My Heroes Have Always Been… Indie Authors

I was watching a documentary this past weekend about To Kill a Mocking Bird.  Harper Lee is of course from my home state of Alabama, but I didn’t realize she was living in New York at the time the book was published.  She was selling airline tickets, waitressing, and babysitting for a couple who were friends with her.

This couple believed in her book so much, they made her an incredible offer.  They told her they would cover her expenses for an entire year, so she could take off work and concentrate solely on this book project.  She accepted the offer and the rest is history.

I think I’ll try that.  The next friend who loves my book, I’ll say, “Great.  All I need is one year off work to make it perfect.  I do appreciate you believing in me this much.  Here’s a list of my monthly expenses.  The mortgage is due on the 1st, the car payment on the 15th, electric, gas, water, cable, internet, phone, cell phone, and Netflix are all due on different dates, so I’ll just give you those bills when they arrive.  I think you should go ahead and pay up a year of insurance on my car and home.  I’ll only eat out twice a week and I prefer Coke Zero to Diet Coke.  Again, thank you so much.”

Of course I wouldn’t really do that, not because my friends don’t believe in me, I just don’t have friends who can afford it.  I’ll just keep doing what I have been doing and squeezing in every spare minute to write between 12 hour days at work, regular home chores, and taking my wife to the mall as I sit on a bench wishing I was having a root canal instead of being at the mall.

Everyone knows how hectic everyday life has become in this modern age of two working parents, single parents, or working two jobs.  Writers don’t have the luxury of deciding they can stop everything else just to write.

I read an article recently that bothered me.  It was explaining why Indie books are not as good as traditionally published titles.  The reasons stated were because of lesser quality editing, proofreading, book cover designs, and distribution.  Thanks, genius.

When you consider that the Indie author did everything themselves, not just managing to squeeze out a book between life’s chaotic schedules, but also the editing, proofreading, cover design, and promotion, that is all the more reason to admire Indie authors, not trash them.

It reminds me of high school.  We didn’t have “early out” in those days so I went the full day.  I had football practice on Monday and Wednesday nights, football games on Friday night, math team practice on Tuesday and Thursday nights, math competitions on Saturdays, and worked full time on third shift in a hosiery mill in the valley.  I did everything my senior year except sleep.  But I saved up enough to buy my first car, a 1974 Monte Carlo.

So, when the rich kid pulled up beside me in his brand new Corvette that his dad had bought for him, it didn’t bother me at all.  I still knew my car was the coolest car on the planet.


Neal Wooten, Publisher/Indie Author/Illustrator/Cartoonist

Managing Editor; Mirror Publishing, Milwaukee, WI,
Author of Reternity,

Posted by on April 10, 2012. Filed under Books,Neal Wooten. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

33 Responses to My Heroes Have Always Been… Indie Authors

  1. Neal,

    You never stop amazing me. You’re right about the Indie authors having to do it all. The publishing world must be afraid of us since we do so much more than they do. Maybe someday, we’ll be the ones the publishing world admires. Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

  2. Donalisa Helsley

    April 10, 2012 at 6:41 am

    I didn’t know that tidbit about Harper Lee. That would be a dream come true for something like that to happen.

  3. Carol McLernon

    April 10, 2012 at 6:47 am

    I really enjoy your articles. How does one become an Indie author? Or how does one become a successful promotor of one’s own books?

  4. Victoria Williams-Fisher

    April 10, 2012 at 7:21 am

    I am sitting at my desk at my regular 40 hour-a- week job answering the phone, signing books and getting them into the mail while corresponding on Facebook with a bookstore in the Midwest (where I grew up) to schedule a book signing. My laptop waits silently beside my desk for me to steal a few moments from my lunch hour when I will write a few lines. Whew! Yes! I am an Indie Author and this is my life. And yes, I spend every free minute I have writing my next novel and every weekend promoting my newly released novel and you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing. Although sometimes it is overwhelming, when I read articles like yours I know I am not alone! Thanks for reminding me I’m not the only one going through this!

  5. Concetta Payne

    April 10, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Hi Neal,

    I never thought about being someone’s hero, but I do appreciate the compliment. On behalf of us Indie authors I thank you!

