First, I don’t consider myself an “indie author.” That’s what a lot of self-published and self-e-published writers call themselves, and it’s a great term. But I would feel like an imposter if I called myself one. I’m still working on my “real” novels, and searching for an agent, and aiming for the traditional editor/publishing house route.
That said, I have technically self-published. I put both my short story “The Eraser” and my web serial Twenty-Somewhere for sale online. To me it was a harmless experiment (not an attempt to find a shortcut to success or to circumvent the publishing system, like some people assume).
But will agents and editors see it that way? I don’t know. Honestly, I sometimes worry that my experiment may have “ruined” me. Despite a few standout success stories, self-publishing still carries a stigma, and I might have dipped my toe into that pond by accident. (I really hope I’m wrong, though, because I can’t exactly undo it now…)
Rather than let that little uncertainty snowball into true fear or anxiety, I’d like to make sure something positive comes out of this. So, for the month of December, I’m going to donate all proceeds from my online sales to the It Gets Better Project. That means 100% of the money that would normally go to me? Will go to suicide prevention services and anti-bullying efforts instead.
Why? Because hearing about teens (foreign, gay, awkward, whatever) who have fallen — no, who have been pushed — so low that they think it would be better to give up and get out of this world than to live? It breaks my heart and brings me to tears just typing that.
The issue hurts and compels me so much that I’ve already started planning a new novel to address it. But even if I could magically finish and sell that book tomorrow, it wouldn’t get to shelves for a year or more. This is something I can do now. This is something I can do because I’m (sort of) an indie author. Maybe my experiment gave me a black mark, maybe it didn’t — but it definitely does give me the flexibility to decide where my (modest) profits go this holiday season. And that, I think, is something to treasure.