Today I’m introducing a feature to my website that I’m very excited about. The Mirage Weekly Newsletter will be out every Friday, and you can consider it something like a mini-blog.
You’ve probably noticed that my blog updates are often infrequent, as I only like to post when I have something worthwhile to say. Ergo, these newsletters will offer a great avenue for keeping my readers up to date with my writing exploits. It also allows me to say a few things without committing to a thousand-word blog every time.
Before the turn of the Century, independent authors—more colloquially known as self-published authors—were near-universally regarded as amateurs. There was little pride in pronouncing yourself as an unsolicited author without any professional representation, such as an agent, a business manager, or a publisher. Times are changing, however. The 21st Century has seen a digital renaissance, and the analogue world has passed intro obscurity. This new wave of technology has allowed authors and readers alike to break free from the unitary mould that has prevailed for a hundred years. There are still rules to learn and customs to uphold, but they are easier than ever to learn, and with a little bit of research and creative ingenuity, the time is ripe for independent publishing to stand as a respected entity.
For independent publishing to succeed, the model of distribution must be malleable to the expectations of the modern reading audience. There is a high degree of presumption for content to be complimentary on the internet. Whether content is consumed through proper channel or via illicit means, the reading audience—as well as all consumers in general—are for more easily swayed toward digital content if it doesn’t rely on an immediate monetary commitment.
Independent authors must subscribe to the new model if they hope to survive and thrive in a digital world of infinite possibilities. By offering complimentary content, they are establishing a pretence of respecting their reading audience and they also widen the scope of their potential readership. It is then the prerogative of the independent author to offer a means of donation, via equitable services like PayPal or Patreon, for willing readers who wish to give some monetary support.
A clever way to benefit readers who offer a donation is by offering exclusive auxiliary content that enhances the reading experience. Some tact must be implemented with any additional content to ensure it is not offered at the expense of the free audience. Independent authors cannot offer a freemium service where revelatory chapters are locked behind a paywall, as this only serves to frustrate and alienate the audience. Additional content must be entertaining and worthwhile, but it is imperative that it always remains auxiliary.
It must be understood by all creative artists—especially those who stand independently against the tide—that the model of consumption has changed, and rather than aggressively rallying against any kind of metamorphosis, it is the duty of each and every artist to adapt. Consumers all across the world do not want to pay for content, and while this attitude might seem pretentious at first, we as artists must understand the ideology behind it. The world is inundated by entertainment, and most of it is mediocre, yet the consumer is still paying for it. If the modern consumer disdains parting with their hard-earned funds for solicited content that, by every right, should maintain a sense of value, how can we expect them to be favourable toward the independent market? It is by eliminating the expectation for remissions that independent artist might earn the right to be respected, and eventually compensated, by the consumer.
An independent author’s duty to their reading audience does not cease with easily-accessible content, however, no matter how salivating the concept might initially appear. The independent author must provide a ubiquitous experience that never draws the reader’s attention to the copyright page so they might scoff at the publisher who thought this was a veritable narrative. The publication must possess a professional facade, including, but not limited to:
A low proportion of proofreading and copyediting errors.
An attractive cover art that maintains a degree of finesse.
An engaging narrative with entertaining characters.
With due diligence, plenty of rewrites, some varying advice from family and friends, and some dedicated self-education in proper syntax, independent authors can hope to forge a publication that is seamlessly integrated into the literary world.
Currently, there is too much disparity between the independent and professional industry, and it is the sole duty of independent authors to bridge the gap by being cognisant of their abilities. If you understand literature, then you will know in your heart and mind when you are ready to unleash your writing upon the world. The age of information provides an accessible toolset for any burgeoning author to understand the finer details of the publishing world and earn a professional tenor. It takes a long time to learn how to write well, but with perseverance and a lot of trial and error, the stigma of the egregious world of self-publishing can finally be lifted.
Independent authors must cast away the notion of earning thousands of dollars, immediately quitting their day job, and becoming a household name. Any artist worth their weight in gold knows that true art is about passion, and if you want to make a million dollars, you should consider becoming an entrepreneur instead. Everything discussed in this article is about establishing a self-sustaining system, one where the writer trusts the reader and where the reader trusts the writer. The best-written books might not generate a lot of income, but the audience will have a far better experience. Remember, a small success should still be seen as a success. A constant and faithful audience is built upon trust, and once that relationship is solidified, an author no longer needs an exorbitant marketing machine in order to sell their words. So long as the independent author endeavours to provide their audience with something worthwhile, then the author can hope to have a future.
I’ve spent a long time studying the English language. I am neither an expert nor a novice. I like to think I know enough to call myself sufficiently educated, and I have a Diploma of Publishing (Proofreading, Editing & Publishing) if you need some hard proof, but like all facets of life, my knowledge on the matter is only limited by my own ignorance. I openly embrace the fact that I have more to learn, and I welcome every new literary tidbit that trickles into my life. I’m sure Socrates would be proud.
When I edit one of my stories, I employ all of my tools to ensure I produce something worthwhile. I make sure all sentences are capped with a capital letter and a full stop; I double-check particularly crafty words in the event that I’ve used the wrong spelling; I even use an audio tool to play back the entire work to draw my attention to any sentences that are left hanging or don’t flow quite right. In essence, I do everything I can to provide my dear readers with something I can be proud of, and I think for the most part I succeed.