  6. corey colombin

    April 10, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Boy, are you singing to the choir, Neal! I work a full time job, write two monthly columns, along with feature articles, and toil away at my novel. I’m a wife and mother, with a house to take care of and meals to cook. Life is pretty hectic, to be sure. But, I write because I want to. I make time to write, sneaking it into my day (it helps that my husband is my “boss” in our family business, and he isn’t a tyrant). I do nearly all of my writing in between telephone calls, invoicing, and the daily business of running a business. My friends often ask, “when do you sleep?” I just thank God that I have the energy and enthusiasm to handle it all. The way I look at it is this: the “must dos” are the meat and potatoes of the day, but the writing is dessert.” Thanks for calling us all heroes, Neal. Don’t forget to look in the mirror when you’re making that list. :)

    Corey Colombin
    author of Confessions of a Coffee Slinger,
    author & illustrator of Eli Ate a Fly & Poor Me

  7. Theresa Singleton

    April 10, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Again, thanks Neal Wooten for the vote of confidence. Yes, we as independent artists have a huge load to carry; yet, we do it willingly. The pay off is not necessarily monetary. I’m blessed to be able to do what I do. Hats off to the many Indies!!!

  8. Rebecca Fronzaglio

    April 10, 2012 at 9:06 am

    You nailed it again. We are definately not just authors. Indie is exactly what we are and I’m very proud of it. We are independently talented. We take a thought, a dream, and turn it into a story. Noone thought it, dreampt it, wrote it, promoted it, and maybe even illustrated it. Sleep is something I sacrificed for many years doing it. There was never a 9 to 5 shift. There were two 9 to 5 shifts. With weary eyes and a nausiated stomach, I would still kneel in the chair by my living room window to see if it either snowed over night or suddenly gave way for spring. That was my only “Me” time. When my story was done, I could sleep again and dream of another one. We’re artists, each with a different calling. Our calling is to put thoughts to paper, paper to story, story to book, book to hand, eyes to book, words to thoughts, thoughts to learning, learning to memory. We are the middleman. Some of us write to educate. Some of us write to entertain. Some of us write because we’re dreamers and need to write so the thoughts can get out of our heads. If we’re very talented (and blessed) the memory will last and so will the sales. We’re like kites waiting for the perfect breeze, that will lift our words higher, and further, for all to see and forever be transformed.
    Then through word of mouth, we become the next big gossip. Whether good, whether bad,our story is told. Hero……I never thought of it that way. But
    as I watch the sunrise once again, I know my doorbell will be ringing soon. There is no time to sleep. They don’t know I was up all night. All they know is Grandma (that’s me) is the best babysitter and story teller ever, and she could never let them down. So I quickly brush my teeth, put on a little eyeliner, and pull my hair back. When they enter,I come alive. Their my coffee. I smile the biggest smile and then begins another story. Sleepy Grandma…our hero.

  9. Jodi Fiore, author of Lia-Ria Adventures

    April 10, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Neal, Thank you for that tid-bit of history about Harper Lee, she was most certainly a lucky girl!

    My sister kept a great quote taped to her bedroom mirror while she was busy earning a 4.0GPA in college.

    The quote read ‘Do what you HAVE to do today, so you can do what you WANT to do tomorrow.’

    As I work towards that goal of being a full time writer, I do my daily have-to-do jobs but try to add at least one thing I want-to-do with my writing.

    Each day I set out one little goal that I want to accomplish with my writing. The goals are very small and if I can add more time I am quite content! This daily goal keeps me from turning into a raving lunatic, disgruntled and bitter wanna-be writer – at least, for now!

    • Ellen Poppe

      April 11, 2012 at 6:50 am

      That is a great quote. I, too, have it displayed in my Library Media Center. It came from the movie “The Great Debaters”. Happy to hear others believe in it as well. ;-)

  10. You must be watching us. I wish it was easy also, I work, sometimes long hours. My wife is disabled. I didn’t expect to start mowing the lawn in March, which takes 3 hours. I had a tree that was going to fall on my house. I will be cutting plenty of wood this summer.
    When can I write or work on my website? Some days I sit at my computer with some time and nothing comes out. But,like most of us I get myself back together and write. No silver spoon here.

