The Indie Author Manifesto, by Mark Coker

We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident!  (Howard Chandler Christy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident! (Howard Chandler Christy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

I love this guy!

Mark Coker.

Creator of Smashwords.

I met him at a writer’s conference a couple years ago, drove him to the airport with a carload of other VIPs. This guy is so cool, so down to earth, so frigging real. He isn’t afraid to stand up to the icons of the publishing industry and call “Foul!” Dazzle them with the facts.

From his current post, I have lifted what he is calling, his Indie Author Manifesto.

Rock on, Mark Coker!


We indie authors believe all writers are created equal, that all writers are endowed with natural creative potential, and that writers have an unalienable right to exercise, explore and realize their potential through the freedom of publication.

I hold these truths to be self-evident:

  1. I am an indie author
  2. I have experienced the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from self-publishing
  3. I have a right to publish
  4. My creative control is important to me.  I decide when, where and how my writing graduates to become a published book.
  5. Indie does not mean “alone.”  I choose my partners.
  6. I shall not bow beholden or subservient to any publisher. In my business relationships, I seek partnership, fairness, equity and mutually aligned interests.
  7. We indie author comprise diverse writers unified by a common purpose to advance, empower and celebrate writers everywhere.
  8. I am a professional.  I take pride in my work, and I strive to improve my craft to better serve my readers, myself, my fellow indie authors and the culture of books
  9. My writing is valuable and important.  This value and importance cannot be measured by commercial sales alone.
  10. I celebrate the success of my fellow indie authors, for their success is mine, and mine theirs. Together we are pioneering a better future for books marked by greater quality, creativity, diversity, choice, availability, affordability and accessibility.

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2 Responses to “The Indie Author Manifesto, by Mark Coker”

  1. 1 jpon April 24, 2014 at 6:17 am

    Frank, I usually agree with your commitment to promoting writers, but in this case I can’t. Coker’s manifesto is merely a sales pitch masquerading as “empowerment” of the masses. I can’t help reading Coker’s vested interest into each of these points. Do remember, every writer who decides to publish on Smashwords potentially increases Coker’s income, so of course he’s going to give us the rah rah speech.

    But underlying this apparent celebration of the indie author is the fallacy of “what is possible” versus “what is probable.” It’s a propaganda technique employed by politicians and sales people throughout history.

    What’s possible is that a few authors will write and publish great books that would have been overlooked by mainstream publishers, and will have some sales success. In almost all cases these are authors who already have a following from the traditional publishing world.

    But what’s probable is that thousands upon thousands of hopeful writers will pen woefully bad, barely edited books, maybe do some marketing, and wait for the recognition and the money to roll in, thanks to Coker’s outlet. But it won’t happen.

    Coker makes it sound like writing and publishing books is as easy as learning to drive—anyone can do it! But if he really wants to help indie writers, he should tell them what so many of them really need to hear, that worthwhile writing and (maybe) success comes after years of dedicated effort to learn craft. It comes with developing a network of similarly motivated writers who are committed to helping each other improve. It comes with intense independent study of great writing. And it comes with working in concert with experienced editors and beta readers. But if he said any of that, it might cause some people to delay publishing, or not publish at all, and that would hurt his bottom line.

    Yes, there are some indie writers (like yourself) who understand that, and for them, indie publishing may hold some rewards. But for so many others, Coker’s manifesto does a huge disservice.

    • 2 fpdorchak April 24, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      Well, Joe, it’s always a pleasure discoursing with you! You do bring out other points of view I may not have considered! I have been told, on more than one occasion, that I tend to be an optimist…one who believes in more of the basic good of people than most. :-]

      I cannot speak to what may or what may not be in a person’s heart of hearts, but I can speak to a person’s actions. I’ve met and talked with Mark; seen him in action against traditional agents and publishers. Experienced what appears to be his passion to help authors and in one-on-one conversation. Sure, he’s got money to be made from his company, just like I have money to be made from selling my work…but I happen to believe in Mark’s actions, and he definitely has shown a caring, deep and abiding concerned understanding of the author’s plight. Until he behaves otherwise, I choose to believe he means well.

      Whether or not his manifesto may or may not appear trite or a sales pitch, I do believe in the words. I believe in fairness, teamwork, and not being treated as subservient, et cetera.

      As to the rest of the poorly edited books and whether or not it’s easy to write…well, I really don’t see that as a huge problem. Again, perhaps it’s the optimist in me, but there will always be bad stuff out there, traditional or otherwise, and, yes, it may make it “harder” (in one sense) to find the good stuff because of that, but I’m also a heavily metaphysical dude, and feel that the best will happen to those of good intentions…that it’s not only about selling zillions of books for ga-zillions of dough that defines success. Success is defined to each individual by that individual. Being “found” is a metaphysical thing for me. If it’s meant to happen, it will happen. Otherwise I’m damned happy with the work I’ve put out there, that those who are reading it are enjoying it. Perhaps I’m mellowing in my old[er] age, but I don’t really want to be “famous.” I’d love to make money off it, sure, but being famous isn’t the goal. WRITING is the goal, and WRITING I am doing. Getting it out there. All else is gravy. To be written beckons to be read, one the one hand, but on a metaphysical level…I don’t know that I can even say reading of my work is necessary to the WRITING of it. Isn’t that fascinating? It’s the act that’s important. That there’s tons of dreck out there is white noise to me. My work will be found and read by those who need it. I focus on my goals and not that there’s poor writing out there. There will always be poor writing out there, and those writers have their own journeys, but Mark has created a way for myself and others like myself to get our passions out there. And since I’ve actually met and interacted with the man, I believe the best in him, until shown otherwise.

      It doesn’t matter that others may think writing is easy…what matters is that I am WRITING.

      What matters is that I am learning my craft and and art and doing the very damned best I can do.

      What matters is that I am performing “value fulfillment” to what appears a very important aspect of my existence.

      What matters is there there are others out there doing the same thing…poor writers and writing be damned.

      Let’s keep doing that, Joe! :-]

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