What comfort zone?

One of the most scary and wonderful aspects of starting to write book reviews, and beta reading manuscripts is that I am no longer sticking to my tried and true favorite genres, known authors or previously published authors. I started participating in a contest to read and review 15 Indie authors in 15 weeks. While I know I won’t get to that goal, I am using the contest guidelines to inform my reading choices. For the first time in my life, I’m predominantly reading self-, indie- and small-press authors, and discovering some amazing writers! I’m out of my literary comfort zone and it’s starting to feel a little like ziplining! It’s a terrifying thing, to have so many options and very few ways of weeding through them. It’s also something I’m deeply satisfied that I’m doing.

Recently, I read a first novel by an author who self-published on Amazon. Her book is If the Light Would Stay and she writes under the name of J.G. Lucas. I found her book through a discussion in a Facebook group we both belong to, where she introduced herself and was seeking help in promoting her book. I volunteered to read and review it after reading its synopsis on Amazon. I couldn’t put it down, and have since reviewed it on Amazon and here, at 1thoughtfulreader. I’ve also started corresponding with the author, and am looking forward to working with her as a beta team member for her second book (currently in process) and possibly some minor editorial changes to her first book.

In order to start that book, I actually put aside another book I’d started that I was finding disturbing and compelling, by turns. That book is by an established, award winning author, who also self-publishes on Amazon. That book is titled Maizy Baby, by Julie Frayn, and deals with the very difficult subject of domestic violence. I’m finding it hard to read, but also very well written and compelling.

I’ve also just picked up The Angry Women Suite by Lee Fulbright, which tells the story of a family through three different lenses, and time frames. It also includes domestic violence and child abuse, and I’ve only just finished the first few chapters. Each character telling the story has a different and distinct voice. This is a technique that seems to me incredibly difficult to master well, but Fulbright is doing a masterful job of it.

None of these books are typical subject matter for me to read, and all of them are extremely well written, and evoke their characters and locations with a great deal of skill. Which brings me (finally!!!) to the main point of this post. There are extraordinarily talented writers out there who are not going the traditional publishing route. They may ‘go it alone’ or find a curated self-publishing house, or a small independent press. But they are risk-takers, and entrepreneurs. Many of them have little experience with self-promotion. Many of them use someone they know and trust as an editor. Some put a hefty chunk of their own money into cover design and even audio-book recording. Their voices deserve attention. Their creativity is worth paying money for. And I’m getting quite an education on just how much talent, and stubbornness, exists in the world of independent publishing.

For additional insight into self-publishing and other “non-traditional” publishing outlets, take a look at http://indiereader.com/ and http://www.molly-greene.com/ , http://selfpubbookexpo.com/ (not even a small handful of some of the excellent web resources and blog sites out there dedicated to the indie and self-publishing world), or just google Indie Publishing or Self-publishing. There is so much information out there it’s mind-boggling; a sea of ostensibly helpful, but ultimately overwhelming and confusing advice for writers who are gifted at creating a written work, but may be not quite as gifted at self-editing, self-promotion and selling.

This is turning into a helluva ride.

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3 Comments

Filed under Occasional Deep Thoughts, Uncategorized

3 responses to “What comfort zone?

  1. Hey Wendy–really great post. I applaud you for shining a light on independent authors. Everyone deserves a chance to be heard by someone that can substantiate the quality of their writing. Not only to gain them additional readers who trust your review, but also to give them the validation that they need to continue doing what they do in the path of so many obstacles that, at times, must seem insurmountable. I think what you are doing is laudable and I hope that you find a way to make a difference for yourself, as well as these entrepreneurial writers.

  2. Well said. I find that I’m becoming something of an indie evangelist, not just for myself but for other indies like Lee Fulbright who are writing worthy books. I loved The Angry Woman Suite. There are definitely some difficult parts to read, but it’s one of those books that you read more than once.

  3. Wendy, I am so excited about what you are doing, and I can’t wait to see where it leads. And I’m not just saying that because of all the nice things you said about me and my book. Indie authors really need people with your enthusiasm and talents to shine a spotlight on the potential out there. It’s an exciting new world.

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