Today, TNBBC is helping 1889 Labs celebrate the release of Merge, which is a collection of thirteen short stories, set in a world reeling from the discovery of transhumans, that charts the loves, the betrayals, and the struggle for survival in a world where humans and transhumans are uneasy neighbours.
It's a three week long blog tour that offers giveaways, short story excerpts, and other blog toury type things. TNBBC's role in this event is to kick back and allow A.M. Harte - Editor in Chief of 1889 Labs and author of Hungry For You - to dish on what being indie means to her. I encourage you to sit back as well, and discover 1889 Labs, indie collective publishing, and Merge for yourself!
THE TRICK TO BEING INDIE
I have a confession to make.
Although I am the editor-in-chief of an indie press, I've never stopped to think about what it actually means. The broad differences between traditional and indie publishing are obvious, but what does being indie mean to me? What does my press, 1889 Labs, actually want?
Perhaps I should start at the beginning.
My progression into the indie sphere was a gradual one. I started off as an avid reader of online fiction, and quickly progressed into posting online fiction of my own.
Then two things happened: ebooks surged in popularity, and I joined twitter.
Many of the writers I followed on twitter, who posted fiction online, were also talking about ebooks. Through their online work, they already had a fanbase—why wait around for some trad pubber to take notice, when they could self-publish and start selling now? As my circle of acquaintances widened, I discovered more authors releasing their own work, authors whose work I admired (Graham Storrs, Kait Nolan, and Susan Bischoff come to mind.)
Indie to me, at that point, meant going solo. Screw the big publishers, take control of your destiny. Believe in yourself and your stories.
Then I met MCM.
MCM is the founder of 1889 Labs. Back in 2006, he released a little ebook called The Pig and the Box, about a pig and a magic box (and the evils of DRM). Two million downloads later, he released it in print, under the 1889 Labs imprint, and from there the company started to grow.
1889 Labs was founded because MCM believed in himself and his stories. Because he wanted to take control of his destiny, and have the freedom to try all sorts of crazy experiments. It was, for the first few years, a solo operation, much like the indie authors I already knew.
But then MCM invited me to join 1889 Labs. And I, being far more sociable and well-connected, began to bring other people aboard. First Terra Whiteman, author of the popular webfiction series The Antithesis, then Greg X Graves, Melissa Jones, Letitia Coyne....
From a solo operation, 1889 Labs became a collective.
So what does being indie mean, for a collective like ours?
To us, indie is a way of thinking, rather than the number of people involved. Being an indie press means helping authors stay independent, giving authors choice, involving them in every step of the way. Rather than publishers, we see ourselves as enablers, helping those authors who, for whatever reason, don't want to take the solo route.
And, of course, being an indie press means having the freedom to try all sorts of future crazy experiments, too, the latest example being our paranormal thriller series MERGE.
MERGE started off as a tiny idea in MCM's head. He got talking to 1889 authors Kit Iwasaki and Yvonne Reid, and then started chatting to me, and all of a sudden we were co-writing a thirteen-story series which would be published in quick succession across 4 weeks. I made the mistake of mentioning blog tours, and now we weren't only writing a 13-story series; we were running a blog tour alongside publication, and giving away prizes like a brand new iPad.
(And if you're interested in following along with MERGE, please check out http://1889.ca/merge for full details on all the blog tour stops and how to win.)
Do you want to know our dirty secret? Only two months passed between MERGE's initial conception to its launch on May 28th. Even now, halfway into the series and blog tour, I cannot believe how quickly 1889 Labs turned the tiniest seed of an idea into reality—and when I think of it, it reminds me why it's so great to be indie.
But being part of 1889 Labs is more, to me, than being indie. It also means being part of a happy, if slightly dysfunctional, family. Except now MCM has help in bringing to life his insane ideas.
...God help me, what have I unleashed?
ABOUT AM HARTE