A few weeks back my family took a four-wheel ride on some mountain roads. Along the way, we noticed the trail was lined with green, leafy wild raspberry and thimbleberry bushes. The fruit growing on them was perfectly ripe and ready to eat.
All six of us hopped off our machines and began picking. My two youngest were the most energetic. Yes, there were a number of thorns, and yes, the berries were not as large as those we buy in the grocery store, but it felt so amazing to have found this wild fruit that otherwise might have dried on the vine.
As we continued on our way, my mind started making an analogy between indie publishing and wild berries. (Yes, I am slightly obsessed.)
Indie-published books are like wild berries growing without the help of commercial farms (the big six publishers) and fertilizers (marketing budgets). And while there are “thorns” in the indie publishing field of which readers must be wary (books published without any thought to professionalism), there are so many other ripe and delicious books ready to be picked.
Many books that are independently published don’t fit into the major publishers’ “norm,” either in size, genre, or whatever. Without the possibility of indie publishing, many thriving, non-mainstream books might have dried up on someone’s hard drive, lost forever.
So what does this have to do with “tween” books? Depending on what is popular, certain genres don’t get as much interest from agents and publishers looking for “the next big thing.” Several years ago, it was very difficult to generate interest in a middle grade book. At least that was my experience and that of some of my associates. Everything being published was young adult. (According to an agent I know, tables have definitely turned but that is not the point of this blog.)
The point is that good books are so vital to the education of our youth. Reading both non-fiction and fiction at a young age develops the mind and prepares it for bigger and better things. With independent publishing alive and well, there will always be a plethora of books for our pre-teens and teens to choose from, regardless of what is the “hot” genre at the moment.
By having both successful traditional publishers and flourishing indie writers, it’s like having a system of checks and balances in the world of books. Some readers will go to the grocery store for their large, mass produced berries (which can be a very good thing.) Others will seek out their own patch of wild berries at indie bookstores and online retailers. And many will choose to gather from both sources—the best from both words.
What do you think about the vitality of both traditional and independently published books and what that means to the “tween” genre?