The Writing Shed: A Community Blog

Author Ann Elia Stewart blogs about writing

Supporting Indies

Written by Ann Elia Stewart, Community Blogger | Mar 6, 2013 6:02 PM

I keep seeing these memes pop up on Facebook about supporting artists, writers, photographers, jewelry makers, sculptors -- THE ARTS -- but particularly indie artists: people like me and many of my friends, family and colleagues who maintain a little space to feed their souls. Some paint amazing works, others sculpt the daydreams (or nightmares!) of their minds, while still others create one-of-a-kind purses or twist and bend metals and implant gemstones into wearable art. 

Here, I'd like you to meet a few indie authors I know.  We all struggle to find that elusive prize: readers. While every one of these writers' works can be found on, you'll be hard pressed to know about it unless you are in their circle of friends and acquaintances or happen to stumble upon their work through or some random magazine article highlighting their hard work. To say it's tougher than ever to sell a book today is a vast understatement. So many wonderful reads wade through the ocean that is the Internet where they bump against flotsam like the latest cute cat video on You Tube  or withstand gale force winds generated by tripe that shall go unnamed but garners million dollar sales because it hit a collective (hollow) nerve. Nabbing an agent and a book deal with the Big Five still looms large for any author and one can wait a lifetime for it. 

When the urge to write strikes, when the writer jumps through all the right hoops —joining writing groups, attending writing workshops, investing in an MFA program, and above all: writing, writing, writing, then revising until they can no longer see straight — one wants to share their stories with the world!  Well, at least a portion of the reading population. This is where small publishers fill that space between the Holy Grail of the Big Five and the publish-anything crowd known as vanity presses. 

But, here's the rub: small publishers do not have the resources to push the books they print, garner the NPR interviews, or blow their authors' works all over The New Yorker. Advertising, publicity, marketing — necessities in any writer's toolbox today — must cohabitate with the yearning to write. 

In the early '00's (sounds so strange, doesn't it?), I innately understood this, which is why I had used money earned from a PA Council on the Arts fellowship for literature to found, curate and publish an indie literary magazine called PHASE. We had a great run, published 50 Pennsylvania authors and countless photographers and graphic designers. The magazine sold out, every time, in a favorite (and Thank God still existing!) venue: The Midtown Cinema in Harrisburg. Appreciative readers had discovered this little literary gem, but not enough of them. After seven issues, I had to fold this labor of love which I am proud to say supported itself, every issue. A wobbly support, but we ended in the black. 

In that spirit, here are a few of my friends, some of whom are former students at the writing workshop I facilitate at the Fredricksen Library in Camp Hill, who have toiled, combed through every word, endured critques and revisions, and have published with small publishers. There's horror, romance, intrigue, fantasy among the selections, all well written and just waiting for their spines to be cracked, their words to find a home in your mind and your heart. 

Cate Masters :

Catherine Jordan:

Mike Silvestri:

Don Helin:

Madelyn Killion:

Jon Sprunk:

And, of course --

Ann Elia Stewart:

That should take you all the way to your upcoming beach reads. By then, I may have more for you. Thanks for your consideration!

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