Some of today’s independent authors remind me of yesterday’s punk rockers…and that’s a good thing. For the most part, music in the seventies was dominated by stadium rock icons signed to the handful of large record labels. Unknown bands, realizing it would be a futile struggle to wrestle the keys from the record gods, chose instead to create new locks.
With their new sound, new look, and new attitudes the rockers didn’t fit into the established genre. They knew there was a market for them, maybe not the same mainstream market as had ruled the radio waves, but a different, vibrant, and fresh one, that had been ignored.
Established rules didn’t drive these artists, creativity did. Sure, chords were important, but who’s to say three pounding chords were less impressive than a cacophony of multiple ones? It was all a matter of taste, and these independent artists’ goal was to at least provide a sample they could serve to their audience. With total control over every aspect of their career, the musicians and other unsigned artists, created their future.
In a time before internet, when “getting the word out” was very different, the independent artists booked their own shows, designed their own flyers, pounded the pavement, and posted them on every available light pole and vacant wall. If they attracted folks through the door and into their show, they hoped some would find their talent appealing, word of mouth would spread, and their audience would grow. They booked their own recording sessions, pressed vinyl, cassettes, and eventually cds, and sold them for five bucks at their shows, and through fanzines.
When word spread, labels came looking at bands. Some became very successful, others not so much. Talent rose to the top, while the posers faded away. I never considered the success of such artists as Patti Smith, the Ramones and Blondie, to name a few, as “selling out” as some of the punk rockers claimed they had. They all started with the same spark, and it was up to them to set the fire that would blaze in the bellies of their audience.
The same can be said of today’s independent authors. In a market where the Big Six publishing companies would rather grant a huge contract deal to someone like Snooki, who proudly claims she only read one book in her life, rather than even look at sample chapters from a “nobody” because they don’t have a built-in audience, self-publishing independent authors have created their own destiny. And just like some bands really sucked, some authors do too, and it’s not just independents. But, even the talented independents have to work harder to prove they are “worthy.” And the ones that are, will. Just give them a chance…
By the way, I was a punk rocker, and now, I am an independent author.
Here's a video from Television, a band that never achieved the success I believe they deserved...
"I get ideas...I get notions..."