You might’ve heard these terms: Independent Author, Self-Published Author, Indie Author. You might’ve even heard some say it with a sneer and others with a cringe. You might’ve read some mean spirited articles putting down self-publishing. And others more optimistic saying that it’s changing the face of the publishing industry. There you are, in the middle of the bookstore, with an overload of contradictory information, not sure if you should buy that book by an ‘indie’ or run the opposite direction.
As an indie author I can tell you that you don’t have to fear us: Independent authors are simply writers who are also entrepreneurs. We are people who have decided to take control of our own publishing needs. While traditionally published authors seek a publishing house to take their manuscript, they rarely have any input over the final product. We independents have control over the whole process. From editing, layout, cover, marketing, and distribution, independent authors own every single one of the decisions involved in the creation of our books.
Being Independent, Indie or Self-published is basically the same. I prefer using the term ‘Independent’ or ‘Indie’ though. To me, the term ‘Self-Published’ has led to the erroneous idea that we do everything ourselves. Most independent authors rely on professional freelancers to help us achieve the creation of quality-competitive books. Thanks to technology and globalization, we have access to the same tools traditional publishers do. Most Indies’ budgets are limited, though. That doesn’t mean we sacrifice quality. It just means that we have to be more resourceful!
There’s still some stigma associated with the self-publishing industry, maybe perpetuated by those who don’t want the book industry to go in the direction it’s (inevitably) going: A closer relationship between author-readers, and a publishing industry that won’t be controlled exclusively by publishers.
Yes, the publishing industry has changed enormously in the past years. Technology has opened possibilities we didn’t have before. One of those is the ability to publish our work without having to go through a traditional publisher. Now anyone can upload a book to Kindle, which I personally think is great. It is true, though, that some authors have rushed to publish, or have published, sub-standard work. For what I’ve seen (and read), that is changing too: Indies are more aware of the need to create books that compete with those put out by traditional publishers. In the end, readers don’t care whose name is printed on the spine of the book. They care about the story written on those pages, and the author’s ability to convey a message beyond the jackets of the book.
We, Indies, are free to choose the book we want to publish because we aren’t ruled by market trends. We are diverse, innovative, and creative, and we are writing books that reflect us – ALL of us. We’re writer-entrepreneurs who are passionate about books and writing.
So, if you are holding a book by an Indie in your hands, consider giving it a chance (instead of running in the opposite direction). You might love it. You might not; just like could happen with any other book you pick up at a bookstore. But if you do love the book, make sure to let others know and help hesitant booklovers make up their minds. Now, if you hear a bell ringing in the distance…you know what that means… it might be an indie author getting their wings…
Mariana Llanos is an independent author with five children’s books to her credit. She publishes books in English and in Spanish. Mariana visits schools around the world through virtual technology to encourage children to write and read.