Oct. 10, 2016 (edited Nov. 15, 2017)
Having attended an Indie Book Fair recently as an author, I learned some valuable information regarding marketing and distribution, but the overall message of the advice left me feeling disheartened regarding the arbitrary standardization of the publishing industry. Instead of focusing on creativity and literary talent, the speakers at the event seemed to emphasize orthodoxy in page design (justified text, avoidance of stylistic content-driven page and paragraph breaks, etc.). I support the importance of proper grammar and punctuation and feel that these aspects, along with originality in content, expression, and style, are essential in quality writing. I do not believe, however, that standardization of font, margins, and other traditional publishing practices should be given such a high priority. After all, readers would probably not notice or care whether the margins were justified. In fact, often justified margins make reading more difficult to comprehend due to breaks in words. Even though there are increasing numbers of indie authors, the publishing industry persists in perpetuating typographic conventions that are usually not used in Word or other common writing programs; in so doing, the publishing industry imposes an arbitrary standard to differentiate between indie and non-indie authors so that indie writers may feel pressured into purchasing services to make their work appear more like traditional published materials, thereby making their work less independent, more restricted by financial concerns. In addition, publishers seem to be promoting an increasingly conventional approach to cover design, resulting in a glut of covers featuring blandly attractive, nearly identical male torsos or other figurative clichés associated with the book’s genre.
Independent authors, musicians, artists and filmmakers represent a challenge to the financially-driven industries that struggle to maintain a monopoly on the arts by propagating lookalike, superficially pleasing but often substanceless clones. The literary renegades, such as William Burroughs and J. G. Ballard, the ravaged voices of Leonard Cohen and Patti Smith, these muses of rebellion and individuality epitomize the freedom, intensity, and expressive potential of the independent, creative spirit. I invite indie creators in any of the arts to join in solidarity, supporting each other and the ideal of artistic freedom. In that spirit of independence combined with mutual support, I have created the Indie Creative Alliance group on Facebook; please feel free to click on the following link to join the group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/269464480120915/