Hey hey you lovely, lovely and bloody gorgeous people. Welcome one and welcome ALL to my humble, hirsute blog. If you are a brand new visitor then please leave your shoes at the keyboard as I’ve just vacuumed and I don’t want it all messed up. Oh, and there are nibbles and a can of peas on the side so please help yourself.
May I take the time to thank you from the bottom of my bottom for visiting today. I’m guessing that you are here to read the guest post from Derek Farrell as part of the inaugural #IndieCrimeCrawl? If that is the case you are in luck for it follows at the end of my preamble below…
Oy, come back, I haven’t finished preambling yet. Rude! I wouldn’t wander off like that if you were in the middle of preambling. Have some manners, please. The very notion. That’s okay, I’ll put it down to eagerness and over-excitement. It’s all good 😊
Okay as I was saying…
What was I saying? Oh yes, Derek. Right, so, who is Derek Farrell anyway? Let me enlighten you:
Derek Farrell is an author. Okay, no big surprise there I guess. What else can I tell you then? He is Irish, wears glasses, has a jaunty hairdo, and is very happily married to his husband of some 30 years (though they haven’t been married that long, obvs, but you know what I mean), so hands off!
But much more importantly than any of that, Derek is the author of the utterly wonderful and stupidly brilliant Danny Bird series of books. I have SO MUCH LOVE FOR THESE BOOKS I COULD LITERALLY EXPLODE 🥰🥰💥
I HAVE PREVIOUSLY REVIEWE….
BUGGER, THE CAPS LOCK IS STUCK… HOLD… ON… IT WON’T TURN off. Ah, there we go.
As I was saying, I have previously reviewed these books and you may find the links to those very reviews here:
I have also conducted a Q&A with Derek and you may read that here:
And that’s not all Derek Fans, for he also very kindly offered a guest post on his favourite queer crime reads, which you can peruse, yes you guessed it, here:
Oof, that’s a lot of Derek right there. Once you have read those links (and you will read them now, right? We are friends now, yes? Good good, just checking), you’ll also fall in love with this hilarious guy and his books. I have met Mr. Farrell in person and I can confirm that he is a genuinely warm, funny and friendly guy.
Now that you are familiar with Derek and his body of work (not his actual body. As I’ve already said, he is married), let us turn our attentions to his publisher, Fahrenheit Press.
You may notice that in all of the above links, except one, there is the hashtag #Fahrenbruary. I’m not going to go in to what that is all about right here, but, oh alright cocky pants, you guessed it already, yes, here is a link explaining what it is, why it was, and how it came about:
I also reblogged a post from my partner in #Fahrenbruary Crime, Matt Keyes, from It’s An Indie Book Blog, with his own rationale behind the month (while you’re there, check out his blog; his reviews are fucking brilliant. Love him 😊)…
And so, what do I have for you today? Well, as I have already hinted at the very top of this post I have a guest post for you from the man wot I have been waffling on about, Derek Farrell.
So feast your eyes upon what Derek thinks are the 4 best, and 1 worst, things about the Indie Crime scene.
So it’s Indie Crime Crawl and I got to thinking about the whole scene, and thought Id share some of the best – and one of the worst – things about the whole Indie Crime Universe.
Indie Crime is Hard boiled, cozys, literary, private eyes, police procedurals, amateur detectives, ghost dogs, crime-solving cats, serial killers, spys, spivs, spy hunters, bounty hunters, prison breakouts. It’s bank jobs, blow jobs and one-last-jobs. It’s set on every continent on the planet and sometimes in outer space. It’s experimental, traditional and all things in between. Amongst Indie Crime authors you’ll find realists surrealists, fantasists, cynics and hardboiled business people.
And the indie publishers themselves are not the boilerplate media conglomerates that increasingly make up the mainstream arts and entertainment landscape. They are authorpreneurs (more on that later) and small one-(wo)man-band setups, all the way up to publishing houses with complex sales structures and reach that puts them on the same shelves as the Big Boys and Girls.
What they publish is no longer necessarily the stuff-nobody-else-wants (though sometimes – and to great critical and financial success – it is the stuff nobody could figure out how to market within the strictures of a mainstream publishing setup).
Basically, if you like crime fiction – the stories, the characters, the thrills or the deep psychological studies of the villains and victims; if you’re intrigued by plot pacing great writing and pure variety, there’s something for you in the Indie world.
This piece is being published as part of Indie Crime Crawl, a week-long celebration of all things Indie Crime that was conceived and is being run by readers and bloggers. No giant industrial monolith set their marketing department to make this happen.
Earlier this year the same community created and delivered Fahrenbruary, a month-long celebration of the indie publisher Fahrenheit Press and F13, and later in the year the indie community will be running a similar festival focussed entirely on the output from Orenda Books.
And every week readers, bloggers, lovers of all things Crime (fiction) are sharing their favourite books, reviewing the ones that made them laugh or shudder or remember what it’s like to be alive or terrified or falling in love.
And they do this with deep passion for all books, but it feels like the Indie fans have an almost gang sense of us-against-the-world that’s not always present elsewhere.
And what do all of these celebrations – the micro “You must read this book”s all the way up to the Structured scheduled events – have in common? A grass-roots, love-lead, bottom-up approach. A sense that ‘these books are ours,’ that the rising tide carries all before it.
Once upon a time an author would write a book and send it to an agent who might like it and – if they did – would undertake to drag the manuscript around their contacts in the publishing world. If one of those contacts – an editor, say, at a prestigious publishing house – liked the book the author would be offered a contract, a (usually, despite what The Bookseller would have you believe) small advance against royalties and the machinery of that esteemed publishing house would kick in so that eventually a critic would be provided with a copy of the book in the hope that they would (a) read it and (b) then review it favourably in whichever slowly atrophying newspaper they worked for.
