Independent artists, that is.
Have you ever wondered what the easiest way to support your favorite indie artist is? Whether they are an author, a musician, artist, or whatever? Obviously, BUYING their work from a non-pirated location, is a logical answer, but I’d wager there is something just as important as the financial piece (but please do keep buying their work because artists need to eat to keep making the art. Vicious cycle.) So, just what is that thing you can do to help support your favorite artist? Provide them with validation.
Let me explain what I mean. If you have ever devoured a book by an indie author or jammed out to an awesome song from a local band or gazed in awe at a piece of art by a virtual ‘unknown,’ the easiest thing you can do to support that artist (apart from BUYING their work) is to TELL THEM how much you liked their art.
You mean you want me to stroke their egos? Well, it’s more than that. Artists, by nature, tend to be a quiet group. We work mostly in solitude with just the creative juices running through our heads. We work in a bubble of ourselves with limited input from the outside world. Which provides ample opportunity for doubt to grow. We second-guess. We berate our work. We feel like failures. We’re raw nerves exposed to the elements when we put something new out for consumption. And a balm that can soothe all of those things? When you validate our work by telling us how it touched you, moved you, or inspired you. It tells us that the time we spent making the art MATTERED. That what we worked so hard at creating reached its audience.
Your validation confirms that our vision was seen, felt, absorbed.
And here’s the best part. That validation motivates us to keep making more art. Even if those sales don’t come in. Even if we struggle to find the motivation to work on the next project. It’s that VALIDATION from those few who made the effort to reach out and let the artist know that their art MATTERS that pushes us to keep going in the face of doubt. And trust me, there is plenty of that to go around.
For instance, fresh off the heels of what was a very successful release of Girl on Fire last month, I was feeling a bit low. Even with the title hitting a #1 New Release and becoming a Best Seller for its category (far outperforming any of my other 15 titles) I felt as though I’d failed somehow. In October, my numbers started to drop off, as sales tend to after a release. Suddenly, the success of the month prior didn’t seem to matter. All I could see was that the numbers were going downward. Just like my head space. Not a good for a creative.
Then, I went to a local shop in my hometown for an author signing. I was there with two other Maine authors. They both write Maine historical fiction, and here I was, the odd duck in the corner of a coastal shop with romance books. We couldn’t have been more opposite. Surely no one would even glance my way. Impostor syndrome was setting in hard.
Ironically, we all sold equally well that day. Some readers were looking for historical fiction, others, were drawn in by my unique covers. But the best part of that afternoon was spending two hours chatting with Irene M. Drago, Kate Hotchkiss. We talked about writing, our marketing strategies, our books, and about publishing in general. There was great comfort in knowing you aren’t alone writing into a void. That others are there too. That the doubt and the stresses you face are the same for us all.
Kate and I ended up exchanged paperbacks at the end of the event. Her book (On Harbor’s Edge) is on the top of my very much neglected TBR pile. I really need to stop telling myself I will have energy to read at night and won’t fall asleep the second I get into bed.
To my great delight, Kate messaged me late last night to tell me she’d started and finished Girl on Fire. I held my breath. If you’ve read the book, then you know how this book can be triggering. Would my writing be too out there for this historical fiction writer? Would she be appalled at what she’d read? For the record, the most terrifying thing you can say to an author is “So, I read your book.” GULP.
Fortunately, Kate loved it. She thought it would make an excellent movie (a thought echoed by my publishing house. Hint, hint, universe.) She even suggested Brad Pitt should play Brad. I had a good laugh at that one. Not sure he’d take on playing such a twisted character. In fact, I would pity any actor who accepted the role of Brad. It would NOT be an easy part to play. Then again, speaking as an actor myself, those are the roles we love to sink our teeth into. The ones most unlike ourselves.
To make a long story short (too late,) Kate’s gesture of reaching out to tell me that not only had she read the book, but that she had loved it was just the thing I needed to hear to get me out of that headspace of self-doubt. That worry all creatives face: Does anyone even care about the work I put out?
Yesterday, I got that affirmation. Which means today, when I sit down to write, I am writing with the knowledge that YES, my work matters. Yes, readers appreciate the craft I provide. YES, I need to write more. Validation matters to creatives.
But, Danielle, how am I supposed to contact them if I don’t know them?
- A quick Google search will likely find you at least one avenue to find your favorite indie artist. Then, reach out via email, social media, heck even snail mail can work. (Here’s where you can reach me: CONTACT ME)
- If a direct contact approach isn’t for you, simply mention the work that moved you in a post on whatever social media you are on. Gush to your friends about how their art hit you. Lend them the book, encourage them listen to the song, or show them the art. Connect the world to the art that you love. That word of mouth is something an artist can’t generate on their own, and it really is liquid gold.
- For indie books, an easy way to validate work is to leave a review, because let’s face it, we ALL look to see how many reviews something has before we buy something. Especially if it is from an unknown. And trust me, the authors read those reviews. They help let us know if we’re on the right track or not. It’s part of our homework. Even reading the bad ones.
If you love the art, tell someone. It’s as easy as that. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m suddenly motivated to go Write All the Words, Danielle