You’ll understand someday when you have something of value to protect.

Those words came from a “big name” author who has sold many more books than myself, and she was talking about trademarks. (What else do authors talk about these days?) This occurred in a conversation where authors mentioned that many better selling authors hadn’t trademarked their names or brands, though others have. The consensus being handed down from this author was that an author who didn’t trademark the crap out of everything either was a fool or had nothing of value to protect.

FULL STOP.

Now, to give the author the benefit of the doubt, perhaps she didn’t mean her words to come across as condescending as they did. Or perhaps she didn’t mean to devalue the writing done by all the other authors who where conversing with her in her group. I have no doubt, in her mind, she was giving what she felt was good and prudent business advice. She forgot just one thing…

There is no “one true way” to be an indie author. We all came to this path driven in part because we wanted to do things our way, not be beholden to a publisher or someone to dole out the truth to us on a tweet by tweet basis.

So I’m here to tell you, indie authors whether you’ve written one book or a hundred, have a trademark or don’t, your work is something of value. You are valuable to the community. (Yes, even “that” author. Sometimes people are valuable for the lessons they teach, rather than the work they do.) And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I’m not asking anyone to hold hands and sing “we are the world” or anything. There will be rifts and divisions within the indie community, and since I’ve discovered Twitter, no doubt my vocalness has put off some people. But I also think it’s fair to say that the one thing I will preach until my dying day is that there is not a single way to be an indie author. You have to find your path. If that means a good and valid (and limited) trademark, no problem. As long as you use them according to their intended business use (specific series names, specific author names), be my guest. I won’t lie. I have something I’m thinking of trademarking because I want to expand its scope beyond a series I write on my own, and I feel a TM will protect that. However, just because you don’t have a trademark doesn’t mean you don’t have something of value to protect. And any author who says otherwise…well let’s just refer them to rule #1: each indie has a path.

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