What I learned picking berries

Berry5A 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.)

berry 2Indie-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.)

berry 1The 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?

7 thoughts on “What I learned picking berries

  1. What a fun analogy, Lois! You’re right. Indie publishing does give tweens more choices. I lament the fact that so many indie authors still create thorns, making it more difficult to locate the berries. But that’s when sites like this really show their worth. Nineteen tween authors who have invested money to make sure their books are professionally prepared, all in one place! Book reviewers also help “pick the berries.” I hope more reviewers are drawn to the Tween the Weekends meme.

  2. Brings back memories. I used to pick wild berries along the road near my house. Most of them are gone now, but your analogy is accurate. We indie authors are interspersed throughout the publishing world. The difference is that we are spreading rapidly and are not going away any time soon!

  3. That “thrill of discovery” is powerful, isn’t it? The feeling of running across something that few people have found is rare in our over-busy, technological world. Yet, there are thousands of undiscovered berries out there in cyberspace, just waiting for someone to lift a digital leaf. 🙂 Loved your analogy, Lois!

  4. Yo, Lois, you sure have a way with words! Love your analogy! It’s like the book market has suddenly cracked open with a whole new kind of fruit to share with the world! Well done!

  5. I love this creative approach to indie publishing. I have found, too, that for some reason the fruit from these surprise berries are often the sweetest and juiciest. I’ve never heard of thimbleberries, however. I’m going to look them up.

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