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Old 03-29-2012, 07:11 AM   #1
Justin Nemo
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Call yourself an Indie Author?

I was having a conversation over dinner last night about the way that publishing has changed over the past few years, when one of my friends asked me how I could call myself an Independent Author, when I publish my books with Amazon and B&N etc. I was about to respond with a witty rejoinder, when I realised that, maybe he had a point.

We all like to call ourselves Indie Authors, it's a cool sounding name, but are we truly Independent?
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:05 AM   #2
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I'm indie not because I have no publisher; I'm indie because I'm not trapped by one the way a lot of authors are these days.
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:28 AM   #3
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But surely Smashwords is your publisher.
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:50 AM   #4
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And if you do call yourself an Indie Author (I don't call myself and Indie Author yet because I have yet to publish any of my work at all, so the "you" is not meant in any derogatory manner), then how does this definition fit with the various fan-fiction authors out there? Are they also Indie Authors, albeit of a particular corner of the market and using a different "publisher"? (A thread I started some time ago on the general forum made me ask this, since I was very surprised to learn just how prolific such work was.)

I think that perhaps the description of Indie Author is more encompassing than "simply" having written a novel and uploaded it somewhere. It requires (or at least implies) full independent production of an entire book (even if an ebook), not just presenting the text of the story. That is: By caring about, and taking responsibility for, the presentation and artwork and reader reception of the finished article, you really are taking on the role of publication itself, and it is that aspect that makes you a distinctly Indie Author, rather than "just" (again no denigration implied) an author.

In the case of Smashwords and Amazon, and fan-fiction sites, these are really distributors, not publishers. Responsibility for the "book", not just the text, is what makes you an independent publisher/author.
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Old 03-29-2012, 09:38 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by gmw View Post
And if you do call yourself an Indie Author (I don't call myself and Indie Author yet because I have yet to publish any of my work at all, so the "you" is not meant in any derogatory manner), then how does this definition fit with the various fan-fiction authors out there? Are they also Indie Authors, albeit of a particular corner of the market and using a different "publisher"? (A thread I started some time ago on the general forum made me ask this, since I was very surprised to learn just how prolific such work was.)

I think that perhaps the description of Indie Author is more encompassing than "simply" having written a novel and uploaded it somewhere. It requires (or at least implies) full independent production of an entire book (even if an ebook), not just presenting the text of the story. That is: By caring about, and taking responsibility for, the presentation and artwork and reader reception of the finished article, you really are taking on the role of publication itself, and it is that aspect that makes you a distinctly Indie Author, rather than "just" (again no denigration implied) an author.

In the case of Smashwords and Amazon, and fan-fiction sites, these are really distributors, not publishers. Responsibility for the "book", not just the text, is what makes you an independent publisher/author.
I accept what you are saying and in fact agree with most of it, but hasn't the roll of publisher changed somewhat with the coming of the ebook? With printed books there was so much more for the publisher to do and apart from the writing and maybe editing, the publisher did everything else. Obviously with ebooks most of that work doesn't exist.

With regard to Amazon and Smashwords. Amazon now considers itself to be a publisher and I think I'm right in saying that Smashwords were the first to call themselves epublishers.
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Old 03-29-2012, 09:54 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Nemo View Post
I accept what you are saying and in fact agree with most of it, but hasn't the roll of publisher changed somewhat with the coming of the ebook? With printed books there was so much more for the publisher to do and apart from the writing and maybe editing, the publisher did everything else. Obviously with ebooks most of that work doesn't exist.
With the sole exception of printing, all the work that publishers do with paper books also applies to eBooks. What is it that you believe doesn't have to be done for eBooks?
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:25 AM   #7
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In the games industry an indie developer is one that isn't BANK-ROLLED by a publisher but there's absolutely nothing stopping them using a publisher to help with distribution. The relationship isn't that dissimilar with writing.

If you write a book you're a writer, if it's published somewhere you're an author. "Indie author" used to be synonymous with vanity publishing so let's assume the connotations stand and accept that anyone who publishes their work where it can be seen is an indie author, including fanfic writers.

There's no real difference between choosing to publish your own work through an ebook publisher with low or non-existent quality control - and what quality control there is usually only extends to the presentation of the work and not the content - or choosing to put it up on a slash website.

If the lack of distinction worries you, consider raising yourself out of the morass by becoming a "wealthy indie author" - nothing indicates success quite like pots full of money.
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:29 AM   #8
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If the lack of distinction worries you, consider raising yourself out of the morass by becoming a "wealthy indie author" - nothing indicates success quite like pots full of money.
Or even better, consider having your books properly edited. That really WOULD be something that would make you stand out from the majority.
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:30 AM   #9
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But surely Smashwords is your publisher.
No, Smashwords is not a publisher; it is a distributor.

An indie author is defined, in the trade, generally as an author who undertakes to perform for him-/herself the functions that are normally performed by a traditional publisher, primarily:
  1. editing and proofreading
  2. arranging for distribution
  3. marketing
  4. verifying sales data and royalty distributions
  5. dealing with customer complaints
There is no magic to being an indie author other than accepting 100% responsibility for all phases of the book production and retailing processes.
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Old 03-29-2012, 11:25 AM   #10
Steven Lyle Jordan
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In the case of Smashwords and Amazon, and fan-fiction sites, these are really distributors, not publishers. Responsibility for the "book", not just the text, is what makes you an independent publisher/author.
I'd agree with this: An independent author still does the lion's share of the work, and the online resellers simply provide a sales outlet (despite claims to the contrary). It's up to you whether you use them, some of them or none of them (you can always publish through your own site, as I do), and you are not contractually obligated to any of them... you can pull your books and sever the connection at any time. Sounds pretty independent to me.
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Old 03-29-2012, 11:33 AM   #11
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Or even better, consider having your books properly edited. That really WOULD be something that would make you stand out from the majority.
Proper editing is a joke these days. Nobody bothers to proofread anymore, not even the big name guys.
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Old 03-29-2012, 12:33 PM   #12
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Proper editing is a joke these days. Nobody bothers to proofread anymore, not even the big name guys.
My experience differs. Backlist stuff is often not proofed, but new eBooks from big-name publishers are generally of very good quality.
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Old 03-29-2012, 01:02 PM   #13
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No, Smashwords is not a publisher; it is a distributor.

An indie author is defined, in the trade, generally as an author who undertakes to perform for him-/herself the functions that are normally performed by a traditional publisher, primarily:
  1. editing and proofreading
  2. arranging for distribution
  3. marketing
  4. verifying sales data and royalty distributions
  5. dealing with customer complaints
There is no magic to being an indie author other than accepting 100% responsibility for all phases of the book production and retailing processes.
OK so where do you publish your ebooks?
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Old 03-29-2012, 01:04 PM   #14
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OK so where do you publish your ebooks?
Rich is a professional editor, Justin, not an author.
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Old 03-29-2012, 01:09 PM   #15
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Isn't the clue in the word independent?

Indie authors answer only to their readers. They use services to get their work done. They are independent in the sense that they are free to make all the choices regarding getting their product to market, and are responsible for all aspects of that process. Any deadlines are self imposed. It is the lack of constraint by a third party that makes an Indie, independent.
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