Twenty years ago, the publishing industry looked vastly different. Indie Author Day was a distant dream. Online retailers like Amazon, where users could easily upload and publish a book, hadn’t grown into the titans they are today. Nor was there such a plethora of businesses focused on indie author success to help authors copyedit, design, and promote their work.
But with the rise of these businesses, self-publishing has taken hold. From 2008 to 2018, the number of self-published books in a year grew from approximately 85,000 books to over 1.6 million.
Because of this, the ways libraries include books on their shelves is changing, and indie authors are seeking more recognition for their work.
No longer is self-publishing seen as something to do for a small passion project or a last resort when your writing is too bad to be “really” published.
Traditional publishing takes a long time and a lot of resources, and it often locks out voices that are deemed unprofitable—further marginalizing already marginalized authors. That’s why events like Indie Author Day have been created and why they’re so important.
It’s is an outgrowth of the Indie Author Project, an organization that aims to connect indie authors with libraries. Let’s take a dive into what this event is, when it’s held, and how to get involved.
This is a planned event where libraries host indie authors for a day of networking and education. It’s not just for published authors, though. Readers and unpublished writers are welcome to join the events, where they can learn more about the indie publishing industry and meet their favorite indie authors.
In 2021, for instance, the event was scheduled for November 12–13. On November 12, the official organization would announce the 2021 Indie Author Project contest winners. These contests recognize the best indie titles in each participating region across the nation.
November 13 would feature live author panels throughout the day.
When Indie Author Day first launched in 2016, it reached hundreds of libraries across the United States and Canada. Its goal was to bring together independent authors, readers, and libraries to promote the presence of indie authors within the local community.
Indie Author Day events feature open mics, Q&A panels with authors and professionals in publishing, writing workshops, educational presentations, and networking opportunities.
Even if the official date is November 12–13, the fun doesn’t have to end there. The organization’s website invites libraries to host events at any time of year and offers promotional resources online.
Different libraries have seen different amounts of public interest, but Indie Author Day has generally been successful—especially when it comes to networking among indie authors. On several occasions, authors who met at an Indie Author Day event later went on to form writing groups.
The official website is your go-to resource for everything about the event. If your local library, bookstore, or another organization is hosting an Indie Author Day in your area, check their website and social media too.
There are a few ways to prepare for Indie Author Day to get the most out of the event. Authors can fill out a form on the Indie Author Day website to signal their interest. If there are any nearby participating libraries, the Indie Author Day organization will pass that information along. Filling out the form also signs you up for a newsletter to stay updated on local events.
Once you’ve committed to an event, promote it on social media. As with any other marketing ideas, promotion is important. That may look like sending out a newsletter to your readers or downloading a graphic from the official website to post on Instagram, for example.
Readers can follow along with their favorite authors online or subscribe to a library newsletter.
Event length varies from branch to branch, but typically things start in the midmorning or early afternoon and wrap up by the early evening.
This schedule example from Old Bridge Public Library in New Jersey started the festivities at 11:00 a.m. with an Author Alley. Meanwhile, the last scheduled event, a virtual panel and Q&A for authors, was held at 2:00 p.m.
Indie Author Day is free and open to the public, though registration is required. Anyone with an interest in indie books can come, including the following:
With the pandemic raging in 2020, 72 libraries and other organizations out of 120 total hosted virtual programs. In 2021, many libraries returned to in-person gatherings. However, the pandemic showed that a virtual event can be successful, and some libraries stayed digital for 2021’s Indie Author Day.
Zoom meetings like this one from the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library included presentations and Q&A panels. The library sent everyone who registered a Zoom link through email.
Though authors might not be able to network in person, the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library compiled a directory of indie authors to be distributed to everyone who registered for Indie Author Day.
Additionally, Indie Author Day will feature a mix of award-winning authors and those just starting out.
The recipient of 2019’s Indie Author of the Year award, Ran Walker, has made several appearances with Indie Author Project events. In 2020, he joined the Fairfax County Public Library for a virtual Indie Author Day.
And 2020’s Indie Author of the Year, dystopian novelist Jacqui Castle, joined the Indie Author Project for the announcement of the 2021 Indie Author of the Year award.
Another collaborator with the Indie Author Project is Cody Sisco, a community organizer and writer of speculative fiction. Sisco cofounded the writing group Made in L. A. after meeting other writers at an event in 2016.
The best way to find new indie authors is to go to a scheduled event. In the meantime, research participating authors through social media, and sign up for library and author newsletters. Also, library branches will post itineraries, often listing indie authors who will make an appearance.
For authors, you can build your platform by meeting other authors and readers. Furthermore, for libraries, the event helps spur local interest and brings people together. Want to get involved? Here are some tips.
Advertise on your library website, on social media, and through your local newspaper. Get the word out in advance—the earlier, the better.
Consider obtaining print copies of indie books and have them on a display, ready to be checked out of the library.
Finally, check out this overview of tips for planning and promoting the event from the official website.
Fill out the form on the Indie Author Day website to signal your interest. Then, contact your local library or bookstore to see if they’re doing Indie Author Day. If not, there’s an opportunity to propose the event.
And if you’re pitching Indie Author Day to your library, it’s best to be prepared and show public interest. Consider forming a local indie author group to bring the idea to the table.
The Indie Author Day website offers video resources from past Indie Author Day participants and organizations, including the following:
In addition, the website features an e-book from Elite Authors (hi, that’s us!) with a comprehensive overview on the road to self-publishing.
These educational resources cover a range of topics, such as developing characters, designing a cover, and forming a book marketing plan.
Indie publishing is flourishing. Why not flourish with it?
Through Elite, you can edit, design, format, and market your book to match your vision perfectly. Gone are the days of endless query letters and two-year publishing schedules.
Tell us about your book. Let’s talk about how we can help you with anything you need. Who knows? Maybe next year you’ll be promoting your work at an Indie Author Day!