The Bane of Indie Publishing

The Epic of Gilgamesh, the most popular indie book in history

One of the things that I’ve been recently encountering is a certain amount of hostility for Indie publishers; and by that I mean, independent authors. Some of the noise that is being made revolves around the sole fact that indie books are not professionally published, ergo, they cannot be considered, “real books.”

Some have criticized the advent of the indie publishing phase as a death-blow to either the publishing industry as a whole; good literature as a whole; and a means for people to make a fast buck off of swindling others into buying their fifteen page self-help book on how to make money writing and independently publishing a book.

To the first two of those, I can only say, “Phem!” The written word has been around long before the modern critics were a cosmic speck in sands of time; and I have no doubt that the written word will exist in some form long after they are gone. As for the last part of their complaint, I can see their point; writers that write a book just to mislead others into buying their swill are nothing more than scoundrels and crooks. But I’d like to take a look at this practice of writing and examine some of the claims that indie writing is wrong, and what constitutes a book.

To do this, we have to take a look at a person called, Gilgamesh. He was a King of Uruk in ancient Mesopotamia (2700BC), whose exploits were written about on tablets about 600 BC, by a man called Sin-Leqi-Unninni; and have since been the subject of many revisions, rewrites and has pretty much fallen into the accumulated annals of antiquity. The Epic of Gilgamesh as a story is probably in the top five oldest written books ever. Granted, the story wasn’t written on paper, it probably didn’t have a proofreader, it was not edited for correctness, and it didn’t get taken from publishing house to publishing house in an attempt to get a sale. But no student of literature, mythology, or ancient writing can say they’ve never heard the name of Gilgamesh.

One of the things that I’d like to point out to anyone reading this article, and is a book reader—not a writer—is that the definition of a book has really been altered in the past decade, now, you don’t need physical pages for something to be considered a book. Digital media has been accused of harming the physical media industry, and yet, I don’t see any decline in printed paperbacks and hardbacks whenever I wander into a Barnes & Noble book store.

Having said that, I’d like to address some issues. Continue reading

The Discipline of Writing

I was reading over some messages from some followers on the internet, and one question struck me pretty deeply.

“A writer can gain knowledge, style and clarity, but how does one gain discipline in the craft?”

I read this late last night, and decided that it would be best to ponder my response. After all, we are all struggling with our own place in the writing world; we each have our own reasons for writing, and wanting to write, and to take it beyond that, and attempt to refine our skills through self-discipline was something I had never been asked. I can’t say that I am overly dedicated to the craft as I probably should be… so I didn’t want to just throw out any old answer.

Having given it some thought, my response was pretty simple. I said, “Two things: recognizing that writing is not a hobby, or a weekend warrior’s game; and having a strong sense of desperation.”

I may have said the first part to get some attention; but the second part is absolutely true. For a lot of writers, the craft of writing is something that they dabble at, or attempt at doing. However, somewhere in there between writing down a whimsical story in afternoons, or in the few precious hours we have after work is not the same as truly sitting down and pushing ourselves to write a novel, or composition from start to finish. I’m not making light of those that do write only when they have the time, but when it goes from being a hobby to a job, then it needs to be approached as such, and understood as such.

Writing for me is an act of desperation. From the first word, to the very last word. I am hammering out a path in my future that I willfully want to happen. I won’t eat, or have money for my family, to say nothing of bills if I don’t push it to happen. No one else is going to write this book for me; no one will stand over my shoulder and lead me through the hard parts, and coach me to do better. The burden of responsibility rests solely on my own shoulders.

At some point, it stops being a hobby, and becames the career. For many of us, that alone is the nudge that we need to be self-disciplined. That is the straight and narrow, and that is the defining point.