  11. Lonnie McKelvey

    April 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Great article. I wish someone would give me a year off-heck, I’d be happy with six months! :)

  12. Sandra Fishel Brandon

    April 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Very interesting insights, Neal. I do admire the indie authors. I’ve known several in the Christian book field that have written very helpful, inspiring books. I’m thankful the indie authors have the determination and belief in themselves to persevere. They enrich many lives.

  13. Dianna Skidmore

    April 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    It has been over a year since I lost my “real” job due to downsizing and after the shock wore off, I was left with what the heck do I do now with the rest of my life. Finding another “real” job has not happened and I’m really not surprised. Let’s face it, when you say you have 31 years of experience, employers can figure out your age and the interviews just don’t happen. My “real” job is what I did, for 31 years, it was not who I am. I

  14. Dianna Skidmore

    April 10, 2012 at 1:38 pm


    I am a writer and the Indie market is where (after years of frustration with traditional publishers, big house, etc.) I was published! Thank you Mirror Publishing! Yes, I have to do book signings, book readings and meet children who are so in awe of a real author coming to their schools. They could care less if I am an Indie author or not. And they are the reason I write children’s books. So, I am as happy as can be with finally fulfilling my passion to write, AND GET PUBLISHED!

    Dianna Skidmore, Children’s Book Author
    “Can You Be Like Me?”

  15. Sarah Mamika

    April 10, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Great article, Neal; and you’re right on the mark. Everything is appreciated more when it’s earned with labor and precious time. But, hey, if someone would like to foot the bills for me for a while I promise I’ll work hard and appreciate every minute!

  16. Cathy Cress Eller

    April 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Your words say it all! When you have a passion for your words that become stories, articles or books, that is truly a gift. I am proud to be an Indie writer because I don’t just write and hand it off, I get all down in my work and share it with the public. I have learned so much by “doing it myself.” So look at it as on the job training for when we hit it big (or not) because it is truly a ride of a life time! I’m so glad I’m the track with a man like Neal Wooten to lead the way!

  17. Jen Wallis

    April 10, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    I can totally relate to this article. People don’t really understand all the time that goes into writing and promoting a book. As a working mom of 2 preschoolers time is very hard to come by. I sure would love for someone to pay me to focus only on writing but since that’s not gonna happen I guess I will just stick to using my time management skills.

  18. Lisa Sarver

    April 10, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    Congratulations to all Indie authors who believed in themselves and found the time to see their stories come alive. And I applaud the patient husband who smiles lovingly when his mall time has expired.

  19. Maranda Russell

    April 11, 2012 at 6:43 am

    Being indie isn’t easy, but it does have some of its own rewards. For one thing, it is great to have more control over how your book will look and read in the end. I do think some indie authors don’t edit as well as they should, but it is a learning curve. That is why I’m glad to have people like you Neal to take a second look at my manuscript and help me see any mistakes I may have missed.

  20. Ellen Poppe

    April 11, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Great article, Neal. You are a hero to all of us for believing in us and accepting our manuscripts! As long as my basset hound keeps me laughing and my students keep asking for more, I’ll keep writing! I just love it! ;-)

  21. Barbara

    April 11, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Loved the humor… just wish it wasn’t all so true.

  22. Patty Silhacek

    April 11, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Thank you Neal for standing up for who and what you believe in. I want to get your book, how do I go about doing that? Patty p.s. Or did I just do that?

    • Neal Wooten

      April 11, 2012 at 11:04 am

      Hey Patty. Thanks. Both Reternity and my new release, My Brother My Judge, are availble through Amazon, B$, Kindle and Nook. I don’t have any My Brother My Judge in my possession yet, but plenty of Reternity if you want to order a signed copy directly from me – for less.. Let me know.

  23. Darcie Mae

    April 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Another great article. I love how you say so simply what people think privately. You are a brave soul to write what you do in your articles. They kind of have the attitude of like it or lump it. Keep up the good work. I love your articles.
    Darcie Mae
    Mirror Publishing Author (The Mother Mouse series for children)

  24. Laura Marlowe

    April 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    “…wishing I was having a root canal instead of being at the mall.”

