You should read more indie books.
There, I’ve said it.
But I really do think it’s true. I think readers, as a group, should make an effort to read more independently published books. It probably won’t be the easiest thing to do,. I will be the first to admit there are some wretched books lurking in the indie slushpile. I’ve tried to read quite a few of them myself. But sifting through the chaff can and will result in positive things. You, the reader, the reading community, and the author of these books will all benefit. Let’s take a look at why.
1. Choose your own adventure—with no middle man
Ever since books became widely available via the printing press, there have been people acting as a filter between you and the writer. I speak of the large publishing houses.
These people are the ones who decided what you wanted to read. They determine what was worthy of being published and what wasn’t. This means publishing has been boiled down to a formula. X +y = sales, and as a result you see the same formulas over and over again. That’s what business is all about, making money. Now don’t think I’m faulting them for it, that’s just one of the less pretty truths about the business side of art.
That being said, this arrangement never made much sense to me, I’ve always felt like I knew what I liked to read a great deal more than some sir or madam that doesn’t even know I exist. Self publishing has removed this filter, and it can be a wonderful thing. Now it is much easier for authors to be in direct contact with their readership. Authors can bring readers exactly what they ask for and want to read without having to jump through the flaming hoops presented to them by big publishing houses. Now they can write about whatever they want. Cross genre books that previously would have never made it to market can now do so. In the end this means more books about more stuff, with more things! As a reader, this should excite you.
2. Stretch your book budget
Still not excited? There are a bunch of reasons you should be, and price is a big one. If you read frequently, your book budget is probably a significant chunk of cash. If you read indie you’ll stretch your dollar much further. Since an indie publisher doesn’t have the overhead associated with a large publishing house and can make more per book of each sale, this allows them to price their books much lower than traditionally published books, and they usually do.
3. Support the author and the art
Maybe you require a sense of duty? Well, indie authors need your help. If you look at independent books versus other independent forms of art, say music for example, independent books lack the user-supported infrastructure some of them enjoy. Indie publishing has a miasma clinging to it for, and this foul mist has done quite a bit of thinning in the last few years, but it is still there. Conversely, indie music is largely seen as cool, and has a supporting infrastructure. Just look at the number of publications and organizations based around music versus the number based around writing. There is no indie writer equivalent of Pitchfork.com (as far as I know, if there is please comment.) The only regular writing publication I know of is Writer’s Digest, but I can list Rolling Stone, Vibe, and Billboard off the top of my head. (Granted, we’ve wandered out of ‘indie’ territory here, but I believe this example still illustrates a valid point.)
There are tens, maybe even hundreds, possibly even thousands of other reasons to read and support indie authors. I’ve only listed the three that I have the most experience with. Maybe you’ve had experience with some other reasons? If you have, leave me a comment and share your experiences. If you have no experiences? Try an indie book and see for yourself.