Most self-published, or otherwise independently published, authors are aware of the phenomenon known as #IndieBooksBeSeen. This movement of mutual support originated with one creative and energetic individual—Mark Shaw. A YA and fantasy author, Mark is known in the world of social media as “Keeper of The Wind,” after the title of his book.
Mark is a native of Baltimore MD and now resides in Vancouver BC. I was flattered when he reached out to me in the summer of 2014—as he reached out to many other authors, as well—inviting us to take part in the first Indie Pride Day. He urged us all to take a photo of ourselves with our book covers, then to tweet these and RT others on July 1st. Voilá #IndieBooksBeSeen.
I asked Mark to comment on his experience with independent publishing and the need for mutual support.
Since releasing my first novel, The Keeper of The Wind, one thing I noticed on social media was the frenzied way everyone seemed to be promoting their books. It seemed crazy how indie authors were basically begging for someone to either buy their book or take a look at it for free. Social media is saturated with this. I found it discouraging and wondered how I could compete amid such chaos.
I’m sure many new authors feel the same way. As a creative person, I started thinking of ways to get around the frantic hustle of endless promotions. There must be alternatives for getting my book to the hands of readers.
A few days after putting my book out, I received a note from another indie author asking how my book was selling and what I was doing to promote it. He told me his current book wasn’t selling well at all. Even so, he was in the process of releasing his 4th novel.
I thought this was crazy.
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Soon after, I read an article titled “Keep Your Day Job.” It broke down how very few indie authors are making money at their craft. The chances of being able to make a decent living from writing are slim to none. This pissed me off, and I saw it as challenge for change.
With this notion, I came up with the #IndieBooksBeSeen movement. The first thing I set out to do was to make July 1st of every year #IndieBooksBeSeen day, a day when indie authors show the world that we’re united and proud to be indie. It started with posting a picture of ourselves holding up our indie titles and then retweeting everyone’s else’s book for the world and all social media to see—one grand gesture to show the world that we’re here and strong together.
It was a bigger success than I thought it would be, and I was very moved by others’ warm sentiments and sense of pride. This gave me hope, and I felt encouraged to forge ahead with a new plan while the momentum was still strong. I decided to try giving struggling authors a boost by challenging others to review their books. I know what it’s like to just start out and struggle for reviews, unless you pay for them.
So I felt this would be an easy challenge, but boy was I wrong! I urged several participants to give it a try on our indie pride day, thinking they were still feeling the love from #indiebooksbeseen a couple of weeks before. Right away one person said she felt like she was getting spammed by me. I thought, wow! But it wasn’t spam when tons of others spent hours retweeting your title. To make things worse, the review challenge never took flight. Out of all the people I reached out to, only a few took part.
What this said to me was that most indie authors will only get involved in projects that are self-serving to their own cause, unless they’re part of a group. I want indie books to be the cool alternative to mainstream books. The only way I can see this happening is if we become one voice for the industry itself. I’m not saying don’t promote your book, I’m just asking you to give some of your energy to boosting our industry. Because when the light shines on our industry, it’ll shine on all of us.
A couple of questions—
Anesa: Will the #IndieBooksBeSeen event happen on Twitter again this year?
MarktheShaw: Yes our Indie Pride Day is coming around again and I’m excited! My hope is that people will see us as an olive branch for hope.
Anesa: The point you raise about reviews is very important. I totally agree that we must support each other with reviews as best we can because the traditional media is obviously not going to do it! But in all honesty, we know there are many unedited books out there, some of which were mainly published for the writer’s family and not so much for the public at large. Wading through many books to find one that we can give a good review can take up a good deal of time…
MarktheShaw: When indie authors decide to put out a book, we want them to know right away that we’re here for them to help on all levels.
Thanks so much Mark for your positive attitude and energy. I hope we can bring a bit more attention to the cause this year. Best wishes to you always–
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Connect with @MarkThe Shaw on Twitter
and on Facebook.
Visit his Amazon author page.
Search the hashtag for an overview of #IndieBooksBeSeen.
Blessed are those who organize among themselves to get around the system! For all those who rise to occasion and support one another, I say, “You make the future and you are the future.” Thanks a bunch
Good to hear from you! I totally agree that we must help each other and ourselves in this era of dominant corporate control of the arts. Hope you can visit the blog again soon.
I have to mark my calendar so I don’t forget to do something special for July1st. I discovered #indiebooksbeseen not too long after it started and I think it’s a great idea and do try to participate and help.
So glad you could stop by, Patricia. You raise an important point–July 1st is coming and I hope we all make an effort to do as you suggest. Like my friend Paula says, “Helping each other: that’s what we’re here for.” <3
Hope you can visit again!