On Monday my mother texted me to say ‘Looks like ASITW is very timely’. I texted back to say, ‘Haha, it always is’, and felt slightly smug about being with it for once.
Yesterday I looked at Twitter and discovered that I’d missed a good thirty per cent of an initiative that’s very relevant to my interests, as they say, and now I feel less smug.
#IndieAthon is a month-long celebration of self-published authors and small presses. The organisers have this to say:
Throughout the month you can read however many books you want, not all of them have to be for the readathon of course, but the goal is to read as many indie-published or self-published books as you want! The only limitation to what you can read is that it has to be either self-published or published by a small or independent publisher to count for the readathon. The books can be old, new, popular, unpopular, fiction, non-fiction, anything!
We also would really like you to post reviews of the books you read on Goodreads, Amazon and wherever else you want to post it! Reviews are so important for authors, and especially for smaller authors it can make a huge difference!
There’s a bingo card and everything!
So, hello, #IndieAthon, here I am, sneaking in through the back door, hanging my coat over a chair, grabbing a drink from a tray, and pretending I’ve been here all along.
Um. Er. Yes. Hello. I’m Kathleen Jowitt, and my book Speak Its Name* was the first self-published book ever to be shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize. I’m in the middle of preparing my second novel, A Spoke in the Wheel, for publication, and that’s my excuse for not having looked at Twitter properly all month.
I’m self-published and very glad of it. Why? One word. Freedom. Self-publishing gives me the freedom to do my own thing, and to do my own thing at my own pace. I’m only answerable to myself. I don’t have to worry about whether anybody actually wants to read a book about a Christian lesbian university student finding her way out of the closet, or, if they liked that, whether they’ll then be interested in a disgraced professional cyclist.
I don’t have to please other people to get my book into print. I just have to put the work in myself. I’m free to experiment, to tell the stories that nobody else tells.
And I’m free to do my own thing at my own pace. I’m the only person who gets to set me deadlines. If I decide that something needs an extra six months’ work to get it really good, I’m free to put those six months in. Conversely, if I have a spare couple of hours and I want to get going on the back cover copy or the front cover design, then I can do that. I don’t have to wait on decisions from anybody else.
Sometimes it’s a scary thing, this freedom. It means taking responsibility for every little thing. Every word that makes it into the finished book is there because I put it there, and it stays there because I didn’t take it out. I can – and I do – ask other people to read for inaccuracy and insensitivity, but the decision whether or not to respond with changes remains with me. The cover, typesetting and formatting, are exactly as good as I can get them.
Any errors or infelicities remaining, as it says on my acknowledgements page, are my own. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.