Today I would like to welcome Darby Harn to my blog’s Indie Spotlight feature.
Darby Harn is a contributor for Screenrant, CBR.com, The Things, Star Wars News Net, and Movie News Net. His sci-fi superhero novel EVER THE HERO debuted in January 2020. His short fiction appears in Strange Horizons, Interzone, Shimmer, and other venues.
Contact him here:
Hello Darby, welcome to my blog.
What made you decide to publish your books independently?
I had a terrible experience with my first novel, The Book of Elizabeth. I sold it to a publisher in 2007 and it was supposed to come out early 2009. It was 2011 before I realized that they had no intention of publishing it, explaining why, or answering very basic and necessary questions as to the status of my novel. That was debilitating not just for my career but my writing, which ground to a halt in the uncertainty of what happened. I never wanted to experience that again so going the independent route was always an option. I did try to find a traditional agent and publisher for Ever The Hero. I received a lot of requests for fulls but I never got over the hump. I didn’t want to simply abandon the book, so following the example of friends and colleagues who had published indie and well, I followed suit.
What are the benefits of being an indie author?
The biggest benefit is that it’s simply your work. You’re in complete control of the process. It’s honest, exposed, and undeniably you. Expressing your art without any filters is an ecstatic process. it’s also a terrifying one. Your book is only as good as you are. Depending on your ambition, the quality may not matter. It’s really the only thing that matters to me, so you find out in a hurry whether or not this thing you worked on for three years and then just left on the doorstep of the world is any good or not.
Because it’s so democratic, in the way other mediums have been for most of their history, you at least have a shot. If you can’t find an avenue in traditional publishing for whatever reason, it’s not the end of the road. John Kennedy O’Toole ended his life in apparent despair over not finding a publisher for A Confederacy of Dunces. One would hope that wouldn’t happen today.
That would be tragic. It’s fantastic that self publishing is such a readily available option these days, if you are prepared to figure out all of the challenges and overcome them.
What specific challenges do you think indie authors face?
You are completely on your own. I’m very lucky in that I have a group of friends and colleagues who provide feedback edits and in the case of Al Hess, these gorgeous covers that are invaluable. What I don’t have is the infrastructure of marketing or publicity that comes, in some cases, with traditional publishing. You have to engineer everything on your own. Reviews are impossible to get. Advertising is expensive. It’s extremely unlikely you will succeed in any way you expect to. You have to define success for yourself. There is a lot of advice out there for indie authors on how to get sales and reviews and readers. Mostly it’s a prescription for a certain kind of success, but not any kind of writing. If you only have a theory for sales and not writing, you’ll fail.
What advice would you give to any aspiring indie authors who might be reading this?
You have to do it with industrial patience and a kind of absurd lack of fear. As Carrie Fisher said, “Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”
What have you learned from being an indie author?
You’re sort of banging a pot on a street corner for a cause no one understands. But all great rebels in art started the same way. Independence in art is a proud tradition in all mediums. Working outside of a system is lonely, uncertain, and statistically doomed to failure, but if you’re honest with your art, your art will be honest. And honesty always finds an audience. You can’t assume that will be millions of people. It might just be one. But again, you have to define your own success.
That is a useful lesson to have learned.
And now on to the final question. What can we look forward to seeing from you in 2021?
I plan to publish the third book in the Eververse series at some point next year. I’ve hit a roadblock so not sure on the exact timing. Depending on how things go, I may publish another novel. I have a short story appearing in early January in The Coffin Bell.
Well thank you very much for taking part in this feature, Darby. I wish you every success with your upcoming projects and of course with the sales of your existing published books.
Ever The Hero
Superheroes are big business. Imagine not being able to afford them.
Kit Baldwin just wants to make rent. The only work she can find in the ruins of her devastated city is scavenging for alien technology. When she finds a powerful alien weapon, her discovery pays off more than she could have hoped: it draws the attention of the most powerful of the superhuman Empowered, Valene.
Valene hears everything, everywhere. She suffers for it, and as they begin a precipitous romance, Kit believes she can use the weapon she’s scavenged to mitigate Valene’s pain. If she can’t, Valene will retreat to the soundlessness of space. Without Valene’s compassion, the stricken city is left to the mercy of Valene’s ruthless father, who denies the assistance the city needs unless it can pay for it.
As Valene’s condition worsens, Kit becomes more desperate and unleashes the full power of the alien weapon. In an instant, she is transformed into a being of cosmic power. She can acquire the knowledge and energy of anything – or anyone – she touches.
Buy Ever The Hero here:
Add Ever the Hero to you To Be Read list here:
The Judgement of Valene
The Eververse continues in the second book in a series that’s been called ‘the next logical step after Watchmen.’
Valene hears everything in the world. Except for her killer coming.
For the first time in her life, Valene Blackwood has peace. She’s been aboard her own private space station for a year, removed from the sonic duress of the world that she suffers due to her superhuman ability to hear everything, everywhere. When her father dies, she must return and take over the family business – selling superhuman protection for profit.
With her father gone, challengers emerge for control of Great Power. Valene is young, unproven, and wanting only to go back to her sanctuary in the sky. She struggles to stay focused, knowing the future of the company is at stake. The future of the Empowered. Before she has a chance to get her feet on the ground, someone tries to kill her.
Advanced technology nearly rips Valene right out of her own skin. Technology only one person in the world could have invented: the woman she left behind by going up to the space station. Kit Baldwin. But Kit is a hero. Is someone setting her up? Is someone trying to ruin them both?
Valene sets out to find the truth, and for the first time in her life, she has to listen. She has to stay in the world. She has to be the hero she never wanted to be.
If she can survive.
Buy The Judgement of Valene here:
Add The Judgement of Valene to your To Be Read list here:
Who is next on Indie Spotlight?
Alyson Sheldrake will be joining me next week. She is an independent author of memoirs about her life in The Algarve, Portugal in addition to being a professional artist, and will be showcasing some of her paintings in addition to her books. Make sure you come back and join us!