A week or two ago I saw yet another of those Best Books of 2019 articles in An Important Newspaper. I was surprised by how predictable that list was, but not by the complete absence of indie writers. One of my Twitter followers tagged the article’s author, mentioning the indie scene never getting noticed unless the indie author gets offered a “real” contract. The response was “one of those publishers is a very small indie press”. (I checked. The very small indie press was home to more than 30 authors.) This, unfortunately, wasn’t the question, but once it got clarified the article’s author didn’t respond anymore. An indie writer is not one that has a perfectly normal contract with a perfectly normal publishing house which calls itself indie because it’s not an imprint of the Big 5.

The publishing market has been evolving at the speed of light, single-handedly upended by a certain Jeff Bezos. The monopoly of the agent-editor system is falling apart and unsurprisingly the people who make money out of it don’t like it. The main weapon the Big 5 still have against self-publishers and indie authors is discoverability via The Important Newspapers and The Important Newspapers also know that. Publishers Weekly now offers reviews to indies, except the authors hoping to have their book reviewed have to pay hundreds of $$$ for the privilege. The Best Books Of 2019 You Have Never Heard Of lists tend to be variations on the same fifty titles. What possibly baffles me the most are the well-publicised one-star reviews of really awful books, the only merit of which is that they were published by Simon & Schuster rather than Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing.

Out of the six best books I have read this year five were written/published by indies. Why don’t those books get press? Because they don’t sell enough. Why don’t they sell enough? Because they don’t get press. It used to just be the publishers who made sure some voices would never be heard. Now that there are ways to go around publishers, media gleefully took over the role.

Here are some great indie books I’ve read this year and would recommend to anyone, and there is a chance you’ve really never heard about them. Before I begin, though, I would like to thank all the book bloggers who put their time and work and dedication into helping indie writers and their audiences find each other.

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TW: mentions of rape, suicide, mental illness

First, a disclaimer: I have nothing in common with this project other than the fact I am very happy to see it’s happening. Here’s the IndieGoGo campaign page. Please consider supporting the movie.

I have often seen kids, I mean – Internet users arguing on various forums about which of them is more Valhalla-worthy. As we all know, Valhalla is the enormous hall in Asgard, where the bravest of the warriors chosen by Odin dwell until Ragnarök, spending their days fighting, eating, drinking, being resurrected, I think I got the order incorrectly but nevermind. A large fraction of people tend to understand all this very literally, envisioning medieval warriors with axes and shields – and nothing more modern than that. They then get into heated discussions about whether uncle Sam who fought in Afghanistan for two years is going to Valhalla if he didn’t actually kill anybody and he came back alive. (Some also get into heated discussions about whether killing others in The Witcher counts.)

First of all, for the sake of uncle Sam I hope he isn’t going to Valhalla, because PTSD is a real thing and being forced to spend an eternity fighting and killing all over again isn’t going to make uncle Sam happy at all.

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