Indie publishing has recently been likened to both an Olympic sport and an American Idol competition and in certain respects, both analogies are somewhat on point. After all, athletes, contestants and indie authors all have one thing in common. They are all pursuing their respective roads to glory and like their Olympic athlete and Idol contestant counterparts, not all indie writers have what it takes to attain that “glory”.
There’s an air of unbridled excitement and expectation as the world gears up for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. With the world literally counting down the hours until the opening ceremonies, athletes and reporters from around the globe slowly begin trickling in to a place not known to many prior to these Olympic Games and with such intense scrutiny on the athletes, their pressure begins to mount in anticipation of the days ahead. For the past four years, athletes have dedicated countless hours honing their bodies and perfecting their respective skill sets in order to be good enough to earn a coveted spot on their countries’ respective Olympic teams. Once the games begin, these athletes will have only a few fleeting moments to drive their bodies to breaking point to accomplish the quickest time, the longest jump or the most goals.
For the dedicated indie author, the preparation process is similar to that of an Olympic athlete. There will be many hours spent writing and re-writing a paragraph, a page or a chapter until there is cohesion and flow. There will be countless drafts, major edits and total re-writes and, once published, that is when the Games will begin for the indie author. Like their athlete counterparts, indie authors must fight for their books to gain recognition on the readership stage. However, unlike their athlete counterparts, indie authors have the opportunity to try again if their first book fails – and they don’t have to wait four years to do it.
Which now brings us to American Idol. Unlike the Olympic Games, where all who participate are already world-class athletes, Idol contestants are presented to their audience largely untried and raw. In fact, the vetting process on Idol is popular for its entertainment value and has contributed hugely to the show’s overall success. Idol is an American reality singing competition series created by Simon Fuller and produced by 19 Entertainment. It began airing on Fox on June 11, 2002 and is based on the British series, Pop Idol. Since its debut, Idol has become one of the most successful shows in the history of American television and has become a springboard for launching the careers of singers who have gone on to become bona fide stars. According to Billboard Magazine, in its first ten years, “Idol has spawned 345 Billboard chart-toppers and a platoon of pop idols, including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken, Adam Lambert and Jordin Sparks while remaining a TV ratings juggernaut”. Thanks to its huge success, Idol has also spawned a number of singing competition shows such as Rock Star, Nashville Star and The Voice while its format also served as a blueprint for competition shows like Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance.
And with each Idol season, comes a new stable of memorable and not-so-memorable singer wannabes, young and old. Many are tone deaf and sadly unable to carry a tune while others are awkward and look like they’re afraid of their own shadows, yet they’re usually the ones who boast the loadest that they have what it takes to be the next American Idol; their ill-fated dreams usually fuelled by some well-meaning family member or a beloved singing teacher. For these Idol wannabes, their road to glory comes to a grinding halt early on in the vetting process. For the indie author wannabes who want to publish simply because there’s a process in place that enables them to do so, or because they believe they have what it takes to become a successful author solely on the basis of Aunt Minnie’s loving words of encouragement, the road to glory will likely come to a grinding halt shortly after publication. As indie writers focus on their road to glory, they must not lose sight of three important factors:
1. You should be writing because you need to write, not because someone told you you should.
2. Realize that people who don’t know you and don’t love you will also be buying your book so make sure it’s marketable.
3. While writing may be a personal journey for you, publishing is a business and you must always treat it as such.