Last December, driving home from a day-job photo sale, I tuned my XM radio to the Book Channel to hear a panel interview with authors David Baldacci, John Grisham, and Jodi Picoult. The objective of the organizers of the program was to increase public awareness of Mark Twain and the Mark Twain Museum, or, as we say in the south, they were “Rasin’ money.”
The show was memorable. All three of the authors are knowledgeable fans of Mark Twain. I learned a lot, and as you can imagine, I was entertained. I wouldn’t expect any less from three of the bestselling authors in the world.
Toward the end of the program, the interviewer threw the writers a slow, hanging, curve ball, when she asked a question they weren’t expecting. “What do you think of the new wave of indie writers that are flooding the world with books?”
I don’t know what Baldacci or Picoult think about indie writers because they never had a chance to respond. With the question still hanging in the air, John Grisham moved to a level of intensity that hadn’t been present in more than an hour of conversation.
In addition to writing bestsellers and coaching little league, Grisham is a Sunday school teacher at the First Baptist Church of Oxford Mississippi. He wouldn’t have been more passionate with his response if the moderator had asked, “How do you feel about Satan taking your wife and kids out for an ice cream soda?”
My paraphrase of his response is – He thinks indie writers and their books is the worse scourge to ever sweep the planet, and they will probably destroy the book business.
I’ve thought about that show often since I heard it five months ago. What Grisham said concerned me, but not because I’m an indie writer. There was more to my reaction than personal affront, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Finally, last Wednesday night, once again driving home from a day-job sale in Scottsville, Kentucky (see my post Flashbacks for Writers), I got it.
The thing that concerned me about John Grisham’s remarks wasn’t what he said but what he has forgotten. All writers, and I mean ALL WRITERS, are indie writers. No one was born at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List. We all write, and we all market our writing. John Grisham is no exception.
Grisham worked hard to find a publisher for his first book, and many think his best novel, A Time To Kill. As a matter of record, he was rejected by 28 publishers before Wynwood Press, an unknown in the book business, agreed to give it a modest 5,000 copy printing. Grisham, by his own admission, bought most of those and peddled them out of the trunk of his car. If that isn’t the work of indie writers, I don’t know what it is.
The only difference between Stephen Woodfin, a lawyer and writer of legal thrillers, and John Grisham, is that Stephen is marketing his own books, and John has signed up with a big league agent and publisher who sell his. Stephen Woodfin and John Grisham are both indie writers. That is what Grisham has forgotten.
I’m a writer—an indie writer – just like John Grisham and Stephen Woodfin. Who knows? Given the opportunity, I might sign a contract with a big time agent or publisher, maybe not. But until one is offered, I’ll keep selling my books out of the trunk of my car, and on the web, and Facebook, and twitter, and everywhere else I can find someone to buy one. And though I’m not a religious person, I’ll always pray that I don’t forget that I’m an indie writer, and I always will be.
Since you probably won’t have a chance to buy a book out of the trunk of my car, you can see all of them on Amazon.com—just click here—Bert Carson Author’s Page