Three Women/Three Books – one major epiphany

Yesterday I had the distinct and wonderful honour of sharing the stage and podium with two great women writers: Sandra Nicholls and Nerys Parry.

We were reading from our novels and tackling questions on the pros and cons of traditional versus self published authors.

Sandra is an indie author like me. She regaled the pros of having complete control over your own work and detailed the exhausting cons of needing to be press, promoter and manager of your own career.

Nerys has an agent and a traditional publisher. She touched on the pros of having a collaborative team behind you who support your creativity and the cons of still requiring to do a lot of the press yourself when you’re a first time novelist.

I realized as they spoke that as an indie author I have inadvertently placed myself among those that are judged and discriminated against because of the method I chose for publication.

Being the only brown girl in most of my schools growing up, I am no stranger to the damage that can be done when people try to pigeon hole you or assume you are only one dimensional, inferior and not good enough because you are different.

The indie author suffers from a similar stigma.

Sure, times are changing.

As Nerys most wisely pointed out, readers don’t care how you got published, only writers do.

She is right.

But reviewers and book award committees care and there are still many of both that will not consider your work if you have decided to publish on your own. The stigma of not having the approval of a publishing house or agent still stings when your work isn’t taken as seriously because it doesn’t fit the prescribed genres built to accommodate a marketing machine’s proven safe bets.

And then something remarkable happened.

We each read from our novels.

And I witnessed the crowd reacting with joy, empathy and laughter.

They were moved.

Each of us read very different passages and each of us elicited very different reactions from the crowd. But all three of us touched total strangers with our words. At that moment it didn’t matter who the publisher of our work was, it only mattered that we reached them with prose.

That feeling, of looking out into a crowd, witnessing them react to the emotions that you create for them with your work was one of the most magnificent moments I have had since the launch of my novel.

It reminded me that though we were three women, with three different books and three different avenues to publication we were united in the one thing that really mattered: The written word and it’s ability to transform, ignite and inspire change.

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