Can you see – as an author and as a reader – the issue with that model?
Gatekeepers. There are layer on layer of them, each of them paid a salary and each needing to justify that salary and to ensure that nothing they do goes wrong and results in them getting the sack.
Now there’s still a lot to be said for mainstream publishers: They have a marketing clout most indies can only dream of (though how they use this is not always of use to readers or writers. Which book between a gritty noir novel by an unknown and a new book – ostensibly by a Kardashian – on how to apply lipstick is gonna get the marketing budget, do you reckon?) They do have people who are passionate about books working for them. They do – mostly – genuinely want to build careers and relationships.
But you know what they don’t have?
The freedom to say “Screw it; we’re gonna publish a 700 page Zombie Heist Thriller,” because they love the manuscript, or the freedom to say “We’re going to start to produce tete-beche back-to-back novellas because the idea is a cool one and none of the big boys n girls are doing it.
Fahrenheit press – the people who publish me – have done both the above since the start of this summer.
Indies might struggle to access the standard platform-building avenues that mainstream authors and publishers do: Some kindle Createspace published authors will have trouble getting in to Chain book stores, and because many of the larger festivals are (again, not unfairly) focussed on book sales and booksellers, access to panels can be limited, but as Joanna Penn points out in “How to market a Book” and Dara Beevas In “The Indie Author Revolution,” we are creative people. That’s why we write, publish, dream in ideas. So we come up with smarter ways to get the books out there. We talk directly to our readers. Our readers (some of them) become our strongest cheerleaders.
We engage in Guerrilla marketing we talk to librarians and pitch the books. And we make the most natural and obvious connection in the world: We independent authors published by independent publishers talk to independent booksellers who get the struggle better than anyone, and we do this day after day after day.
Indies – whether authors, publishers, or authorpreneurs (authors who not only write the books but take responsibility either personally or via sub-contracted parties, for marketing, selling and profiting directly and personally from their work) have the freedom to do (within legal boundaries) whatever they want to. Rules are for corporate cubicle zombies. Indies get to tear up that rule book. Write what you want. Publish how you want. Find your readership. It might not be a million people and selling in every airport bookshop on the planet. But the knowledge that the number of gatekeepers between you and your dream could be as little as zero is Freedom.
Independents – publishers or authors – are small. Agile. They rarely have an entire Q4 Bonus scheme riding on one book (Hello Dan Brown and Penguin Random House). So if they decide a few months in that the cover on the book isn’t working, they won’t need three months of two hour meetings and a vast global budget to bin it and start again. Likewise if they realise that the Amazon categories the book has been launched in are actually holding it back, they can change them – and the price the book is offered at – five times a day if they want. Yeah, the majors are now wise to the benefits of this behaviour, but that risk aversion I referenced above – the need to ensure you are seen to earn your salary and that you do nothing to risk the cashflow – means that they’re often instinctively (and, it must be said, understandably) cautious.
An independent gets to do whatever the fuck they want because of the agility coupled with the relatively lower level of financial repercussions. Changed the cover and sales tanked? Pull the book, put the old cover on it, put the book back up. A day, two tops, lost in sales (yes, I know not chicken feed, but remember: Mainstream publishers have killed books by misbranding them, and having to wait six months before a new print run allowed them to redesign the cover).
It’s not for everyone, this indie approach. If you dream of Lunch at Soho House and of paying off the mortgage in a book or two then – to be totally honest – writing (let alone publishing) probably isn’t for you. Almost nobody makes vast amounts of money in this business, whether trad or indie, but if you love stories, freedom, flexibilty, creativity, community, and variety, and the vaguest hope of a fortune that could be yours if all the chips fall the right way (but most likely won’t) then I can highly recommend joining the Indie Crime Bus.
I referenced it a couple of times above, and I don’t wanna dwell on negativity, so here goes with the one annoying thing about Indie Publishing:
There’s an idea – something that’s floated around since the days when the only way to be a published author was either via the established houses (all those gatekeepers) or a vanity publisher (who, for a fee from the author, would print whatever the author wanted).
This fuelled the idea that only people who couldn’t get a ‘proper’ deal go indie (and that Indie is, therefore, somehow lesser).
But this perception has always been faulty. Alexandre Dumas, L Frank Baum and Beatrix Potter to name three were originally self published by what would have been sniffed at in the day as Vanity Publishers.
And nowadays, and in increasing numbers, quality authors are actively choosing to go the Indie route. To avoid the cog-in-a-machine sense that the big houses can engender; to publish the things they are passionate about and to leapfrog the glacial Trad decision-making process that can see the energy sucked from a book by the time it’s actually on shelves.
Doesn’t stop some people pausing before smiling when you tell them you’re Independent.
Doesn’t stop many of the Big Writers Associations and Festivals explicitly excluding Indie authors from their memberships or their panel criteria (until, one assumes, that indie author has a breakout book that sells a million copies at which time they get panel offerings and membership cards for whatever association they want).
The snobbery is still sometimes present. And it grates.
But you know what? It’s fading as more and more quality comes down this unfairly maligned channel, as readers bloggers journalists lovers of well written well presented exciting and original crime fiction discover that there are vastly more positive things about Indie Crime than negative.
Enjoy the discovering folks!
My biggest and squishiest of hugs and thanks to Derek for offering me this brilliant guest post for my blog. Check out the #IndieCrimeCrawl hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to discover more amazing Independent authors and publishers, and for discounts and offers on books and merchandise.