.

Of course you can also go to bookcoverarchive.com and flip through their thousands of archived published book covers.

Do you have a favorite website for artistic inspiration in the visual arts? Share it here!


Jan 17, 2012

475 Hours (or.. authors, know thy craft!)

On the average, it takes 475 hours to write a novel (bookstatistics.com).

Of course that’s your average-sized novel and your averagely experienced writer. Size matters (in writing time, it does!) and so does experience. As I’ve progressed in my writing career, I see that it takes less and less time to create each new novel (averaging out by length). Does that mean I’m putting less effort into it? Not at all. It means practice works, that exercising my writing muscles make them function better, that stories come out more smoothly than they used to so there’s less starting and stopping.

Either way, 475 hours divided by 40 hour weeks equals right at 12 weeks of work, or roughly 3 months. That’s for an average length novel, remember. Most self-pubbed authors average around 200 sales of one book. If you figure an average of $2 royalty per book, that’s $400 for 3 months of work. Some make drastically less. Some explode (very few, mind you) and make drastically more. But on the average, keep in mind that $33 a week “salary” from the book you spent 475 hours writing.

Still interesting in being an indie author? Great! Then go for it! If the numbers scare you, walk away very slowly and search for a different route or a different job.

[Please be aware this is a very unscientific assumption based only on what I’ve heard passed around as far as sales. It is NOT meant to be quoted as statistical fact; it’s only for demonstration purposes.]

So, if you’re still hanging around and considering the self-pub path, you have very large … uh, amounts of determination or belief in your work or both. Good for you! There will be many, many times you’ll change your mind about both of those things while walking (or trudging) the path. We all do. Okay, 99.89 percent of us do (as a guess, of course; I didn’t do a survey).

What’s the point, here? The point is that with the odds so against you and with the simple fact that there are more indie books every year, you need to do what you can to help yourself, and the rest of us.

How? STUDY your craft!


I understand why self-pub authors have such a bad rep. It’s because it’s terribly easy to put out your own books these days and there are no filters other than savvy readers who know to check the publisher before they buy, and honestly, too many of these books are not worth more than $33 a week income. Sorry, but facts are facts. They aren’t worth more because too many authors just jump in and decide to write a book because they “can” without stopping to check on the “how” it should be done.

Like anything else, writing a novel is small part talent, large part technical skill. Or it should be. If you have this turned around, please do us all a favor and stop, listen, and learn. Take a class. Read a lot, preferably in several genres, not only your interest. Get critiques from strangers (not from loved ones). Know what POV, climax, denouement, plot, characterization, setting, mood, and theme mean and know how to use them. Things like poetic speech, sentence flow, and why you probably shouldn’t head hop are also good to know. Rules – please know the rules. Breaking the rules in fiction is fine, but know them first and know why you’re breaking them. Take a class! Yes, I said this already, but it deserves repetition (also know how to use repetition properly). There are a myriad of online learning classes for writers and specifically for novelists. Some are free. Many published authors will gladly give some free advice if you’re willing to listen. BE willing to listen! If an author says something like, “I’d like to discuss a couple of points about your book,” say THANK YOU for your time and then LISTEN. Don’t say, “Well, I don’t really want to work on this more.” Okay, then. You’ve lost respect and support and more importantly, you’ve lost potential readers who may catch what that author wanted to tell you and decide not to bother again.

This is a tough road. Don’t make it even tougher on yourself, or on the rest of us. Know your craft. Study it and then continue to update your knowledge. READ! An author who doesn’t have time to read is an author who is not terribly read-worthy. If you never read fiction, don’t try to write it. If you never read horror, don’t try to write it. But do read outside your writing genre.

Indie publishing is not the easier path. It’s harder. It’s an uphill battle through swamp land and gators and ticks and leeches and other warriors trying to jump in front of you with more armor and more training. It’s also full of nay-saying critics who believe indie authors are those who couldn’t make the cut. Be ready for that. And be ready to defend your territory with the knowledge that you’ve spent the time to prepare for battle and can fight fire with fire instead of with a barely glowing sparkler.

And then, go out and break a leg!


Jan 10, 2012

A Few Facts about Indie Authors

As an introduction to this site, I thought we should start by clearing the air about what “indie” is all about.

