Cowboys and Indies

  • Publishing Politics

    “Cowboys and Indies – What the Wild West can teach us about the evolution of the publishing industry and the power of partnerships.”

    Nearly all children in the United States are educated on the historic journey of innovators and dreamers giving everything up in pursuit of a new life. Often coined “the wild west”, much can be compared to the Indie landscape of today. Publishing a book is no longer a whimsical aspiration obtainable by the few who manage to beat insurmountable odds and even larger slush piles to reach the masses. If you can use a computer, you can now publish a book and be coined a bona fide author. This exciting phenomenon can be compared to the gold rush of the 1800’s, which in turn thousands of people uprooted their families in hopes of claiming their own place in the world and possibly getting rich along the way. Stories of individuals becoming NY Times bestselling authors right out of the gate, or being discovered and offered six figure contracts feeds our basic human need of affirmation and inspires us to reach out for the same dream. This opportunity is not restricted by class, race, gender or age. No… It is a massive race into the unknown with high stakes and triumphant rewards. This competition of sorts has tapped into the subconscious, evoking the “survival of the fittest” mechanism in many. Social media exemplifies this in its rawest form, giving a window into the culture and to those who are prepared, an upper hand advantage.

    It is no secret that both Traditional and Indie camps are in a battle for territory. The very public fracas between the Hatchett Book Group and Amazon is merely one example of how books are once again becoming the center of controversy and we each are playing a part in this war. The metaphorical references to the past give structure to the many ways in which this may unfold. The publishing giants can be symbolic of the railroad, expanding across the horizon and revolutionizing how consumers receive goods. On the other hand, Indies could be a representation of the tribal clans, with ingenuity, resources and keen adaptability-which brings me to my next point, the power of partnerships.

    This past year charts have blossomed with an abundance of anthologies compiled by top notch romance writers who banded together, often for charitable causes. They were able to breathe new life into former works, or utilize the opportunity to introduce new material that was either exclusive or not yet completed. Although far from a new concept, for a spell it was vogue. Indie authors are constantly seeking out new ways to stay visible when social media is making it increasingly more difficult to reach readers. From group chats, cross promotion, strategic alliances and more, the indie community has started to migrate away from self-serving interests to the benefits of cooperative relationships.

    This movement is a natural shift of social evolution. There is strength in numbers and like any civilized assembly, progress will ensue. For some, these changes are not well received. The near eradication of brick and mortar stores has been the most visible action to take place, yet paperback books will always remain constant. The boom of authors, bloggers, editors and more has caused some upheaval to those who were fortunate enough to stake claim early on and grow substantially from lack of rivalry. However, competition is a good thing because it will force an individual into a particular direction by refining their strategies or admitting defeat.

    Taking into account all other forms of technology, it is irresponsible to assume that the publishing industry would not forage its own course into the future. The very things taking place are not new once you look into the past for guidance. In the words of Winston Churchill, “History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.”

    What legacy will you leave behind?

    ©JL Brooks 2014

    About the Author
    JL Brooks is a contemporary adult novelist and event director. A former women’s health columnist, she infuses her passion for story telling with philanthropic endeavors. Previously she has supported The Amanda Todd Legacy, Books for Heroes, the Avon Breast Cancer Walk and most recently the research of Dr. Vincent Tuohy, the creator of the breast cancer vaccine. In January of 2015 she will be releasing her latest work titled Forgetting, and hosting a cancer wellness expo in Cincinnati featuring local bestselling authors, as well as sharing her expertise as a panelist for RT with a discussion on “The Business of being Indie.”


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