    Thanks again for sprinkling trademark NW humor throughout your newest insightful article; I really enjoyed the entire read.

    Yes, it is a shame that many out there feel that indie-published works are not as worthy as those created and promoted by traditional/powerhouse publishing companies, but there are changes on the horizon…and ANYTHING is possible!

    On another note: I’ll bet that 1974 Monte Carlo truly was the coolest car on the planet :)

    Laura Marlowe, author of the children’s books Tommy the Throwaway Dog and Roo B. Dee and the Lazy Day

  25. Ellen May Frances Bolton

    April 17, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    As well as all which you mention, we ‘poor’ indie writers also must find a spare few thousand dollars for the cost of self-publishing. Having done that successfully I feel I can hold my head up beside people who have been published by regular means. I’m proud of every book I sell and feel the grey area between regular and indie authors is fast disappearing particularly when I get good feedback from strangers.

  26. Irma Jacobs Tirro Author of The Lonely Snowflake and It's Almost Friday

    April 18, 2012 at 4:44 am

    And I thought I had it bad when at the age of 9 I was picking strawberries in the muck of Dade County, Florida, and getting 10 cents for each container I filled! That job, and the others I had throughout junior and high school, laid the groundwork for writing children’s stories and sending them to Mirror Publishing. Even though I knew they would not win any awards, but they didn’t need to – it made me happy and that was sufficient.

  27. Herb Nordmeyer

    April 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    You and a number of the people who commented made my day. For over 65 years I have been told that I cannot write because I make mistakes (dyslexic) and do not have a degree in English or journalism. Even I know that Mockingbird is one word and no one pointed that little error out. I feel right at home.
    Herb Nordmeyer
    author of The Stucco Book-The Basics and Animals I Have Hated.

  28. Becca Mills

    April 26, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Sorry to be commenting on this so late: I only just discovered the Indie Times!

    You know, one way to think of the “indie” movement is that we are each of us in it all alone. As indie authors, for instance, we have to write the book, edit the book, proofread the book, format the book, design the cover, export the book to ebook files, upload the book, and then market the book. That is, everything the traditional publisher once did, we have to do ourselves.

    But another way to think of the movement is that indie authors can team up with other indie providers, forming networks in which individuals with specialized skills can help one another, making money together without the middle man (i.e., the big publishing company). For a few hundred bucks, an indie author can hire a professional editor to edit her manuscript; for a few hundred more, she can hire a graphic designer to make a terrific cover. And so forth.

    For most authors, this kind of “indie networking” would create a much stronger product. That, in turn, would help loosen the stigma the public has against indie books, which would encourage more readers to give indie books a try, benefiting everyone (including readers themselves, since indies are so much cheaper). Plus, it’s sort of nice to realize that “indie” doesn’t necessarily mean “all alone,” eh?

  29. Lenore Lang

    April 28, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Thanks for your personal insights on writing — and working while doing so! Shows that there’s a fire burning inside, and that fire can warm a lot of hearts. You do well. Thanks for being you.

  30. Sharon Farmer

    June 11, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    I am cherishing my vacation time on the internet in the motel lobby while my husband watches our three grandchildren. Learning more and more about Neal Wooten is a real treat! He is a man to be trusted, always patient and happy to explain and teach me things I always dreamed of learning. I have learned more from him than I did from the school administrators to whom I was school secretary! Yes, a lot of us new self-published authors wait until retirement to make some dreams come true, as most of us do not have the time to try to seek out and be “discovered” by the big publishing companies. In the eyes of the people who read my book SIGHTS I SEE WITH MY DESERT LEMON TREE, I am an author! I have had many, many requests to write another book but do not have the resources. I spend money on books for my grandkids to read, and I even have sent my 4-year old grandson a “Book of the Month from Grandma Sherry’s Book Club” ever since his birth. I AM A GREAT CRITIC! Hats off to you Neal!

  31. Delsie Bachtell

    June 20, 2012 at 5:34 am

    We loved your website so much we added it to Just fill in the offer and your backlink is permanent.

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