Well, hello everyone! It’s certainly been a while. Keven here. Your friendly neighborhood NAF founder, with something I want to share with the amazing readers that have been following us through all of these years.
The past few months have seen a change in my perspective on being a writer…something that’s been on the cusp for a few years now. I’m just now figuring out how to articulate this in a meaningful way to readers, but I think I can. And I think it’s an important word for all the Christian indie writers out there.
Last month I had the privilege to attend the Realm Makers conference for the first time. During some of my volunteer work as an appointment timer two significant things happened. I had the opportunity to talk to a few of the next generation writers and publishers. I also had the opportunity to have an open and honest conversation with one of the agents there about the industry.
I found myself making the following statement to that agent: “Some of us who have been around since near the beginning of the indie press scene have become a little jaded with the whole thing.”
As I pondered the deeper meaning of what I had said, I continued to interact with the next generation of writers and I noticed something I think is quite significant. They are not jaded. They are full of hope and excitement.
I must digress here to explain a few things. My first novel was published in 2011. I consider myself part of that first generation of indie writers. It’s hard to think that in a mere five years we’d already have another generation coming in, but it’s true. (If you know what LGG stands for, you may be of the first generation.)
I saw this in the fact that random people I had never met recognized my name and knew about my book. I saw it in the fact that Kerry Neitz was dubbed our “founding father,” when his debut novel was released a mere year and a half before my own. I saw it in the fact that so many people who were “in charge” at Realm Makers were the same people trying to break into publishing at the same time as me. In fact, many of the RM organizers are NAF Alumni…people I recruited back when they were just getting started with writing.
And in front of that agent I pronounced many of us of that early generation as jaded. Why? Because I’ve had countless conversations with many of my fellow writers who wanted to quit writing. Because those same writers helped talk me off the ledge when I wanted to quit. Because I can give you a list of absolutely brilliant writers who did quit.
We became jaded because we were the ones who had to compromise on our dream. We began our writing journeys before the digital publishing revolution. We had to evolve as the industry was evolving. We had to relearn what publishing meant. We had to learn what marketing was and how to do it when things were still changing…most of which didn’t even work.
We had all these hopes and dreams about “traditional” publishing as it used to be, but what we got was nothing like it. We couldn’t live the dream. The dream had to be relegated to a hobby and to a labor of love. We were still patching up a vehicle several decades old while we watched in frustration as newer writers passed us by in their fancy new sleek vehicles of an indie designed strategy.
And I think it broke a lot of us.
Those that survived the breaking became overprotective of their work and of their writing career. They’ve embraced the fact that they can do it themselves, and they’re asking the tough questions of indie publishers now. Questions like, “What can you do for me that I can’t do for myself?”
The next generation of writers came into a new system already functioning, at least in part, as it does now. The major renaissance had occurred, and all that was left was the tweaking and settling…the aftershocks of the earthquake.
The apocalypse happened. The first generation lived on the old side, lived through the chaos, and have had to relearn how to live on the other side. This next generation has only ever known the other side.
They already know that writing will probably never be a full-time career. They already know they have to do their own marketing, and have found ways to make it work. They never had the dream of the traditional glamorized publishing career – with the old farm house, wrap-around porch, and the perfect upstairs writing space, all in a sleepy town proud of their “celebrity” writer – because they came into this writing thing with a healthy perspective of the new publishing landscape. And they’re happy with it. They’re excited about the possibilities
Maybe I’m over thinking things, but at the very least this is how I’ve felt. This is in part why it took me so long to finish my third book. Lest I speak for everyone of my writing generation, let me just say that I don’t know for certain this is how they feel. But it’s how I have felt. I, if no one else, have been jaded and discouraged and have almost quit many times.
Yet I have seen in this next generation a tremendous amount of optimism, joy, and healthy perspective. I think that’s what we need now in the Christian indie and indie press publishing scene. Writing is not what it was twenty years ago. It’s not what it was five years ago. But what it has become is something I want to be a part of again.
As I worked through life issues that I’ve had over the past few years, with major adjustments and the beginning of a new chapter in my life as a pastor, I finally found a place of stasis where I could work on Acolyte, the third book of my Winter series. I wanted to get back into the “game,” only to realize the game is different now…and I like that. I’m not sure I can stand next to the innovators of this next generation or not, but at least I know there’s a place for me and that I don’t have to be jaded anymore.
Acolyte hit the metaphorical shelves on June 1st, and has had what I can only describe as abysmal sales. But you know what? I don’t care. The old dream would have cared. The new dream sees a healthier picture on life, pursuing God, and finding joy in a story well written. I’m writing more than I have in years…not only making long strides on Winter 4, but also chomping at the bit to write the NEXT book. (I’ve actually started it. Couldn’t help it!) And…here’s a shocker for some of you…I’ve actually been inspired to write a short story. **GASP**
Here’s to the new dream.
Here’s to the new generation of indie writing.
I hope you “new” people can find room for an “old” fogey like me. I may still have a few tricks up my sleeve, after all. And I hope that those of you in the first generation of indie publishing who are burned out, jaded, and maybe even retired from writing, that you’ll come join me over here on the other side.
We may or may not have cheesecake waiting for you.