Sunday, September 5, 2010

Independents and Independence

By Mike Long

I'm not sure where I'm going with this—it feels more like venting than advising potential writers. It seems to me that we, the public, are subjected to a regular barrage of pleas to support indies, the independent booksellers of America. I understand and agree with their arguments, and there's that David vs. Goliath thing too.

In fact I do support them; for example, for about ten years I drove past the “big guys” to shop at Litchfield Books, when we had a place at Garden City Beach. This year I called them to ask about putting my new novel there on consignment. The “lady” who answered interrupted me to ask if I was self-published, then said, “We do not stock self-published novels.” End of that conversation.

I had the same brief talk with a large indie in Charlotte (not Park Street Books-they've stocked me and are allowing me a signing this month). I sent an email query to 20 Texas indies, and only received two responses—one was folding, the other wanted a 45% discount. True West Magazine accepted $1540.00 from me for an ad, then declined to review my novel as they “have to stick with established authors and publishers in these troubled economic times.”

I have had great luck with some of the few indies left in SC, like Indigo (John's Island), Swift (Orangeburg), Fiction Addiction (Greenville), Java Nook (Ridgeway), and Blue Bicycle (Charleston). The manager at Ravenous Reader (James Island) was absolutely rude, even though I had stacked up $184.00 worth of books to buy on her counter. I left them there, drove over to Indigo Books and bought them from nice people, the owners Nat and Linda.

I guess that's my point. We, the independent writers, are sometimes treated to a different standard than the indies wish for themselves. I, as an indie writer, plan to keep spending money with fair-minded folks, and to keep identifying those with double standards. My True West subscription will expire.

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