Here’s the thing. I’ve been trying to figure out how to put this in words.
See. You don’t understand the significance of the fact that you’re able to read my books, and those of your other favorite indie authors.
I was watching yesterday’s episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter. She interviewed Spike Lee. I remember the late 80’s and early to mid 90’s when a new wave of independent films hit our screens. There was Spike who first gave us “She’s Gotta Have it” and then “Do The Right Thing.” There was Billy Bob Thornton who gave us “Sling Blade.” Quentin Tarantino first fave us “Reservoir Dogs.” If it weren’t for the independent movement in film we would’ve never experienced their brand of telling stories in the film format. We can thank Robert Redford for Sundance, which gave independent filmmakers a forum to show and find distribution for the films. Why could they find distribution? Because in the end it’s all about the cash. Distributors didn’t and still don’t have to rely on studios and established production companies to provide product–they could and go to these film festivals, cut deals and everyone makes money. So, basically the new independent movement in film changed EVERYTHING. You make a professional quality film, tell a great story and you could possibly sell it. The problem is the cost. it’s not cheap to create a film of cinematic quality.
However, it’s very economical to publish your book. (I’ll get back to this)
Recently, FINALLY, thanks to the advancement of technology the publishing industry could finally undergo a MUCH needed independent movement.
The romance novel mold has officially been broken. The thing about the romance readers is that they’re ferocious. They’ve been digesting the “standard” romance story for decades. And let me tell you this.. I can’t get through a romance novel. One reason is that those writers have no idea what kind of romance that I can identify with. I mean, the last romance I read was “The Lipstick Jungle.” Candace Bushnell. Before that, it was “Something Borrowed.” Emily Giffin. However, those stories haven’t been branded as “romance.” However, in my world–according to my experience, they are!
I mean how insulting was it for publishing companies to say, these are the only stories that are going to make money! Not your stories! Before they moaned and complained and Amazon changed their algorithm, I was outselling a lot of their books! I would still be outselling if the playing field hadn’t been slanted. And not only me but a lot of other independent writers.
When I wrote Parched and Misty Black, I felt like I had something to say about the environment and organized religion. Kind of like the new independent filmmakers. Their stories were powerful. They borrowed some film techniques from the independent filmmakers of the 1960’s like Godard and Truffaut to tell their stories. They wanted to say something about those topics that Traditional Hollywood Cinema wouldn’t dare touch because they were so afraid they wouldn’t make any money. I felt free to slice the stories the way I wanted to. Yeah, I knew/know the rules but I wanted to break them! To do that I had to know what’s essential to drawing a reader into a story. I’m not ignorant to the techniques of storytelling. I studied this stuff in college. I read and evaluated screenplays for cinematic value and marketability. I knew that I had to take the reader on an emotional roller coaster. The reader’s humanity had to connect with that of the character’s. Clarity had to have a universal reaction to her mother and father. The reader had to experience her loneliness and her need to connect with others. The story had to be emotional all the way through. That’s it–and that’s all. So, I could end book 1 with a not so happily ever after. I did it because as I was writing, I thought, heck! Really, Clarity??? How long have you been gone without one word of where you’ve been? And then Baron has Lario telling him lies? He’s not going to try to move on? He’s not hurt enough to do it? Yes, yes, yes! And if there’s one thing I know, it’s men. Baron has his pride. He wants to hurt her on first sight. I said, Zuleika, they’re going to have to find their way back to each other. Clarity the loner is going to have to learn how to respect her partner. She’s going to have to learn that the first words out of her mouth should’ve been a gushing, I’m so sorry. Anyway. That was my reasoning. A traditional publisher would’ve never went for that. They would’ve MADE me write a happily ever after. And heck! They created the market’s tastes so they knew what’s to be expected. But here’s the deal. The studios created viewers tastes until the independents came along. When I started watching the independent’s films, I had to get used to endings that weren’t so wrapped up in a tiny box with a pink bow on top. When I became an independent, I was free to write the story I wanted to write, using my wisdom–my experience–my truth. And you know what??? Being black, they boxed me into a genre that I have no idea how to write. I can’t tell Terry McMillan’s stories! I read Waiting to Exhale but I don’t recognize those women. But those are the only stories they would let black author’s tell. My world has always been vastly diverse. My first best friend was white with freckles and red hair, anew were so close people used to ask if we were somehow sisters!
And you know what… I expect some to rebel against innovation. I’m okay with that. However, this is why it’s important for you as readers to read our stuff. Read something that breaks from the norm. Get a different perspective on life and love!
Also, in the beginning I used to read my book five times before I published. I believed it was perfect–ready for consumption. I didn’t take long to learn that I have to find a GOOD editor and cover artist. On top of that, I have to listen to my books via the read aloud function even after they’re returned from the editor in order sanitize those hard to detect errors. Because you’re going to always have the grammarians along with the average reader who just wants to be taken to another world and consume the story. I prefer the latter. But… unfortunately we can’t pick and choose. I digress. The point is–we learn and over time put out a better product. I mean look at the quality of Reservoir dogs compared to Studio films. HOWEVER, feel the emotional impact of Reservoir Dogs compared to films of it’s kind at the time of release…. I’m just saying. And the critics gave it hell for it’s lack of “quality” but they couldn’t deny the story. Same with “Do The Right Thing.”
However, the reason I wrote this post… What I wanted to say is you are now free to read the world. And this is why you should buy that indie novel. Because it doesn’t have the hand of the standard, guiding the story.
And getting back to the simplicity factor of publishing one’s work. You know what… Yes, you are always going to have those people who put the first book they’ve ever written on the market. You’re going to have those people who NEVER learned how to tell a story, leaving you with a plotless lump of nothing to read. However, when you find that gem standing in line behind that amateurs work, isn’t always worth the search????
One more thing. It takes effort to learn how to plot. That’s the hard part of telling a story and the ONLY part of telling story. If you don’t have a plot then you just have stuff happening with no point.
Alright. Time to end this.
(Oh, ran out of time. Couldn’t re-read. Will fix the typos domani!)