“Where there is no gift there is no art,” says Lewis Hyde, in The Gift: How The Creative Spirit Transforms The World.
As we count down to IndieReCon, a three-day online conference to which a number of outstanding authors, publishing professionals, and author services have contributed so generously, I've been thinking about something Hyde said, when being interviewed about his book: “Certain spheres of life which we care about are not well organized by the marketplace. That includes artistic practice… but also pure science, spiritual life, healing and teaching.”
A publishing mindset that over-emphasises the bottom line, elevates marketing over editorial, and opts for easy wins in the marketplace ( another 50 shades of Jamie Oliver, anyone?) turns bookstores into dry, sterile, uncreative spaces.
Hyde's slow, scholarly book unpicks the difference between such an economic approach and the free creative spirit that circulates among writers and artists — along the way, taking in what it means to be gifted; how artists and writers share their gifts; and how we keep alive the great gift of creative exchange.
There is no more inspiring example of Hyde's theory than the indie author community.
Authors Working Together For Each Other
As I watched IndieReCon 2015 come together over the past weeks, I realised just how much the exchange of talent and knowledge and information between authors is feeding the creative transformation of our industry.
I'm not talking here about those writers producing works that are too experimental, radical or boundary pushing for corporate publishing. I'm talking how indie authors of all kinds and in all genres share their gifts — their talents and tools — with each other, and their readers, and the wider publishing world.
Free author-to-author information and peer-education has been the driver of the self-publishing revolution. And camaraderie, mutual support and encouragement and sharing of information and knowledge define our days.
Without authors willing to share with each other the nitty-gritty details of what has worked for them, and equally important, what has not, authors would be still in the hands of companies that have little interest in books or literature or writers, whose motivation is profit, not publication.
When we started to plan IndieReCon earlier this year, we sent an email to advisors and authors and experts, asking them to donate their expertise, so we could keep the conference free and accessible to authors everywhere.
This is so true – I am humbled by the generosity and supportiveness of the self-publishing industry. I would probably be months/years off my current trajectory were it not for all the amazing people who have provided practical advice and inspiration (mostly for free). Starting with Joanna Penn – the first blog I subscribed to. The writing was the easy bit for me, but the marketing and publishing were daunting. Thank you to everyone for your tips and guidance!