Secrets of Indie Success Revealed: Indie Authors Naked #IndiesNaked
In which I interview writer and editor Loren Kleinman about her new anthology.
I've been caught naked. Yep, that interview I did on well-trafficked site IndieReader over a year ago, when my little free booklet Building an Author Platform that Can Launch Anything came out, went on to become part of an anthology of some of the most influential folks in the indie movement in publishing. (The booklet's still available free, just email me or ask for it in the comments and I'll send you one!)
*ahem* Wow. I got into an anthology with my hero, Hugh Howey, and drool-worthy Renaissance man, James Franco. *fans self* Here's the review I did on the book, with a link:
“Full disclosure: I'm one of the authors in the anthology. But that was NOT why I zipped to Amazon to download this book as soon as it went live. I grabbed my copy and mowed through it like a groupie on a music festival binge because also included were some of the real “stars” of self publishing that are setting the reading world on its ear, and I want to know what they have to say. I am a Hugh Howey stalker-fan and James Franco…don't get me started, what a Renaissance man! Eden Baylee writes the kind of erotica I'm proud to say I read, and Rachel? She's a groundbreaker in every way–and that's just to name a few of the fascinating pioneers of the indie movement included in this collection of interviews. That I was selected to be in such company has made my year, and it's only January!
This anthology is so rich because tight, well written essays by skilled writers introduce each author, shedding light on their relationships, personalities and processes of each one. Then, the interviews were carefully chosen to amplify and provide new information for readers of the anthology. This is no vanity volume intended to pad the reputations of those who contributed. Its a broad, solid base of information gleaned in different interviews that will provide readers with a picture of the diversity and commonalities of those changing the shape of publishing–and done in such an entertaining way it feels like picking up a magazine and finding out more about your favorite artist.
Loren Kleinman is an excellent writer and editor, and someone to watch in the indie field. Grab this one for the value added–and if you read my piece, you'll know what I mean.”
(and I gave it five stars…just FYI)
I couldn't rave more about this little gem of a book, how fun it is for readers and informational for other authors. I grabbed Loren for some quick Q & A about her purposes in putting it together.
Welcome to the blog, Loren! (Oh, and she's been here before. If you want to check out her other awesome interview, The Yummy Center of Indie, here.) Loren, Indie Authors Naked is such a broad range of interviews and talent.
1. What gave you the idea to put the interviews together for a book? I started out at IndieReader (IR) as a book reviewer. I got the opportunity to read some amazing books by indie authors. During my stint as a reviewer, I thought it’d be great to go straight to the source, the writer, and explore their process. I eventually suggested to Amy Edelman, founder, IR, what she thought about starting an indie author interview series. Needless to say she loved it and we started interviewing indie bestsellers on the New York Times, USA Today, and our own Indie Bestseller list.
After more than a year of interviewing, I asked Amy what she thought about collaborating on a book that features many of the interviews in IR and also additional authors we hadn’t interviewed. The seed was planted and it began to grow.
The idea was to compile a collection of essays and interviews that would allow a view into the indie writing community. The book would explore how indies interact with readers as well as their writing process, perspectives on publishing, and marketing strategies in the most intimate way: an interview.
2. What were your goals for the book? My goals for Indie Authors Naked were twofold:
1. Showcase indie authors, booksellers, and various other artists.
2. Demonstrate that indie is more than self-publishing. It’s about being true to yourself and putting out work you feel good about.
I want to stress though that reading is an intimate experience. It’s up to the reader who they want to read. I respect that. It’s important to me that readers have the option of exploration. That’s indie too: choosing what feels good.
3. Who do you see as the book's audience? Indie Authors Naked is for a vast audience. It’s for readers of all genres to get a glimpse of the changes in the publishing community. It’s for publishers and writers and those interested in learning more about the writing process from an author perspective. There are also authors in the book that are both traditionally and self-published. The book might appeal to writers interested in a hybrid-writing career too.
4. What one or two major points would you like readers to come away from the book with? First, I’d like readers to get a look at the many aspects of the indie community; and, second, to recognize that indies are creating something unique; something that speaks directly to the reader, no middleman necessary.
5. I was particularly impressed by the broad range of different kinds of authors and platforms included. Was there a “method to the madness” of selection for inclusion in the book? Certainly there are other well-known indie authors who might have been included. Can you describe how you selected and edited the interviews and the essays preceding them? I used many of the interviews that were previously featured on IR, but we (Amy and I) also included some amazing writers like Ted Heller and Hugh Howey. We also included an accomplished indie poet, Joseph Wade. In addition to the interviews, Amy and I wanted to provide a larger perspective on indie so we thought about introducing each interview with an essay by someone of the authors choosing. The individual writing the introduction was asked to express their vision of indie and how that related to the writer they were introducing. Many of the intro writers were NYT bestsellers. Some of them were traditionally published, self published, and/or hybrid authors. We felt these introductory essays offered more breadth to the book and also a larger vision or understanding of what it means to be indie.
6. As a writer for IndieReader and someone with your finger on the pulse of the publishing world, what changes do you think we'll be seeing in 2014?
