I was having a discussion last week that seemed to finish spreading the icing on to the cake for me. It had to do with usage of the term “Indie”. It has become commonplace to see and hear it on Twitter, Goodreads, FaceBook, and Amazon, where it functions to describe an author who has, by his or her choice, traveled outside the realm of traditional publishing. What I find disturbing is that more and more the word Indie is bantered about seemingly as a disparaging way to refer to an author’s status within the publishing industry and bringing it to the brink of becoming slang. And, last time I checked, slang isn’t really how a person wants to be branded.
There are even discussions that have gone up on Amazon’s Kindle Board “Name Brand vs. Indie Authors”. Name Brand? Ahh, they must mean the traditional brick and mortar publishers. They get the high dollar term, Name Brand. Nordstrom vs. WalMart.
Okay, I’ve shopped in both stores. You can get the Juicy handbags, pay up to and over $300.00, or the Manolo Blahnik shoes, which are insanely expensive as well. It’s not so much the quality you’re buying but the name. Hey, we all know we can just as easily get an off-brand purse or pair of Brinley Co. shoes for less than $50.00 at WalMart. Both brands of shoes are comfortable, both purses are functional. But if it’s got a name brand behind it, it must be extra-ordinary, right? Name Brand vs. Indie.
Oh, there are other artists considered Indie. In fact, it’s way cool to be an Indie musician. If you’re a musician who is indie, then you are radical, free-spirited. The musician’s version of Amazon is iTunes and like Amazon, there is no fee to sign up, however, and here is where the Big Difference occurs, the Indie musicians have to pay to have the music uploaded to the iTunes site via an encoding house or aggregator (a paid expert to deliver audio content to iTunes – *Credit for this information given to the iTunes website). Contrary to Amazon’s policy that anyone with access to a computer and an Amazon account who wants to upload even a Dear John letter to Amazon, call it a short story and sell it for 99 Cents, can do so without so much as an upload or publication fee. And that person that just “published” the Dear John letter – he’s now considered an Indie author. Is it any wonder an Indie author is getting a bad rep, and, quite frankly, deservedly so.
I believe it’s becoming important to begin to separate and divide the Indie Authors from the Self-Published Authors. Do you think of yourself as an Indie Author or a Self-Published Author? I know the term is supposed to be synonymous with each other but I beg to differ.
An Indie means you’re independent, period. Look it up if you don’t believe me – that’s the definition. A person who self-publishes, the total and complete opposite of independent has taken place. A self-published author uses resources. They have employed the services of an editor, a proofreader and, finally, a cover design artist. Then the hard work begins – the marketing. The self-published author aligns themselves with other authors, becoming part of an invisible marketing team. They cross-promote the other’s work by tweeting or sharing posts, go in together for giveaways and contests. A self-published artist surrounds him/herself with individuals who support them, just like any traditionally published artist, they have a team working with them. How can a serious author – and when I say serious, I’m talking about a person who lives and breathes writing, can’t live without it – do it independently. They can’t. And that’s what separates the indies from the self-publishers.
I’m in the process of writing my first novel. I have an editor; and, when the time is right, I will be hiring a proofreader, a cover design artist, and someone to do a book trailer. I am surrounded by great authors and friends who I know will be there to help me get the word out that Gail Gentry has finally completed and published her first novel. They are my support system, my agents, and better yet, they don’t take 15% off the top.
I am not now, nor ever will be, an indie. Call me Self-Published.