So what’s a Midlist Indie? (at least for me)
What does it mean to me to be a mid-list Indie?
In the days when traditional publishers were the only way to go, mid-list writers were the mainstays of the industry – the mostly unsung and unheralded writers who weren’t at the top of the charts but consistently wrote good, and sometimes even great, books. They weren’t the Kings, the Clancys, the Roberts, the Grishams, the Koontzs or even the E.L. James (Fifty Shades of Grey). They were the ones that were sort of well known, had devoted fans and usually skated just below or sometimes skipped into Top 100 lists. They were journeyman writers who could be counted on to write a consistently good story – sometimes part of a series, sometimes not – every six months to a year. Many were genre writers – sci-fi/fantasy, mystery, thriller, or romance – the ones you found toward the back of the store. Some of them did go on to greatness in their genre, while even remaining unknown by most of the reading public.
What does it mean to be a mid-list Indie, though? Not just the times, but the time lines have changed. We’re not part of a publishing house that releases hundreds of books a year, and so can afford to publish just one book by one author a year. For the mid-listers of publishing, that frequently meant that the only real reason they published was because they loved to write – most couldn’t make a living at their writing, they seldom made back their advances – and possibly for the ego bounce of being able to say they were a published writer.
Now, thanks to Smashwords, Amazon, B&N, Apple and Kobo, anybody can be a published writer and quite frequently are, so the quality varies from truly great to truly abysmal.
For a mid-list Indie, it can mean releasing a new book in a matter of months, certainly at least every six months (if you can write that fast) in order to feed your – hopefully – growing number of fans. It’s also the only way a mid-list or ANY indie writer can do well.
To me to be a mid-list Indie is more than just writing, though. To be an Indie writer means to striving to write the best stories I can write, to not just be ‘as good as’ the traditionally published but to try to be better, (remember, I did say ‘try’) and constantly trying to improve, because we’re held to a higher standard. Why? Because there are so many out there for whom ‘good enough’ is good enough – which isn’t good enough for me.
It also means earning enough money from my writing to be able to do what so many traditionally published mid-list writers couldn’t do – make a living from my writing. (If all you hope for is just to have people read your books, then the timing is all yours. That’s one of the best things about Indie writing, it’s not one size fits all.)
Why then, if I’m doing that, do I call myself a mid-list? Well, at least partly because – although I have hit the top 100 lists (and sometimes the top 20) and not just in free but in paid – I’m not doing it consistently. Not yet. I’m still working, still trying, to get there. I also want the respect of my peers, other fantasy, thriller and romance writers. And because I want to get noticed, I want people to talk about my writing, just like every other writer out there. I want to be one of those authors that hits not just the Amazon bestseller lists, but the USA Today bestseller lists. I get good enough reviews to be encouraged, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop trying.
At heart, of course, what matters is that I’m doing what I love, on a daily basis, spinning stories of wonder that I hope will entertain and amaze. And even if all of the above never happens, I’ll still keep writing, because I have to, because I have all these wonderful stories to tell you…
So, let me dream dreams both big and small, and paint the world with visions, for the sky is my palette, and my imagination is what worlds are made of….
Reach up. Let me take you on a journey to places you only dreamt of…to dance among the stars…