I’ve recently seen some discussions regarding Indie authors and was surprised to see that many people don’t know what an Indie author is, and many still hold some common misconceptions about them.
I wanted to talk a little about my own experiences and hopefully clear up some of the confusion.
I identify as an Indie author and while there are many different ways to categorise an Indie author I think the primary one is the subject of control.
I chose to move away from traditional publishing and become an Indie author because I like to have control over all aspects of my work. As an Indie author, I am able to have full creative control over my product, I choose distribution channels, I choose pricing strategies, everything about my independently published books is decided by one person; me.
Indie vs Traditional
As some of you may know, in the past I have published books with a traditional publisher. At that time, I had no goals to be a published author. But one day, I was approached by Ylva Publishing and asked to turn an existing work into a published work.
This was a fantastic opportunity and allowed me the chance to learn a lot about the world of writing and publishing. I personally view Ylva as one of the more forward-thinking and modern lesfic presses and their catalogue of diverse books is something to be proud of.
So, to be crystal clear about this, I view Indie publishing as having full control over your product. If there is a person who can veto your decisions, then I would say that you are probably not an Indie author.
There are many other ways to publish, vanity, collaborative, etc. But this is my quick and dirty definition of Indie vs Traditional.
Which is best?
This depends on the individual. I’m passionate about Indie but I recognise that traditional publishing presses are best for some.
With a traditional publisher comes label-prestige as well as the ability to work with an established, professional team. Also, critically for some, the publisher will shoulder all of the production costs. This means that the author doesn’t have to spend a penny to see their book become a reality. Note: if you are being asked to pay to have your book published, that’s a vanity publisher and you should be very careful.
However, there are some negatives to being with a traditional publisher too. Publishing through a publisher is a very slow process, there’s a loss of creative control, marketing help is practically non-existent, royalty rates are much lower, and you must sign away your rights.
Now, I’m not bashing traditional publishers. There are reasons for these negatives and they all come down to money. If a traditional publisher had a large marketing team and paid higher royalty rates—they’d be bankrupt in a week. There’s not a lot of money in publishing and the production costs are high.
As an author, you may have to suck up these losses for the privilege of the publisher taking a chance on your manuscript.
I’ve done traditional and I’ve done Indie and I know that Indie is right for me. It all depends on what kind of person you are, what skills you have, and whether you are willing to take on all aspects of your author business… and treat it like a business. Because, to my mind, it is.
Heartsome Publishing is the label I use to release my books and has released books by other authors in the past. It probably won’t release other authors in the future as I can’t, in good conscience, be as passionate about being an Indie as I am AND run a traditional publishing house.
Some common misconceptions
I find it strange how we are moving more towards appreciating homemade, traditionally crafted items and yet there is still a lot of negativity towards Indie authors.
An Indie movie is considered artsy and intellectual. Going to the local market and buying produce from a local farmer is considered supportive of the local community and ethical. Buying art from an independent artist is sought after and well thought of.
But books seem to be different and that’s because of a small minority who produce bad products tainting the whole market.
I’ve heard it said quite often that Indie authors don’t pay to have their books edited. I’ve also heard that Indie authors don’t know the difference between beta readers and editors and just use beta readers.
This is ridiculous. I know lots of Indie authors and they all pay for professional editing. There may be some who don’t edit their books but they are the small minority. Most Indie authors know that they have to produce a quality product and they spend money to do that.
There also seems to be confusion over what a traditional publisher is. Some have suggested that only the “Big 5” constitute a traditional publisher and all others are actually Indies. This definitely is not the case. A traditional publisher is any publisher who buys the rights to an author’s manuscript via a contract and produces a book in either paperback or electronic format.
To finish I would just like to say that I believe that Indie publishing is the future. I think there is still room for traditional publishers but I think new technology has opened up the publishing world to everyone. Indie publishing is getting better and better and more talented authors are making the change.
So, if you’re on the fence about trying an Indie author, give them a go. Things are improving all the time and you may just find your next favourite author!