There are many myths and misconception around the distinction between independent authors and self-publishing. Perhaps the most damaging debate centers around the notion that self-publishing is devaluing publishing. To many people, self-publishing means bad quality books with no editing, published by one of the vanity presses. The main concern is that with this rubbish flooding the world, readers are unable to find the good quality books. Some mainstream publishing companies equate self-publishing with just digital distribution. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. While it’s true that these books do exist, we must also recognize that today’s readers are the new gatekeepers of the publishing world. Online sales, reviews and ranking will ensure that the cream rises and the bad stuff drops out of the picture.
Eisler defines self-publishing as meaning “you keep the rights to your book and publish it yourself using distributor/retailers like Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, or Sony, typically retaining 70% of the cover price instead of the 17.5% offered by legacy publishers (for digital editions.)”
At its most basic, indie means there is no separate publisher involved. Many indies may have set up their own micro-press, so their books still have a publisher name that is not the author’s name, but the publisher is not one of the author services companies. The indie author most likely owns their own ISBNs. The indie pays the bills and is paid by the distributors directly. The only middle man is the distributor.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that indie authors have to do it all alone. Most indies employ a team of professionals to assist them. It’s a collaborative process that includes professional editors, professional designers and formatters for digital and print books. They know the value of their work includes the way it is perceived on the page as well as the work itself. Since one of the biggest criticisms of self-publishing is the poor quality of the finished product, it is important to take these extra steps.
Being an indie author does not mean we have to do this alone. It doesn’t mean that we have to forgo agents, editors or publicists. It doesn’t mean that we have to pass on those once-upon dreamed traditional deals. Most indies are still interested in a publishing deal if it offers something they can’t do or don’t want to do themselves. An independent author realizes that this isn’t a journey with one path. There are multiple ways to obtain the same goal. There are people we can surround ourselves with who will/can help us – like editors, agents, publicists etc.
Novelist and Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), Orna Ross defines an indie author as follows:
“If you see yourself as the creative director of your books, from concept to completion and beyond, then you’re indie. You don’t approach publishers with a longing for validation: ‘publish me please’. You make partnerships that help you deliver the best possible book to the most possible readers, trade publishers included.”
The Alliance allows that you are an independent author if:
- You have self-published at least one book.
- You recognize that ‘indie’ does not necessarily mean ‘self-publishing only’ and acknowledge that even the most indie-spirited self-publisher works in collaboration with other publishing professionals (editors, designers, distributors) to produce a good book and reach readers. You are open to mutual beneficial partnerships, including trade publishing deals where appropriate for you, so long as the author’s status as creative director of the book is acknowledged.
- You expect your status in the partnership to be reflected in contracts and terms, not just lip service.
- You recognize that you are central to a revolutionary shift in publishing which is moving from seeing the author as resource (in the new parlance ‘content provider’) to respecting the author as creative director.
- You are proud of your indie status, which you carry into all your ventures, negotiations and collaborations for your own benefit and to the benefit of all writers.
The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/
For reviews of other Indie authors, check out this link. http://gloriaantypowichauthor.com/category/books-ive-read-reviews/
Wanda DeHaven Pyle is an award-winning author of Windborne and the Legacy Trilogy. You can find her works at http://amazon.com/author/wandapyle