On indie press: Joanne Anderton

I’ve invited a number of people who have published in indie press and gone on to become professionals in the field to write about their experiences. Today, Joanne Anderton, whose first novel, Debris (Angry Robot Books) was released just this week, shares her journey.

Indie press has been many things to me, and still is. It is opportunity, passion, and community. I also believe it’s the future, or at least a very big part of it.

Like so many writers, I started my publishing journey with Indies. My first fiction sale was flash fiction to an online horror publisher, and most of my short fiction has since found Indie homes. Opportunity, right? Opportunity to see my name in print, to cast my words out into the great story sea and help them swim. This in turn helped me create an identity as an author (being someone who can answer the inevitable ‘oh, what have you published?’ question at parties, rather than mumbling about novels tucked away in dusty drawers) and the all important publishing history. Indie publishing also offers opportunities to different kinds of stories, ones that don’t fit neatly into genre categories or marketing plans. I’ve always thought this puts them ahead of the trend, and parallel to the trend, and on a totally different but much more exciting planet than the trend, all at the same time. Indie publishers create this opportunity for writers like me by publishing short fiction in the first place, by opening their doors to unsolicited manuscripts and wading through the slush they get in response, and by working hard – damned hard – to promote their stories far and wide. And that’s where passion comes in.

It takes passion to be a publisher of any kind. Trust me, I spend my day job hours in an office across the hall to several publishers, I sit in meeting with them, I chat to them around the water cooler/coffee machine/packet of Tim Tams. Publishers live and breathe their books, they fight for them, they sing praises, and pick up the pieces of their nervous authors when necessary. Despite this, it still takes something special to be an Indie publisher. It not only involves a massive commitment of time, and energy, and emotional wellbeing, but more often than not it involves an injection of funds. You’ve got to love something a lot to volunteer so much of your life and yourself to it, and throughout my dealings with Indies I have found that love – that passion – to be inspiring and infectious. They love what they do, and when my stories have been fortunate enough to become what they do, I’ve seen them with different eyes. Indies have helped me see my words and worlds differently, they’ve helped me fall back in love with them, and be inspired to work to make them as good as they can be. This leads me to community.

All the Indies I’ve worked with have had a wonderful way of making me feel included. They are not distant, scary dictators controlling all your hopes and dreams from afar. I was also a part of the Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine Co-operative for a time, and there my sense of community grew. Reading slush was an invaluable learning experience for me as a writer (I can’t recommend this enough!), as was editing my own issue of the magazine. Both broadened my view of writing and publishing considerably. Just as important was the connections I made, the community I found, and that found me, of authors, editors, and publishers.

This combination of opportunity, passion and community have meant that Indie publishers have been an integral part of my writing career. But add these together and you realise that Indies have one other, seriously important, thing going for them: flexibility. We all know the publishing world is changing, big time. It’s hard, but Indies are in a good position. Passionate about their stories and eager to tell them to as many people as possible, they are quick to take advantage of the opportunities created by changes in technology, and truly establish themselves in the global community of readers.

See what I did there?

Honestly, though, Indie publishing has been vital to my past. I believe they will be key to all our futures.

Joanne Anderton lives in Sydney with her husband and too many pets. By day she is a mild-mannered marketing coordinator for an Australian book distributor. By night, weekends and lunchtimes she writes dark fantasy, horror and (according to some people) science fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in all sorts of Indie publications, but most recently in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, After the Rain and Dead Red Heart. She was a finalist for the 2009 Aurealis Award for best young adult short story.

Her debut novel, Debris (Book One the Veiled Worlds Series) will be published … well, right now … by Angry Robot Books, followed by Suited in 2012. 

Visit her online at: http://joanneanderton.com and on Twitter @joanneanderton