The Rise of Technology = The Rise of Indie Authors and Publishers

indie author at work pixabay robot-507811_640The other day, my internet went out. Not a huge problem; there was a cable cut somewhere and it was fixed within 24 hours. I can live without Facebook for 24 hours, right? That’s not a necessity.

But I was working.

Oh, sure, I could still write, and I did, but I couldn’t do anything else. I had been seeing to some last-minute confirmations for a couple of workshops I’m teaching for a continuing education program. I was trying to get a reservation at an upcoming book festival. I was organizing a book signing in a town across the state. I was corresponding with a neighboring library about another book signing. And I was wanting to shout to the world that one of my books was a finalist in a book award contest.

And I couldn’t do any of those things.

It really is pretty amazing how we indie authors and publishers can do everything from our chairs. We can write, edit, give and receive feedback to/from friends and beta-readers, format, upload, and publish all from the comfort of our home offices. We can promote, market, organize book, and connect with our readers without leaving the house. It’s so natural now, it’s hard to imagine how it used to be.

In the Stone Age (the 1980s) when I was traditionally published, authors were truly isolated. I wrote my books in complete seclusion; no one read them except my agent and my publisher. Any correspondence with my publisher (which was minimal) went through my agent, and that consisted of very infrequent letters and mostly unanswered phone calls. One day a box of books showed up on my doorstep. I had no idea the book was done. It was like working in a bubble while the world went through its daily machinations around me. When the world eventually bumped into my little bubble, I was completely surprised.

But nowadays — boy, are we lucky. We have this wonderful network, this fabulous community of friends, cohorts, helpers, supporters, and readers. We can reach out and in an instant have exactly what we need, whether it’s help with grammar, bugging out a blurb, kvetching about a bad review, or just needing a shoulder to cry on. It’s all within our grasp immediately.

Pondering this parallel evolution of both technology and indie authors, I‘m of the mind that the first gave rise to the second. It was, after all, the digital revolution that provided all the pathways we now take for granted. Unpublished, unsung authors were always languishing out there in the corners of the world, but now we have those marvelous electrical ribbons that connect us to the reading public and to each other. And while this digital revolution has been a game-changing boon to us authors, we were not the impetus behind it. We’re just the lucky beneficiaries.

In the wake of the cut cable, I thought it would be nice to remember this. Be grateful for this. We live in a fantastic time, full of possibilities, and it’s nice to know that so many of us are taking advantage of those possibilities and reaching for our dreams. Thirty years ago, almost none of what we accomplish today would have been even remotely possible. Twenty years ago, the seas of change were starting to whip up into whitecaps, but I think few of us had so much as a glimmer of the artistic tsunami that was to come. Today we surf that tsunami with surprising ease. This is truly our time. The time of indie authors.

Author: Melissa Bowersock

Melissa Bowersock is an eclectic, award-winning author who writes in a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres. She has been both traditionally and independently published and lives in a small community in northern Arizona. Learn more about Melissa from her Amazon author page and her blog.

18 thoughts on “The Rise of Technology = The Rise of Indie Authors and Publishers”

  1. I’m constantly amazed at how the internet has changed the lives of everyone in both good ways and bad, but mostly for the better I think. It’s not just better for writers, but also for readers and so many groups. Pick any subject someone might be interested in, the more offbeat or obscure the better, and odds are those people have found their tribe on the internet. In the past, they might have thought they were the only one. (I’m a member of a few of those tribes myself. 😀 )

    1. And taking over the world is much easier with the Internet. Not that that’s what we’re trying to do here, or anything. Move along folks. There’s nothing to look at here. Shhhhh…..

    2. You are so right, Al. Where before we all sat in our own little corners, now we find real community online. Odd to think that even 10 years ago, IU would be a pipe dream, but now it’s real, vital, effective and amazing. Can’t beat that with a stick.

  2. I couldn’t help but notice in paragraph two, most of the things you couldn’t do on the internet were actually good old-fashioned promotion stuff that still could be done by phone.
    Plus ça change…

  3. I’m completely in the same boat. Even worse off actually. I can’t work at home at all. I also breed pomeranian dogs and as soon as I sit down – anywhere, on anything – I’m covered in dogs. I can only write, edit, market, etc, in cafes. Strange but true.

    Just yesterday I ordered my latte, got comfy and turned on my laptop – only to find the net was down in the whole building, the cafe included. I can’t even edit without a net connection. While writing, I highlight a lot of words, phrases, idioms and possible plot inconsistencies to go back and check later. I made a net connection for the simple task of verifying definitions and other simple things.

    We take things like the internet for granted until they disappear. I guess that’s why Estonia has listed net access as a fundamental human right along with things like water, shelter and security.

    1. That’ll teach you to order a latte before you check the internet connection, right? But you bring up another good point–the portability of our work. We can do it anywhere, as long as the ethernet gods don’t conspire against us. (And before Gordon mentions pencils and paper, yes, true, but not near as much fun!)

  4. So true, Melissa! One time, our Internet service was out for almost three days. I had to go to a friend’s house to use her computer or to a fast-food restaurant where I could access the WiFi with my iPad. It was terribly frustrating because I had a lot of “online commitments” as well–not to mention, bills to pay.

    If the world ever went “truly dark,” it would be truly scary…!

    1. Ack! Yes, now that we depend on it so heavily, it would be hard to imagine going back. (And she says this while in a hotel where the internet was wonky and she couldn’t get on to reply to comments!)

  5. Our wifi went out for a couple of days and the hubs and I were goofing about it, probably just to reassure ourselves that it wasn’t really The End of the World As We Knew It. After a period of silence, one of us would say, “We don’t have any wifi.” Later, the other one would say, “Our internets are down.” Or I’d look over and Tom would be curled up on the sofa in fetal position, moaning. I’d walk around zombie-fashion, saying, “Must have WIIIII-FIIIIIIII.” Yes, we are very grateful for technology.

  6. BRAVO! Well said Melissa. Thank you for this post. I can’t wait for the day when the internet will be all over the ether (anywhere). The same for teleportation.

  7. Sorry. I meant ‘ether’ from the old French ether, or from Latin aethēr ‎(“the upper pure, bright air”), not the class of organic compounds.

  8. At the turn of the century, plenty of doomsday profits said the Internet would be the death of society; that it would isolate people and sever human communication. In some ways that’s true; there are plenty of people who choose to hide behind a computer the way people used to hide behind a phone. But the web world has helped people in more ways than it’s harmed. As with any new technology, its usage depends on individual personalities. People now can reach out and find an online community or group with similar interests, problems or needs and commiserate. True, it doesn’t take the place of actual face-to-face dialogue, and there are plenty of trolls with ill intent. But the Internet has opened a number of good avenues for people, especially we writers and other artists.

    1. Thanks, Alejandro; I think the difference is more in degree than in kind. Seems like we always see naysayers bashing new technology, yet we as humans tend to use our tools in the same old ways, sometimes for good, sometimes not. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  9. Stuck in the middle of beautify Brittany, I wouldn’t be able to survive without this her miracle of the modern world.

    Fantastic. Long live Tim Burners-Lee, a truly gifted individual.

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