Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do
By Merry Farmer
I, Merry Farmer, am an indie author. And I’m proud of it, too. I was never really interested in taking a path to publication that went through the traditional publishing industry. Sure, it had and still has its advantages, but after a few half-hearted attempts to toe the party line, I knew it wasn’t for me. The feedback I was repeatedly given was that I was a great writer, my plots were interesting and my characters had dimension, but my stories wouldn’t sell. No one was buying medieval or western historicals. It couldn’t be done.
That was when my purpose as a writer was born. The refrain that has become my battle cry and the heart of everything I write is, “Don’t tell me what I can’t do.” Nothing pushes a creative mind harder than being told that something can’t be done. I’m convinced that that is at least half of what has fueled the indie revolution, and I know that that’s what keeps me writing the books that I love instead of chasing the latest trend.
When I first started publishing in 2011, the indie revolution was near its beginning. There was a lot of skepticism from high and low about the quality of the books that those crazy rogue writers would dare to publish. What ended up happening, though, is that without the fear of huge financial loss, writers like me were able to experiment with story and setting, with character and themes. Slowly but surely, new voices began to be heard amongst the tried and true staples of every genre.
I write historical romance, and while I love a good Regency era story, complete with dukes and dances, I always wanted to hear more about other eras of history and the richness of the lives of men and women who didn’t have title or money. I love a story full of tight historical accuracy, but I wanted to see what would happen if I wrote a tale with a modern twist set hundreds of years ago. When I published my first novel, THE LOYAL HEART, which is intended to feel more like the movie A Knight’s Tale than THE CANTERBURY TALES, I held my breath, eager to see how it would be received. I was told people would pan it, that it didn’t fit within the confines of the medieval romance genre.
You know what? People loved it! It turns out that there is a place for an adventure-packed romp in the world of traditional chivalry. So I decided to play with ideas and experiment with themes again with my Montana Romance series. I was told historical westerns weren’t selling anymore and that the late 1890s was far too late in the 19th century to appeal to the historical romance crowd. And what was I thinking, including an m/m romance in the middle of a conventional m/f series?
Don’t tell me what I can’t do. The beauty of indie publishing is that it has allowed me to try out ideas that a larger publishing house isn’t prepared to take a risk on. I can’t say I blame them for not taking that risk either, but just because they aren’t prepared to put a chunk of cash behind an untried concept no longer means that that concept will wither. There are books being published now that can open whole new worlds to readers. The sky’s the limit now when it comes to creativity and experimentation. We truly are living in the Age of the Author now.
My next experiment? Publishing in a different genre with the same name, Merry Farmer. I have a sci-fi series, GRACE’S MOON, coming in July. They say you can’t publish different genres under the same name. They say your readers won’t follow you, that you’ll have to start the discoverability struggle all over again.
Three guesses what I say to that.
You can find Merry’s eBooks on Kobo through the links below: