An Indie writer emailed me her new book to beta-read recently, mentioning that I’m a better writer than she is. I’ve reviewed her work before, which is a compelling, five-star read. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate compliments from my Indie colleagues, but the question remained in my mind: What makes one “a good writer?”
We know the classics: Works by Fitzgerald, Hemmingway, Austen, Tolkien, Orwell, Shakespeare, I could go on and on. By history, the work of classic writers lasts and doesn’t lose its gloss. (Though, I’ll be so bold to say Fitzgerald is a toughie.). Are classic writers living today? That’s debatable, so I tend to think of classics in the way the work stands up to history rather than “someone” telling me who’s great and who’s not. A writer shouldn’t require death to be thought of as classic. That sounds morbid, but it doesn’t need to be. The classic authors left us something to appreciate for decades and centuries.
Let’s move the literature to the works of today. From the hardback copies of Clancy, Grisham, Rowling and Franzen, to the ebooks of relatively unknown authors Butler, Schaffer, and Ahlborn, just to name a few, give us excellent reads today. Can we be so bold as to compare these new, especially the ebook authors to the hardback big names seen in bookstores? Or can we go further and compare any of these writers to the classics?
As above, classics find their place in history. The authors are not around to show their work on Facebook or Twitter. The big name authors have some social networking, but I’d be surprised if it drove most of their sales. (The huge billboard in the bookstore window or front-page features on our e-readers make it difficult not to notice them). So where does that leave our talented Indie e-book writers? Answer: On the Internet.
As noted on other sites, Indie writers are “techy.” (Is that a word? Well, so much for my writing!). The longer we write and post our material, the more we learn how to find our own audiences, and the more networking we do, and yes, sales result. Are our sales in the millions as Mr. Locke or Ms. Hocking? Who’s counting?
Indies, remember who you are. You’re not writing to please a publishing company and can learn to find your audience. Worried about being called “Vanity-writer?” Stop worrying about it. If having your name across large signs with huge spreads on major magazines, the word “Vanity” to me applies more in the literal sense for those authors.
Cutting through the fog, the readers decide. Someone got rich off books. OK, that’s fine, but what those authors do have little to do with what Indies do. Write your story, and learn from the classics and the “pros.” And last, but not least, don’t put your work down. Reviewers do that for us.