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  • Sue Hawley

6 Degrees of Separation and your new favorite book

Indie authors are an interesting group of folks. Various backgrounds, interests,

and life experiences make up the Indie population. Most of us didn’t major in English during college but that hasn’t held us back from doing what we have come to love, which is writing. After years of life consumed with careers, raising kids, and general survival of the sinkholes life throws at us, sometimes we need to reinvent ourselves. Maybe a better way to phrase it is simply rediscovering who we really are deep inside. Writing allows us to spread our wings in new directions many of us never considered.

One aspect of the Indie author life is the urge to be linked with like-minded people. Rather than associating through politics, religion, or hobbies we have one major item in common: the need to write, and write well. Groups allow us to share our work for analysis, opinions, and suggestions. I’ve been a mystery reader since my teen years, along with a spattering of science fantasy along the way, but seldom ventured far into other genres. Through my association with other Indie writers I’ve stretched my horizons into young adult books, autobiographies, and science fiction.

Independent authors rely on word of mouth and streams of interest as opposed to the major rivers more traditionally published authors swim in. Through an online author group I’ve met authors from around the country. Janice Rials wrote "There is no Moon at my House" about her experiences as an elementary school teacher. I loved it and have given it as baby shower gifts numerous times. L.M. Mann writes picture books for children and fantasy fiction for young adults. Her books are charming and my grandchildren have found great enjoyment in them. Natli Vanderwerken is an author my daughter knows from her writing group (this writing thing must be genetic). Natli came to know my books through my daughter and I have come to know of hers as well via the same channel. Her books, geared towards older children and lovers of dragons, will be fantastic gifts to grandkids. CJ Peterson, another link in the indie author chain, writes Christian fiction novels that have a huge following. And my own personal favorite genre, murder mysteries, are written by my friend Russell Little.

Last summer the first book of the Peg Shaw series won an award in Texas. Along the beautiful River Walk in San Antonio I had the privilege of meeting quite a few new Indie authors and I learned so much in a few short days. Melineh Petrosian made a huge impression on me, and her book, Cry For Rain: A Memoir was a hidden treasure to find. I would have never picked up a book about a young woman's childhood in Iran during a violent regime change if I hadn’t met Melineh and heard her tell her story. I'm so glad I did.

Those are just the authors I have met personally or have "6 degrees of separation" from via the network of indie authors. The number of independently published writers I've connected with through social media, especially Twitter, is astounding. If you're on that social platform (or any of them) search hashtags such as #indieauthor, #selfpub, #amwriting and similar. This is the crowd that has given me so much support and encouragement as I've taken a chance and reinvented myself from a wife and mother into a published author.

Most of the writers I’ve mentioned have either won awards for their work or have been Amazon best sellers—some have done both! My life has been enriched by knowing these people and reading their work. Indie authors have so much to offer to readers but we face obstacles- such as readers finding us. We often have limited budgets or are in the process of learning how to market our work. So take a moment, take a chance, and do a search for an unknown author—you just may find yourself entering a world you never would have discovered otherwise. We'll be happy to see you there.

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