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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Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Marian L. Thorpe, the author of Empire’s Legacy trilogy (out now as complete omnibus version in paperback and e-book – an absolute steal at $5.99) – one of my favourite reads of the year so far.

 

Marian L. Thorpe author photoBjørn asked a hard and insightful question: what is my series, Empire’s Legacy, really about? At first glance, they might appear to be a simple adventure-romance trilogy, set in an early-medieval world, with people a lot like Gaels and Vikings and Saxons vying for power and land, and the memory of the Roman Empire just barely alive.

At first glance. But about half-way through the first of the trilogy, Empire’s Daughter, the character Casyn says this to my protagonist, eighteen-year-old Lena: “…we cannot shape the circumstances to fit our lives, only our lives to fit the circumstances. What defines us, as men and women, is how we respond to those circumstances.”

Much of the Empire’s Legacy series looks, through its protagonist’s eyes, at the difficulty and the price of taking personal responsibility for the choices we make in life, good or bad; about shaping our responses to events – political and personal – that change our lives. This isn’t to say my characters are Panglossian, or Pollyannas. They know they don’t live in the best of all possible worlds, and that not all is sweetness and light. Life throws some horrible things at them: war, betrayal, violence, loss, rejection. It’s unfair. Some of it is imposed by forces beyond their control. Some of it is a direct result of personal choice, and some of it is a combination of those things.

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