Indie writers are pioneering a new era in publishing.

I’m the indie writer and producer of the Ambrose Lincoln noir thriller series, and I’m proud of it.

It’s time indie writers quit apologizing and feeling sorry for themselves. The publishing future is in the hands of the indies.

So you’re an indie writer.

What’s wrong with that?

So you don’t have an agent?

What’s wrong with that?

So you don’t have a big-time New York publisher.

What’s wrong with that?


Absolutely nothing.

However, it seems that so many writers, through conversations or blogs, want to apologize for being an indie.  They are ashamed they don’t have an agent. They are embarrassed and feel like a second-class writer, maybe even third class, because they don’t have a high-dollar or even a low-dollar New York publishing deal.

They cling to the past. But the past is past. Their brain is aware that digital publishing is rapidly replacing traditional publishing, but their heart still wants an agent and a publisher.

In my opinion, the past was never as good for writers as we all think it was. It’s easy to think, “Well, my book is on Amazon. But will anybody find me?” In the old days, authors said, “Well, my book in the bookstore. Will anybody find me?”

Same deal.

There is only one difference. Books got lost amidst brick and mortar instead of inside cyberspace.

Novelists are in the entertainment business. So, for a moment, let’s take a look at the movies, which is usually what you do at the movies.

Two or three decades ago, there were a bunch of hotshot screenwriters and directors running loose in Hollywood. They had their fingers on the pulse of theatergoers simply because they spent a lot of time in the movie houses.

They had to.  Big studio executives wouldn’t give them the time of day.

Sound familiar? New York publishers certainly don’t give unknowns the time of day.

Did the independent screenwriters and directors feel rejected?


Did they quit?


Instead of feeling ashamed and apologizing because they did not have a big studio deal, they said, in so many words: “We don’t need the studios. The guys who run them are old and stodgy and out of touch.

“They may have clout.

“They may have the money.

“But we have the best ideas.

“We’re better than they are.”

Tobe Hooper, left, directing a scene from Texas Chainsaw Massacre

A good friend of mine, Tobe Hooper, shopped a little horror film named Leatherface around, but no one was interested. No studio would touch a horror film unless, of course, Alfred Hitchcock was at the controls.

Tobe decided to do it himself. He made the independent film for less than $100,000, cast a bunch of unknowns, changed its name to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and grossed almost $50 million, which was a lot of money for a film, big or small, back in 1974.

Across the country, the indie directors went to work. Tobe found a crack in the door. The indies kicked it open.

And here came the raw, unbridled genius of Quentin Tarantino, Richard Linklater, John Carpenter, Robert Altman, David Lynch, John Cassavetes, the Coen brothers, John Sayles, and Woody Allen.

They didn’t need the studio.

They didn’t want the studio.

They could write and direct movies without anyone looking over their shoulder to tell them: “Sorry, you’ll have to change the script, the lighting, the direction. And, for God’s sake, don’t experiment.”

The indie directors loved to experiment. It made their moves different and compelling. And many of the films were sold virtually door to door, movie house to movie house, small town to small town until they captured an audience.

The indies weren’t overnight sensations. But, in time, they became sensations.

And now indie films are as widely accepted for their slick, professional quality as anything coming out of Hollywood’s studio system. Indies have figured out that they can accomplish more with ingenuity, imagination, guts, and artistic freedom than they can with money.

Even now, given the choice, I would much prefer watching a little independent film than a big studio flick.


The indie film has great characters, unforgettable stories, clever dialogue, unusual twists, and turns, and is a visual thrill ride.

The studio boys deliver special effects.

No story.

No characters.

No memorable dialogue.

Only special effects.

The indie filmmakers have carved a special niche for themselves.

They are who they are and are proud of it.

It’s time indie writers quit apologizing, feeling sorry for themselves, and do the same. The publishing future is in the hands of the indies.

Embrace it.

Please click HERE to find Conspiracy of Lies on Amazon.

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  • Leave it to me to pick a non-indie, non-genre niche: mainstream fiction written the traditional slow way – by an indie.

    For the same reasons you’re talking about. I’ve been pretty sure, all along, that a traditional agent (ye olde gatekeeper nowadays) would pass on my writing, as they did, in the traditional droves, when I started shopping my first novel – a mystery set in the world of fusion research, the Cold War cooperation between Russian and American physicists which still continues, and the shadowy realms of academe. All of which I had first-hand knowledge of (I will drag that out, and turn it into a historical mystery, as soon as I finish the current project).

    The submission (curious how the name fits) process is fraught for anything not exactly like everything else, only different. I wasted years on it, at my slow pace, and found it was too hard on my spirit, the concept that there were people out there who with a slip of paper could turn years of work into nothing.

    Traditional slots are LESS available now, and pay very poorly. I keep waiting for that evil empire to collapse (we just lost Sue Grafton), which it will – some day. Meanwhile, I have writing to do.

    And I hope to be among the first successful mainstream-writing indies. Maybe I will. Hope is good stuff.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Alicia, it’s not how fast someone writes a novel. It’s how good the novel is written, and you take the time and care to craft wonderful stories within a story. I’m convinced that publishers today hire twenty something gatekeepers to turn down manuscripts. Say no and no one can ever bleme you if it’s a book that doesn’t sell.

      • Some writers have the flexibility to try different things, and the speed to write in several genres, to discover what sells for them and what they enjoy writing. Some of us have to write what and how we need to write, and have no flexibility there at all.

        It’s how you are – and there is no one right way to write. There seem to be a lot of wrong ways – you have to try a certain number of them. Not a predictable career, so it’s a difficult addiction.

  • Thanks for writing this wonderful, empowering article on the Indie publishing industry, Caleb. I have always dreamed of having a great agent and being published by a well-known traditional house. That still hasn’t happened, but my six books have been beautifully produced and displayed by a POD company. My website is beautiful, and my presence on Amazon is topnotch. You have increased my pride in being an Indie author, Caleb. Thank you so much.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Suzanne: I believe Indie writers are the new American hero. We battle the odds every day, and sometimes we win. Even when we don’t, we refuse to lose.

      • I love your positive attitude, Caleb! I do know that quite a few of our famous American authors started out this way. Thank you for embracing and understanding this issue.

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