It was sometime in April 2012. I was parched and past sweating, crossing the vast indie publishing desert on my virtual hands and knees, when a message appeared before me. Maybe it was on Twitter; maybe it was on Facebook. In any case, it didn’t look like a mirage – although who can say, really, with mirages? What criteria can you use, except your own senses? And I knew from experience that sensory input is not to be trusted in such a situation; until you get on top of a mirage, it looks solid enough.
My heat-addled brain drifted back to the summer days of my childhood, driving with my parents along an endless ribbon of highway. With a child’s naivete, I believed in the puddles of water on the road before us, perfectly reflecting the sky above. Alas, as we reached them, they shimmered into nothingness. Baffled, I turned to my parents. “Where did the puddle go?” I asked, and they told me it had been a mirage.
So you never know, I told myself now. This message could be another of those mirages so common to the indie desert: a come-on for a contest with a steep entrance fee in the fine print*; or a guest post that disappears into the ether with the blog’s makeover; or any one of a number of other opportunities that appear marvelous on the surface, but that evaporate when you get too close.
I dithered. The merciless sun climbed higher in the sky. At length, I decided it was either pursue or perish. With my last bit of strength, I clicked the link – and discovered the oasis that is Indies Unlimited.
It was not a mirage! It was real, and solid, and packed with useful information and advice. I wandered through the posts in amazement. Whole new worlds opened before me – like-fests and book promos and Animoto.
And the people seemed to appreciate my input, even when I admitted I had no interest in Pinterest. And they were funny.
So when the Evil Mastermind offered me free gruel if I’d stay, well, my answer was easy. Head back out into that trackless desert – that barren waste – alone? I think not.
*Fine print: This might be a slight over-dramatization of my experience. Your mileage may vary. Offer good only on the planet Earth. Do not operate motor vehicle with windshield shade in place. Happy birthday, Indies Unlimited!