Category Archives: Websites

Indie Authors: The New Punks

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We’ve all heard about the self-publishing revolution in books in the last few years with Amazon Kindle and all the other e-readers and websites. I was watching a BBC documentary called ArtsNight last week and the presenter made an interesting point: punk rock bands were the first indie authors. They learned their three chords, set up their own bands and, in some cases, record labels and self-published their own music. They took control of their own destinies in the same way novelists did recently. Even the punk fanzines were do-it-yourself wonders; stapled together, photocopied and distributed through record stores, mailing lists, by hand and by word-of-mouth in those pre-pre-internet days.

It’s a very cogent analogy. As with the self-published books, some of the DIY punk music that was put out was awful, but some of it has reached classic status in hindsight. Self-publishing until recently was called “vanity publishing,” but writers were no longer prepared to sit on their hands waiting months for a form rejection letter. They too seized their own destinies through the technology that was around them and turned the publishing industry on its head.

The Martian Book

Movies are even being made from self-published books for the first time like Ridley Scott’s The Martian starring Matt Damon and a future fantasy film that 20th Century Fox has purchased the rights to called Fall of Gods (even after that movie deal was signed, the book was taken down from Amazon due to formatting issues, the bane of indie authors everywhere. Luckily, it didn’t impact on the movie deal and Fox could see the merit of what was there despite the flaws.)

Fall of Gods

Punks and indie authors are strange bedfellows indeed, but both groups were and are pioneers in their fields. While the punk movement didn’t manage to overthrow the mainstream in the same way hippies in the previous generation hadn’t, they democratised their art form and showed others what was possible with self-belief and a little effort. Just as indie authors did. The shockwaves of the indie author revolution are still spreading out from the epicentre and nobody really knows where it will stop or what comes next. The most important thing is that books that would have gathered dust in drawers and on hard drives and memory sticks are now finding a worldwide audience. That can only be a good thing.

© Stewart Stafford, 2016. All rights reserved.

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The Writer’s Web

“Write what you know.” It’s probably the biggest cliché there is in writing, but everything we write is about us whether we realise it or not. I’ve written a fantasy novel on the origin of vampires called The Vorbing, which you might think is completely divorced from reality and from myself as a person, but you’d be wrong. It has my imagination in it, my sense of humour and, you could argue, that the structure of the world I have created in some way reflects my perspective (obviously, there are embellishments that do not tally with how I see things, but you get my point).

Mary Shelley was 18 years old when she wrote the novel Frankenstein in the year 1816, now what could a young woman of that time possibly know about a man making a creature from the body parts of dead people? More than you would think. Mary Shelley gave birth to a premature baby girl that died. She had a dream that she put the child in front of the fire and warmed it up to bring it back to life which became the basis of her book. So she was working out her grief, fears and desires through the framework of the story.

Which brings me to the next fork in the road. I’ve read contradictory advice on writing this week. One website said that you should not even commit one word to paper before thinking about your audience and who wants to read it. Then a writer’s magazine I read today said that you should only write what you are passionate about. I have to say I agree with the latter. All the great writers wrote classic books because they were obsessed with the story, it wouldn’t leave them alone until they wrote it. The idea of tailoring what you’re writing in advance for the market seems cold, calculating and cynical to me. It smacks of hack work, to be honest, although there are some writers than can and do write like that and make a very good living out of it. I would not be one of them. I guess when it comes to book sales, you’re back to Quality Vs Quantity. I’d much rather have a book I’m passionate about out there that a few people are reading, than a piece of fluff that sells twenty thousand copies. Sure, having the money would be better but you can’t take it with you when you go. Only the work remains and that is the true test of time.

© 2014, Stewart Stafford. All rights reserved.