That being said, however, a handful of errors always slip through the cracks, like cockroaches hiding in a tight nook. It’s not a phenomenon unique to independent literature. Every single professionally published story contains similar mistakes—stories that have passed through countless hands and been checked by several accredited editors. Sometimes a word or letter has been dropped, at others, the incorrect spelling has been used. Trust me, if you look, you’ll find more than a few. In fact, the first assignment I had to undertake for my Diploma tasked me with finding and correcting an error in a published work. It didn’t take long.
If proofreading errors are so common then, why are independent publications almost always slandered for even the most minuscule of errors? Understandably, I can think of more than a few books that could do with another pair of eyes to look over them—and sometimes an amateur author absolutely needs to realise that one edit simply isn’t enough—but does the occasional gaff warrant critical, and often vitriolic, words?
Approximately, only 97% of errors are picked up by an editor’s eye. That’s not such a bad statistic, though not very many independent authors are editors. Hell, most professional authors aren’t editors either, but they’ve got several resources at their disposal. Independent authors aren’t so fortuitous. Unfortunately, it’s the nature of the beast. It’s the difference between taking a road trip across the country with a bunch of friends—one who happens to be a mechanic in case anything goes wrong, and another who knows the right routes to get you to the other side in a timely fashion—and embarking on a great solitary journey. In the end, you’ll get there either way, if you’re determined enough, but if you’re going by yourself, you need to know how to patch a radiator hose or improvise when you take a wrong turn. Not a bad metaphor, certainly.
What we need to realise is that independent publications are here to stay. They aren’t just a gimmick; they are a part of the new medium, and entirely viable, providing we give them a chance. A few misspelled words aren’t going to ruin an otherwise flawless story, and I believe it’s time we were a bit more forgiving for the occasional gaff. Granted, there should still be an emphasis on keeping literature a respected field, with an essence of intelligence behind every written word, but no one should let a few dropped letters spoil what might have very well been a bestseller if it had had an exorbitant marketing campaign behind it.
There are some real gems out there, but sometimes you need to look behind the big brand labels to find them. Don’t be discouraged. Everyone makes mistakes, and no book is perfect. If you give independent literature a chance, you might just find the story you’ve been waiting to read your entire life.
And if you happen to pick up a couple of proofreading mistakes, why not privately message the author and let them know? I’m sure they’d be grateful. I know I would.
Greetings, dear reader. If you’re reading this, then you probably have at least some interest in my stories, otherwise you’ve accidentally stumbled across this page while aimlessly searching the web. In either case, I’d like to take the opportunity to give a more casual overview of Mirage than is listed over on the main website. I want to explain without feeling the need to impress and speak a little more freely about what I envision for the future.
This is going to be an informal space. I’m not going to put too much effort into these posts, else I’ll never let any of these loose, so please excuse the guerilla-style prose.
My intention with Mirage is to offer entertaining stories that also provoke the reader to think about themselves and the world around them. They are stories from my heart, some of which have been floating around for a good number of years, and I nest all of them until I’m positive they’re ready to go out into the world. While all the stories under the Mirage banner, for the time being, are independently published, I don’t let them go easily. I’ve educated myself on the rhetoric behind professionally published stories, and with an arsenal of varied beta readers at my disposal, I’m confident I can offer an experience that rivals any publishing house.
Of course, then comes the question, if I have so much faith in my abilities as a writer, why do I not seek out a publisher? The answer is multi-layered:
The quickest answer is that I want the freedom to do what I want with the world I’ve created.
The slightly longer answer is that I’m not writing a traditional story, the threads weave back and forth through many stories, and it will be a long time before the picture will be clear. Mirage is a risk, one I’m tentative about; one that any publisher would be equally tentative of.
The answer I like the most, however, is that we live in the most proactive age the earth has ever seen. We have the technology to publish and market out own stories to an unprecedented audience. This is a gift, and while it’s a task that might prove fruitless for many, I see a new generation of authors breaking away from the mould. The world is being born again, and while the publishing industry lingers in the dust, authors can seek out alternative routes to market their work. It is a rewarding experience, and so far I’ve had a blast.
I also believe the model for publishing needs to change. We’ve already seen this with the advent of online media. Content creators are no longer charging their audience an upfront cost; they offer it for free, with the opportunity for the audience to offer payment if they wish, often with an incentive. I think this is a wonderful model for distribution, one that I am endeavouring to embrace. It leaves a lot to faith, sort of like an honour system, but I believe it can work if an honest effort is implemented at the author’s end.
It’s a long road ahead. I don’t know where I am, but I do know where I’m going, and that is all that ever mattered to anyone worth a damn.
I hope you enjoy Mirage, and if you didn’t already know, the first story, Strife, is available to read over on the Mirage website. It’s a tale of obsession manifest in many forms, and I think it hits close to home for a lot of people.
The second story will be announced soon. It’s much shorter than Strife, only 5,000 words or so, but I don’t think it will fail to impress. Keep an eye out on our social media platforms for up-to-date information!
And if you’re a fellow independent author, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to see your work.