Indie = independent.

Independent = paying your own way, creating your own path

An indie author is an author putting her own work out, paying for the publishing and distribution of her books. She may get help with this, just as an independent business hires desk help, etc., but it’s her call and her funds. She’s not contracted to someone who calls the shots, who says yes or no, who has everything done for her. She does or overseas everything and she says yes or no.

An indie publisher is someone who accepts manuscripts by other authors and pays to have them published, overseeing all of the details related to getting a book out, from formatting to cover design. They’re the small pubs, privately owned, and often a one person operation (again, with some paid help).

Authors published by indie publishers are not indie authors. They are small press authors. If you submitted your work for acceptance or rejection and they’re putting their company ISBN on your book, you are not an indie author. You’re traditionally published.

That said, there are some misconceptions about self-published, or indie, authors. Let me clear some of that up.

~ Not all indies are indie because they could not get published traditionally. This is the biggest myth that needs to be squelched. Many of us decided not to go the traditional path, not to ask someone if our work should be published, not to wait around and sent query after query for months or years just to have our books sit on a secretary’s desk for her to not be “in the right mood” for that kind of book on the day she happens to look at it. Yes, that happens. Some of us don’t want to write what’s selling at the moment. We don’t want to stick with the A B C plot or the specific word count within 20 characters of too many or not enough. We want to write what we need to write, the stories that truly matter to us, that we need to share. We don’t listen to “no one wants to read that kind of story” because you know what? Maybe they do. And according to how well indies are selling their “oddball” stories, apparently they do.

~ There is not only one way to do it “right.” There are a myriad of methods available, many of which are quite respectable, and authors need to find what works for them and for their personal goals. Yes, there are better and worse ways of going about things, but wrong is a judgment call (so is better and worse).

~ One that makes me cringe: “all vanity publishing is bad.”
No. Not when they’re calling it “vanity publishing” to hire a company to help format and distribute your work, to use their ISBN and company name so you don’t have to create your own and deal with the legalities of that. There’s nothing wrong with going that way if it suits your needs. Just be careful. There are reputable companies offering these services. There are also some horribly non-reputable companies doing the same. Research! But just because a “vanity” press name is on a book, that does not mean the author is was wrong to go that way and it doesn’t mean lack of quality. Give them a chance. Check out excerpts and think for yourself.

~ Another that makes me cringe: “authors must make use of Amazon.”
No. Many indie authors sell much better on other sites in other stores and make better profits from each sale that way. Readers will go where authors send them if they’re interested. Exclusivity is not the path indies should follow. We need to be out there as everywhere as we can be. Indies are Amazon’s sucker deals. We can price our books at .99 if we wish and many will just for the chance at numbers and rankings. Big publishers, however, will not go for this tactic with their books. They will not be exclusive. They will not give their books away. They want sales from wherever readers shop. We should, too. Amazon is using indies and small press authors willing to give their books for free or for .99 in order to pull readers in so they will then buy full price books from the big pubs, since they are there anyway. I won’t play that game, which is why you won’t find my ebooks there. Be careful about exclusivity or selling yourself short. In every part of life, when you sell yourself short, others will, also.

~ Not all indie books are badly in need of editing. Yes, many are. I admit that many are and too many authors throw their books out long before they are ready. Granted. I resent when they do this because it makes it harder on those of us who have studied the craft, who work hard to edit and rewrite and re-edit and pay attention to style and grammar and pesky little book things such as plot, climax, and denouement. Some of us indies do know what those things are and we actually use them. My advice to potential readers: insist on excerpts long enough to see the author’s writing style and technique before you buy. But please, don’t dismiss all of us because too many are too unprofessional. I have read indie books that were much better than big pub books. I have also read indie books that screamed, “the author has never studied writing in her life!” *sigh*

The big benefit for readers that so many are going indie? Choice. You’ll find any topic in any mix of genre under the sun in indie fiction. Indie screams Variety! Creativity! Imagination! and … Freedom.

If you haven’t tried an indie book lately, or ever, give one a try. Look for a mix of Huck Finn, Jane Eyre, Godzilla, & Harry Potter all in one novel. I bet you might find it!

LK Hunsaker

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