Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Featured IAG Author

Each week this blog will feature a different author from the Independent Authors Guild group, of which this writer is a member. The people in this group have been extraordinarily supportive of my work and have provided extensive reviews, links on web sites, and other kindnesses. I wanted to return the favor in a small way.

I have read the work of many of these writers and reviewed some of them as well. Many have considerable talent and have not yet been recognized by the mainstream traditional publishers. Some are self published, like myself. Others are published by small presses without the clout of the major houses. All that I have encountered have been sincere and serious about their work.

I trust this new feature will inure to the benefit of both the featured authors as well as the readers of this blog. You may discover hidden literary gems and exciting new talent among this group.

The first featured author is Dianne K. Salerni. Ms. Salerni started a forum on Amazon.com for self published and small press authors of historical fiction. I joined in the discussion and it evolved into the Independent Authors Guild. Ms. Salerni deserves a lion's share of the credit for bringing this group together. Many have become friends. I believe all have benefited from the information, comraderie and sometimes commiseration this group has facilitated.

Like independent films, or indies, independent authors and publishers have to scramble for attention, respect and, yes, sales of their work. It does not come easy. 100,000 books are published each year in the U.S. Only a small handful become best sellers. Only a relatively small minority sell more than 1,000 copies. There are many fine books that never see the shelf of a bookstore.

Conversely, famous authors can put out almost anything and find a broad audience. They don't even have to be writers. They just have to be famous. Witness all the books published for people like talk show hosts, sports figures, celebrities, etc. Few have much value. Even fewer are written above an eighth grade level.

Good writing is an art. It is often referred to as a "craft," as though it is akin to basket weaving. Excellent writing is far more involved, subtle, and creative than craft. It is truly art, because the work, if it is fiction, is created from whole cloth. At its best, it is not regurgitated nor recycled. It is new and fresh and it takes the reader to another time and place.

Independent Authors Guild is an effort to support and encourage the efforts of fledgling writers who too often are ignored by the traditional publishing industry, which struggles for sales in a shrinking pool of readers, and therefore has to ruthlessly select what it thinks will sell enough books to cover the cost of production, printing, and publicity and generate a profit.

They also guarantee the bookstores that they will take back any unsold books. This is very risky and very expensive. That is why traditionals must be so selective. Many receive literally hundreds of manuscripts each month, while publishing only a small handful at best. The rest find the slush pile, otherwise known as file 13. Unfortunately the baby is often tossed out with the bath water. It is not quality the publishers seek, it is broad appeal and salability. And their judgement is obviously far from infalable. It is a terrible dilemma for unknown writers seeking an audience for their work.

Kudos to all those who write, because it is what they must do.

1 comment:

Marva said...

Hey, thanks Barry for featuring my book. This is a great idea and I should emulate you on my own blog. A weekly Featured Writer would be a good addition to my own blog.

Again, thanks!
Marva