Let’s take a look at some facts first (provided by Amy Edelman):
* 391,000 titles self-published in the U.S. in 2012— an increase of nearly 60% from the previous year (source: Bowkers)
* Self-published authors regularly capture 20-30% of bestseller lists (including The New York Times and USA Today)
* Self-published author Hugh Howey (of “Wool” fame) sold more than half a million copies of his latest e-Book before he sold print (only) rights to Simon & Schuster. He retains e-rights as a self-publisher.
* Sergio De La Pava self-published A Naked Singularity and won the $25,000 PEN / Robert W. Bingham Prize for his novel about a public defender.
* IndieReader is about to launch IR In-Store, the first indies-only distribution service that will directly get branded self-published titles in front of book industry professionals, including retailers, reviewers, librarians, and publishers.
2014 Prediction: Indie books—taking their cue from other “indie” categories (specifically those of music and film)—will be considered downright sexy and that major publishers will try to make their product look more like ours.
7. Who are some indie authors/publishing people who were NOT in the book that you wish had been included, and why? I would have loved to interview Sergio De La Pava who self-published A Naked Singularity. But…I’ll leave that possible opportunity to the fates.
8. What are some of Loren Kleinman's upcoming projects in 2014? My second collection of poetry, The Dark Cave Between My Ribs, is due to release in March 2014 (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014). This poetry collection attempts to bear witness to trauma and its healing process. Trauma survivors will clearly remain tortured as bodily wounds may heal, but the wounded psyche bears witness to years of reconstruction. Finding the language to express trauma is a challenge within itself.
I just finished a New Adult literary romance novel, This Way to Forever and am seeking representation as soon as it comes back from the copy editor. The novel explores how young people deal with love and ambition and the choices that come with each. Other themes the novel explores are choosing romantic love over security, love as an ideology, and long distance love/dealing with long distance relationships.
I also co-founded National Translation Month (NTM) with Claudia Serea, a month long celebration on the craft of translation that publishes essays and poetry translations requested specifically for this project from various translator contributors. The second year of NTM kicks off February 2014 with some well-known translators.
9. Any closing thoughts for readers considering the book or anything else you'd like to add?
For writers: Write the best book you can. When you’re done, do your research. Review your options. I spent months reviewing publishing houses. Not every publishing house will be interested in what your writing, specifically genre and topic. Take your time and interview editors and formatters and ask for references.
But besides all of that, focus on the craft. Focus on improving your writing. I never met a writer that got worse.
I’ll leave it at this: “Your job as a writer is making sentences…most of the sentences you make will need to be killed. The rest will need to be fixed. This will be true for a long time” (Verlyn Klinkenborg).
For readers: Read the books you want. Read lots of them from fiction to non-fiction to poetry. It’s about your experience and your connection with the text. That’s where the magic happens.
Loren Kleinman is a young, American-born poet with roots in New Jersey. Her poetry explores the results of love and loss, and how both themes affect an individual’s internal and external voice. She has a B.A. in English Literature from Drew University and an M.A. in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Sussex (UK). Her poetry has appeared in literary journals such as Nimrod, Wilderness House Literary Review, Writer’s Bloc, Journal of New Jersey Poets, Paterson Literary Review (PLR), Resurgence (UK), HerCircleEzine and Aesthetica Annual. She was the recipient of the Spire Press Poetry Prize (2003), was a 2000 and 2003 Pushcart Prize nominee, and was a 2004 Nimrod/Pablo Neruda Prize finalist for poetry.
In 2003, Spire Press (NYC) published her first collection of poetry Flamenco Sketches, which explored the relationship between love and jazz. Kleinman judged the literary entries for the book Alt-History: New Writing from Brighton published by QueenSpark Books (UK). She was also a contributing editor/writer for the Cancer Dancer by Patricia San Pedro. Kleinman is also a columnist for IndieReader.com (IR) where she interviews NYT bestselling indie authors. Many of those interviews in IR reappeared in USA Today and The Huffington Post. Her second collection of poetry, The Dark Cave Between My Ribs, is due to release in 2014 (Winter Goose Publishing, 2014). She is also working on a New Adult literary romance novel, This Way to Forever.
She also co-founded National Translation Month, a month long celebration on the craft of translation that publishes essays and poetry translations requested specifically for this project from various translator contributors.
Amy Holman Edelman launched IndieReader, the essential consumer guide to self-published books and the people who write them, way back in 2007. Since then, indie authors have stormed the bestseller lists, been courted by trad publishers and (after all that), finally gained a modicum of respect.
Amy self-published her first book, The Fashion Resource Directory, back in the 80s, long before POD and Amazon and e-readers roamed the land. Her second and third books (The Little Black Dress and Manless in Montclair), were traditionally published (by Simon & Schuster and Shaye Areheart Books, an imprint of Crown).
As an author and a publicist with over 20 years’ experience, Amy’s goal for IndieReader is no less than to make indie a respected and desirable category within the publishing world. This book is just one step in that direction.
Click on the photos below to connect with Loren or Amy!
Amy Edelman, founder of IndieReader.com