A call to arms.
There is a tradition in literature that has been deeply under threat until the advent of Indi publishing. The tradition of novels that question the wisdom and normality of the day. Examples of these being: Steinbeck’s, Grapes of Wrath or any Joyce or Pushkin or Dostoevsky. That tradition of the subversion and undermining of the tribal, religious, political or social establishment in the novel; was deeply undermined by the contraction of the publishing industry in the past twenty or so years. The grip of a few international publishing and sales conglomerates was becoming overwhelmingly conservative and restrictive. Celebrity worship, meaningless pap, magic and fantasy dominated their output.
Non-mainstream or non-conformist work had little chance of making it past the all powerful gatekeepers. There were exceptions and those tokens are held to be examples of freedom but that was an illusion. Truly radical or overtly critical work was always marginalised at best and buried in the slush pile at worst. We writers conspired in this movement towards conformity by submitting to the idea that rejection by the gatekeepers was our shame. “Not good enough to be published by the establishment means not good enough.”
‘Conform, don’t speak unpalatable truths, don’t bite the hand that feeds you, don’t upset the apple-cart.’
Suddenly we are free of the gatekeepers, we can publish our work and bite as hard as we wish, well with certain reservations. We must still not upset the giant that facilitates this apparent freedom. And that freedom is still more apparent than real.
Having a radical non-conformist novel published means little if it is buried unseen and unread at the bottom of a pile of a million others. Struggling out from under that pile still remains a daunting prospect and one must still confront the powers of conservatism that seeks to keep us buried, marginalized and dismissed as: ‘Indi – worthless – self published – vanity – non-approved pap.’
It is time for we who choose this freedom to properly utilise that opportunity by losing our tendency to feel inadequate and apologetic. Above all we must stop using the derogatory and divisive language of the establishment. We need to do as the gay lib movement did with words like ‘fag’ and ‘queer’. We must take words like ‘self-published’ or ‘Indi’ or even ‘vanity’ and inject them with pride and remove all stigma from the idea of independence in publishing.
I call for an ‘Indi pride’ parade here on the world wide web.
Let’s not fall into the trap of petty tribal squabbles and arguments about which form of self publishing is worthy and which not. Yes some of this new found freedom will be abused by trash and ill conceived and poorly executed rubbish but that is the price we must pay for this freedom. We must rejoice in the opportunity, feed the giant and support each other in our efforts to surface in the fast and vast pool of detritus it produces.
Celebrate the possibilities and offer a helping hand to others who swim in this new sea.
A revolution is here if only we can make it.