With a foot in both camps, indie author, poet and musician Jessica Bell is in a great position to compare and contrast the worlds of indie publishing and indie music.
Indie publishing already allows writers of all stripes access to the world’s readers.The industry has changed. A lot. It’s been forced into embracing the digital revolution, just like the music industry was.
Independent artists are everywhere now. And authors don’t self-publish because they’re too lazy to go through the slog of submitting queries to agents, or editing their manuscripts properly, or simply out of impatience to see their work in print, just like independent musicians aren’t too lazy to find a record deal. They simply have a different sound. Or they don’t want to be told by a record label what they should and shouldn’t record.
In a saturated market, where publishers/music producers have millions and millions of queries and proposals, independent artists are driven by self-belief and a passion that their work deserves a place.
Indie Publishing – Playing Catch-Up with Indie Music
But the indie publishing scene still has quite a way to go to match the acceptance the indie music scene has acquired since the advent of Internet downloads and torrents. And to be honest, I still don’t understand why it is taking so long.
There really is no reason for people to be turning up their noses at self-published books. Let’s look at where the indie music scene currently stands. I bet you can replace the music-related words with author/book-related words and each point would represent the indie publishing scene to a tee. As you will see, there is really no reason why we should still be looked down upon.
- Indie musicians thrive on the freedom it gives them to be more creative and produce music that is true to their own vision. This attracts listeners who are after something different than the mainstream.
- Indie musicians do not define themselves by their label; they define themselves by the music they produce. They are their own brand.
- Listeners love to explore new music and new sounds, always in search for their next favourite band, regardless of how the album was produced, released, or even whether it’s digital, CD or vinyl. (Vinyl is back with a vengeance, by the way. What does that tell you about the future of the paperback?)
- With the digital revolution, it’s more convenient to listen to samples online, and decide whether it’s something you really want to purchase. So there is no logical reason to complain that there is too much crappy music out there, because you can always sample before you buy.
- When listeners are after something new, they will search the style of music they enjoy (rock, pop, folk, etc), not which record label they are being distributed by. In fact, listeners who love to explore indie music will very rarely take notice of the record label, if ever.
- With the digital revolution, music is cheaper, more is being downloaded and listened to than ever before. There is room for everyone.
- Indie musicians decide when to release their work, how to release their work, which venues to play gigs at, what merchandise to sell, how many videos to upload to YouTube, how much they are going to sell their albums for, blah blah blah. No one holds them back. They have complete control.
- Indie musicians do not limit which format people can purchase their albums in. At every merchandise stall I’ve perused at a gig by an indie artist, they have everything available to you. If you purchase a CD, they’ll also give you a card, with a link to download the MP3s, etc. They have embraced the change. And they do their best to roll with the times. After all, it’s the music that is important here. Not what it’s packaged in.
Notice how completely identical all this is to independent publishing? The indie music scene is no longer ridiculed for the less-than-perfect work out there. And more and more musicians are being discovered and loved. Because people have a choice. People can distinguish between what’s good and bad, what’s their cup of tea and what isn’t. So why all the fuss?
It’s time to face the music. We are all independent artists, and we are here to stay.
And if you’re afraid traditional publishing is going down the tubes, I think you’re wrong. There is always a way for both indie and traditional to thrive.
All we need to do is plug our microphones into the same amplifier.