Going Indie in publishing is like doing it without a net. What’s “it,” you ask, well, “it” is putting yourself out there, in book form. Every author puts a piece of themselves in their books, and then after that painful surgery of cutting out a piece of your soul and putting it into written form, you want to lie back and wait for the bleeding to stop and the piece to grow back, or cut off a new piece, and trust that the Nurse’s Aide that is your publisher will take care of the organ, pack it lovingly in wood pulp and dry ice and put a beautiful cover on it while slipping it into a hermetically-sealed cooler and slapping the bright stickers that say “Biohazard” and “Live Organs” on it so the courier holding it gets special consideration in airports and bookstores. And you’re hoping that the efforts by the publisher will encourage a reader to open up your literary organ cooler and stroke with their bare fingers that piece of your soul that’s gently beating amidst the words and wood pulp, and I dunno, maybe graft it onto their own, so it shares its makeup with their own and somehow enhances them the way a second thumb or an extra kidney might.
And some of those readers may not be compatible hosts, and so will shake it off and reject it to lose its cohesion as it withers away into a dormant state, but others will accept the graft and will somehow become supermen and women, able to leap tall imaginations with a single bound or stop the bullets of boredom with their bare chests, or even just look good in outfits where the undies are on the outside.
But that all happens only if there’s a publisher willing to undertake the courier trip and pay the airfare. But publishers like to take pieces of souls that are compatible with many hosts, or use their own judgements on which literary organs have the longest list of hosts, because their airfare will pay off a hundredfold if the hosts are waiting ten deep at the gate for their precious cargo, but if there’s just one guy in a rumpled overcoat, or two kids who look like they might be more interested in their cell phones than the cargo, it’s in the publisher’s best interests to forgo the trip in favor of a better organ. So publishers make decisions like HMOs make decisions, by looking at the bottom line, not the cutting line in the operating room, and if HMOs piss you off, then you can easily see why publishers may become the bad guy in a writer’s mind.
But I don’t see them as the bad guy because this isn’t a hospital drama, this is me wanting to tell my stories and be heard, and if I can’t get the publisher to be my organ-donor courier, well, then I’m just going to have to get up off the gurney and do it myself. Without the drugs. That means I’ll be carrying my own organ-cooler through the airport, and still in my hospital gown, so my ass will be showing sometimes, and it may take me more effort to take each step as I try to re-create the courier’s tried-and-true method of navigating to the gate and getting off the tarmac to find the right hands in which to place my precious cargo. And I may wander off down a hallway where there’s nothing but a bathroom and security offices that will tell me to move along, nothing to see here, and maybe I’ll get a pat-down or two by the TSA agency of critics or reviewers who may or may not have really cold hands in places I like to stay warm, and I might end up leaving my precious cargo in the Lost Luggage depot for a little bit while I wander around confused, looking for the magic tram that will take me to the readers who like stories like mine, but I will make the journey and remember that every step I am forging new ground and carrying a piece of my soul in a cooler to share with someone who might need an extra piece of soul to grow their own.