Let your indie freak flag fly

Apparently July 1 is Indie Pride Day, which I have to confess is not on the long list of holidays I traditionally celebrate—mostly because this is the first I’ve heard about it. But it’s got a hashtag, or two of them (#IndiePrideDay and #IndieBooksBeSeen), so you know it’s a legitimate holiday.

I’m not entirely certain what my plans are on this auspicious day, but the core truth of being an indie author is that any opportunity or excuse for self-promotion is a necessary one so I guess it’s time to self-promote. If I sound somewhat ambiguous on the subject of this holiday it’s likely because I’m still learning to accept the “indie” part of my indie author status. In theory, few words are more empowering and meaningful than independent. In reality, when I imagined my career as an author, there was always a publisher in the picture. Going it alone requires more work, less validation, and no small degree of embarrassment over my illegitimate books.

The stigma is diminishing, of course, as independent authors produce books with the same attention to design and detail that they would likely receive in the hands of many publishers. We’re learning. We work with proofreaders, cover designers, and illustrators. We spend what little spare time we have researching the market and promoting our illegitimate children with varying degrees of competence and enthusiasm. In the last month, I’ve spent two weeks obsessively researching and downloading fonts before settling on my choice for my third book. It felt like a monumental decision, but it was one of hundreds—and that’s once the book is written.

In honor of Indie Pride Day I’ve compiled a list of 9 ways to support the indie author in your life (don’t worry: most of them don’t involve spending money).

  1. Buy the book. Or ebook.
  2. Talk about the book across your social media channels. Post photos or quotes or reviews on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Periscope, and anything else you have access to.
  3. Write a review for the book on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog, and anywhere else that happens to be applicable. It doesn’t have to be a glowing, five-star review. Just be honest. What did you like about the book? What didn’t you like about the book? And feel free to mention how you know the author.
  4. Ask your local library to carry the book. Most libraries have a book request form online and filling it out takes less than five minutes. You’re not making your friend a fortune, but you are ensuring that their work gets read and that’s likely more important.
  5. Offer to be a beta reader. It’s hard work and a lot of responsibility but beta readers perform a vital service for a writer and few people have as much influence.
  6. Leverage your unique skills or profession. Work in a store? Offer to carry the book. Part of a book club? Ask to have the book featured. Part of a club or organization? Ask if the writer can speak or sell her book at an event.
  7. Leave a copy of the book in a local Little Free Library.
  8. Read to your child or someone else’s child or volunteer with a literacy organization. This won’t directly help your friend, but by promoting literacy, you’re helping all authors and, more importantly, society at large.
  9. Talk to your friend about her book. When you spend so much time creating everything in your head by yourself, it’s really hard to know what you’re doing right and what needs work. Tell your friend who your favorite character was, what your favorite passage was, and (ever so gently) what you liked least or didn’t make sense.

Suggestions? What do you think is a good way to support the independent artists in your life?

And trust me, your indie author buddy friend will remember every gesture of support for the rest of her life. You may even find yourself in the dedications and acknowledgements page.

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