Monday, December 29, 2014

Stephen Kozeniewksi On Being Indie

On "Being Indie" is a blog series, here on TNBBC, that introduces us to a wide variety of independent authors, publishers, and booksellers as they discuss what being indie means to them.  

Stephen Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key") lives with his wife and two cats in Pennsylvania, the birthplace of the modern zombie.  During his time as a Field Artillery officer, he served for three years in Oklahoma and one in Iraq, where due to what he assumes was a clerical error, he was awarded the Bronze Star.  He is also a classically trained linguist, which sounds much more impressive than saying his bachelor’s degree is in German. You can find him on AmazonFacebookTwitterGoodreads, at his Blog, and join his Mailing List.

I don't know what being indie means.  I don't know if I am indie.  I guess I am.

I don't mean this in any sort of a smartass way.  And I certainly don't mean it as a political statement, which, trust me, lots of people do.  Imagine, if you will, a professorial type, black plastic frames to his glasses, a jacket with leather elbows, smoking at a pipe of pungent tobacco.

"Indie?" he proclaims, nearly choking on his $200 bottle of cognac, "Poppycock!  Certainly not!  I'm traditionally published, old sport."

And then he breaks into a rousing rendition of "Boola Boola."

On the other hand, picture a hipster, one finger to his upper lip to show off his moustache tattoo, the other desperately clutching a can of PBR.

"Traditional, maaaan?" he cries over the Arcade Fire anthem pumping in the background, "You mean legacy publishing?  Dead pulp matter?  Hell to the no, droog, I'm indie all the way!"

And at this point about half of you reading (aka the readers) are going, "What the hell is this guy on about?"  And the other half (aka the writers) are nodding along in pained sympathy.

It's a minefield out there, you see.  First of all, nothing means anything.  If you write but don't have a book out you could be "pre-published" or "unpublished" or "a writer but not an author" or an "aspiring author" or just a damn "author."  Not to mention "agented" or "unagented."  If you have a contract with the Big 6 (or "Big 5+1", or just "Big 5"), sometimes it's called "traditional publishing" and sometimes it's called "legacy publishing" and sometimes it's just called "publishing" as though nothing else counts.  And if you released your book yourself, my God, you could be an "author-publisher," an "indie author," "self-published," or just damn "unpublished" as far as some people are concerned.

And pretty much every single one of these terms is emotionally charged to certain segments of the population.  (I'm not even kidding.  Try calling someone "self-published" when they describe themselves as an "author-publisher."  Let me know how that pans out for you.)

So.  What the heck am I?  Well, I guess I'm an "indie."  That's fine if someone wants to call me that.  If someone wants to call me "traditionally published," too, I'm fine with that.  The only time I really worry about it is when a reviewer specifies they don't accept...some kind of which case I call myself the one they do accept. 

I went with a small publisher for all three of my novels.  One was published with Red Adept Publishing, a very new and impressive press out of Raleigh, NC.  The other two were with Severed Press, a well-regarded horror publisher out of Hobart, Australia.  (Fun fact: if I ever have a dispute with my publisher, by contract I have to present at the courthouse in Tasmania.)

My publishers took care of all the crap work as far as I'm concerned.  They did the covers, the editing, the accounting, and some of the marketing.  I still have to market quite a bit myself.  For instance, um, writing blogposts like this.  (Beats genetically engineering an albino gorilla to shout "BUY BRAINEATER JONES!" from the rooftops, I guess.)

So I'm kind of a hybrid?  But I'm also not that, because "hybrid author" is a whole other thing I don't even want to get into right now.

But here's what I want to say about being "indie" if that is what I am.  ("Jesus," I can hear you all saying, "Only took you until 500 words into your 800 word essay to get to the point, huh, Hemingway?")  The people that I have met in this business are a point of joy in my life.  There are fellow Red Adept authors, like Mary Fan, Elizabeth Corrigan, and Claire Ashby, who I speak to literally every day for support.  There are Severed authors like Ian McClellan and H.E. Goodhue who I can commiserate with on how to fix a scene, how to get the most gore out of my zombie, what, exactly, would come out if you ripped someone's face off, all that important stuff.

And then there are the fans.  No screaming groupies yet.  (Although you know where to find me, ladies.)  But I have people who message and e-mail me to say they like my work.  Or they leave reviews and say, "I never left a review before, but I wanted Steve to know..."  And then there are professional reviewers, people like Shana Festa, who, despite putting me at the kiddie table, I still tolerate, and Syliva Bagaglio and Sharon Stevenson and Nikki Howard and and and (and hopefully Lori if I haven't rambled on too long already.)  People who eagerly gobble up my books, tell the world about them, and even talk to me afterwards.

So, whatever "indie" means, if being indie means I get to be a part of this community, then I'm indie all the way, baby.  *shotguns can of PBR*

1 comment: