If you’ve ever bypassed a big-budget movie to view a lesser-known independent film, or favored the music of an indie artist over a mainstream musician, then consider giving indie books a try.
Discovering a great book published outside of the traditional channels of publishing can be more challenging—and more rewarding—than sticking to the mainstream.
On one hand, within the indie book market there is little quality control—no publisher to diligently weed out poorly written works. But on the other hand, the indie market is full of exciting new voices, plots, characters, and hidden gems that are often overlooked by publishers because they do not conform to an editor’s view of what the public wants.
Two such literary gems were created here in Westchester County.
Ron Dionne, 52, of Chappaqua describes his indie novel, SAD JINGO, as a modern noir set in the New York City jazz scene of the 1990s. The main character, Jingo Dalhousie is a piano player whose talent will never live up to his dreams of grandeur. Jingo is working as a janitor in his cousin’s Greenwich Village night club when he discovers a blockbuster novel featuring a character with his own unusual name.
Believing that it can’t be mere coincidence, Jingo becomes obsessed with the idea that if he can only meet the author, and play for her, then maybe he’ll be able to finally free the music trapped inside his head. But unknown to Jingo, the author has a secret of her own that she is desperate to protect.
When Dionne penned SAD JINGO in the 90s, he landed a literary agent, but was never able to win a book contract. “We were told again and again that the book was too literary for a suspense or crime list, and too suspense-y to be sold as strictly literary. Somewhere in between—meaning of limited commercial potential. Decidedly mid-list, to be sure.”
Dionne said his book was almost sold to HarperCollins. The late Larry Ashmead on the hardcover side wanted to buy it. “The publishing house at that time had a strict hard/soft policy in place (meaning they only wished to publish in hardcover books that they also would want to reprint in paper later). Unfortunately for me, no one on the softcover side at HarperCollins liked SAD JINGO as much as Mr. Ashmead did.”
Lucky for us, Dionne made the decision to self-publish in 2012. Today SAD JINGO is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble (online), Kobobooks, and the iBookstore through iTunes.
Mel Parish of Scarsdale said her fast-paced page turner, Silent Lies, grew out of a 'what-if' scenario—what-if a guy was withholding information from the police. But when I started writing it I had no idea what that information was or where it would lead,” she admitted.
In Silent Lies, Cal Miller adamantly believes that an investigation into the whereabouts of his young assistant, Katy Shore, is a waste of time. His decision to withhold information that could get him into trouble is an easy one considering he has his reputation as a newcomer to protect and his wife’s good graces to consider. A couple of days and he’ll be in the clear, or so he thinks, until he discovers Katy’s deceptions far outweigh his own.
With detectives deaf to his claims that no crime has been committed and townspeople out for revenge, Cal’s responses to the developing scandal merely aggravate the situation and lead even his family to wonder whether his secrets are darker and his past more blemished than he is willing to admit.
Parish, 55, said that although she received initial interest from a few publishers, no book contract materialized. Self-publishing gave Parish the freedom to re-focus her efforts on writing instead of finding a home for Silent Lies.
“To be honest, I was more interested in writing another novel than the querying process,” she said, “by the time I had written two more manuscripts, e-books were offering a viable alternative to publication so it seemed sensible to give it a try. It was quite an endeavor getting the book ready.
(for more on her journey).
Today Silent Lies is available in paperback at in Pleasantville, and on e-book at Amazon and Barnesandnobles.com.
Keep an eye out for Parish's up and coming indie books, Ulterior Motives and The Anniversary, which she hopes to publish over the course of the next year.