Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's Time to Break Out!

By Rebecca Forster

Three years ago I took the plunge and left traditional publishing. It felt like walking off a cliff. Gone were the editors, designers, agents, and booksellers. It was me, my words, and my computer.  I thought I was isolated, but boy was I wrong.

There is a diverse community ready, willing, and able to help indie authors publish their books. Early on, though, I found authors were mostly talking to authors. For all of us the challenge wasn’t writing, it was figuring out where we fit into this new publishing paradigm. How would we get noticed? Who would read our books? Would our work be considered lesser because we published independently? The answers, initially, were not in the author’s favor.  It was when I read an article about Smashwords, a digital publishing house run by Mark Coker, that I was inspired to move forward boldly. With his encouragement, I believed the best was yet to come. 

Mark is a standard bearer for the democratization of creativity. He believes that everyone should have the opportunity to publish their book if they have the courage to write it. The last few years have seen Smashwords grow to a major force in a vital and ever-changing, industry.  Recently, though, an even more encouraging and exciting layer was added to the indie experience. Apple launched a unique section in iBookstore called Breakout Books featuring indie authors. They launched as only Apple can: hugely, brightly, and proudly.

This move was hailed by Smashwords as unprecedented, and the New York Times equated Apple’s Breakout Book feature to ‘front of the store’ space in brick and mortar stores. I was thrilled that Hostile Witness was chosen to be part of launch, but also realized that this new feature signaled a change in the psyche of the industry.  Writers helped one another, innovators like Mark Coker actually admired us, and now iBookstore was wrapping our work up in ribbons and bows and presenting it to the reading public without apology.

What does this mean for you, the author? It means you have true friends in high places to champion, encourage, and promote your work. Don’t hesitate a moment longer.  Start the journey with these five steps:

1)    Write the best book you can
2)    Educate yourself about the business (technical and creative)
3)    Reach out to individual authors and online groups respectfully
4)    Reciprocate when you have information to share
5)    Support indie writers. Read and analyze their work

Be bold. Be brave. Break out – with a little help from your friends.

Find Breakout Books here:
NY Times on Apple’s Breakout Books:
Mark Coker on Breakout Books:
Hostile Witness on iBooks:

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