I am just back from The Literary Consultancy's (TLC) http://www.literaryconsultancy.co.uk/ revolutionary Writing in a Digital Age conference. Organised by the inimitable Rebecca Swift--the speakers included leading authors and industry figures such as @harikunzru @lindasgrant, @nicolamorgan, @zubaanbooks (Urvashi Butalia), @simontrewin, @caroleagent (Carole Blake), @gavinjamesbower, @saqibooks (Rukhsana Yasmin), @karolinasutton and many more--#TLC12 brought together the traditional and the Indie on the same stage, a first of firsts.
The person who stood out was Rob Kroese, author of the self published, bestselling, humorous, apocalyptic novel Mercury Falls and its sequel, Mercury Rises. He is the creator of Mercury (the title character in Mercury Falls)--an acerbic, anti-establishment angel who is well-meaning but not particularly well-behaved. Rob @robkroese is funny, genuine and as one of my fellow delegates commented, "he is one of us". He likens the league of published authors to an elite night club, with gatekeepers, who decide who gets in and who does not. It struck a chord with me, and I suspect with many of the other 'waiting to be discovered' wannabes.
One of the most hotly discussed topics was whether to self publish or not? If Indie movies are accepted, why not Indie books? So taking a cue from Rob's talk (thanks Rob!) I have put together my own quiz, to help you find out. Here are the questions
1. Do you want to be discovered or somewhere along the way have you discovered yourself?
2. Do you write to be published or do you write to be read?
3. Are you an entrepreneur, at heart? Do you normally jump in and think of the consequences later. Are you pragmatic about failure--enough to pick yourself up and move on swiftly to the next?
4.Do you like to experiment, and cannot resist a challenge? Do you thrive under pressure, and when the odds are stacked against you?
5.Are you impatient, probably a control freak? In fact, you want to control your own destiny, so keep checking in with the stars to find out what's going to happen in your life, so you can steer it the way you want.
6. Are you a technophile? You secretly indulge your inner geek, admit it! On a practical level are you at least on Facebook and twitter?
7. Are you social and love debating with tweet-friends around the world? Really, you adore your virtual home and obsess over getting your gravatar just right!
8. Is your novel unclassifiable? It spans so many genres that you know you will have lost traditional agents within the first line of the pitch, for your writing and you cannot be pigeon-holed. YA, epic fantasy, inspired by Indian mythology, for example.
9. Do you have the courage of conviction, the doggedness of determination? Is the power of persistence strong within you? Hopefully the goddess of wealth has smiled on you--enough to let you invest in yourself and in your voice--so you can substitute some of the publishers' services and give your baby a good start in the real world.
10. Perhaps, you had a near death experience--Life is too short. You just have to get your voice out there for tomorrow you may be too late.
If you said yes to at least eight of the above ten, then I believe the force is with you. You may be among the fortunate few able to take a punt on yourself. But wait! Before you press that enter button and send the words skimming out over the electronic waves, pause. Have you been true to yourself in your text--Really? If you are still standing upright, then there is more to tell. Go back, revisit, revise, rewrite, until hand on heart, you can say you have stripped yourself bare.
When you have died a few deaths getting the novel to where it is, and you get that weird feeling of exhaustion mixed with elation, then, you know all has been said. Now you have one last thing to do. Make sure your baby is perfect--every infinitesimal millimetre brushed to its Sunday best--for once it is out there you will be reborn, as your Author Avatar. People will actually read you. Many will love your prose, some will hate it and tell you so. Can you deal with that too? If the answer is still yes, then what are you waiting for?
Have you gone Indie? If so do write in and share your experience.
Follow Laxmi Hariharan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/laxmi