I’m a music nut, as most of my family and friends know. I love music in all its forms (with the exception of country music; sorry!) and I listen to it constantly. My iPod is filled with an eclectic brew of sounds from different genres from around the world and I am constantly seeking new music and artists to add to my collection. And it doesn’t matter to me what the source of this music is, be it the latest artist of the major companies or a street musician I happen to come across at a local festival. If I like it, I’ll buy it. It’s simple as that.
I also love to read, which is why I love independent writing. Up until very recently my only source for books was the local bookstore and my only choice was books by writers supported by the major publishers. That wasn’t a bad thing; I’ve read some great, good and terrible books over the years. Up until recently a family tradition was to go to the local Barnes and Noble on Fridays to peruse the shelves and purchase books. Our local B&N has since closed and I miss it terribly, but that’s fuel for another discussion.
As a long time science fiction and fantasy fan I’ve noticed the homogenization of the genres over the years. It was hard to select a book because, quite frankly, they all looked and read the same. There was also a growing sense of dissatisfaction as well. I wanted to see books with people of African descent as the main characters, and in science fiction and fantasy that was nearly non-existent on the shelves. I became so disillusioned that I abandoned both genres, restricting my reading to non-fiction, mainly history.
It wasn’t until I decided to self publish my own books that I discovered independent writers in the science fiction and fantasy genre. These writers not only pulled me back into reading fiction, they also drew me back to reading mainstream science fiction and fantasy as well. I was now presented with a situation that resembled my search and enjoyment of music. Not only was I exposed to thousands of new writers, I also discovered writers who focused on characters of African descent as well as offered fresh and exciting perspectives to the genre I love so much.
Now I’ve heard all the arguments against the independent market and here’s what I think. I appreciate the gatekeepers protecting me from bad writing and inferior product, but I must remind them that I’ve bought some well edited and beautiful books that sucked. Quality is an issue with many independent books but it hasn’t devolved my reading experience. Then there’s the argument about how will the poor reader sift through this mass of independent product. I purchase independent books the same way I purchase mainstream books; through word of mouth, reviews and instinct. And as much as major publishers are proud of their status, I’m just a reader and like my music it doesn’t matter to me what the source is, as long as it’s good.
So writers, keep writing and I’ll keep reading. It doesn’t matter to me how your books get to me as long as they get to me. If it’s good, then I’m good. It’s really that simple.