I’ve seen the odd snarky comment on Twitter about this, so I thought I’d weigh in.
Should Authors that choose the route of self-publication refer to themselves as “Indie Authors or Writers?” Seems a number of people are bothered by this. Their argument seems to rely on the fact that it is the small press publishing houses that are “indie” and not the authors themselves.
I call bulls*!#.
Let’s look at the two areas of artistic expression where indie is considered, by many, to be a badge of honour; the film and music industry.
What makes a band or filmmaker indie? Well, they aren’t paid to create their work. Instead, they invest in the tools to create it and then find a way to put it out to the world for consumption. Perhaps that’s a simplified view, but really, what else is there? They are creating work that isn’t being done with the blessing and bankroll of a major corporation. They take all the financial risks themselves and, if they’re lucky, reap the benefits.
So what makes them any different from a self-pubbed author?
Did the indie band build their own instruments? Did they build the software they used to record and edit the music? Did they create the infrastructure of iTunes that they used to market and sell their music? No, they didn’t do any of those things. They used their money to buy existing, proven, equipment and then used an existing means of publication.
Did the indie filmmaker build his cameras? Did he create the film and projectors used to show the movie? No, he outsourced all of those things.
If we apply the “publisher is the indie” aspect to the film makers and bands, then shouldn’t iTunes or the company that created the DVDs be considered the indie ones?
The fact is, in today’s ebook world, an author can write their book and create the epub file themselves. In fact, they can do everything up to the point where they have Amazon or iBookstore or the like sell the product. In the sense of the ebook, the author has done everything. The online etailers are just the store where they sell their product.
And if an author decides to create a paper and ink version of their book, they are still involved in the whole process, and in the end, they still pay for the service. They take the financial risk upon themselves to produce the book. No one pays them for it. There is no security that they will ever recoup the money they have invested. In essence, they have outsourced the printing, the same way the indie film maker outsources DVD production, the same way the indie band outsources CD production.
In truth, there is no difference between the financial risk, effort, and love of craft between the indie filmmaker, band, or author. They all create works of art and they all take financial risk to get their work out to the world. Just because they use a company to outsource a service doesn’t strip them of their indie status. After all, they are still the ones paying for it.
I mean, should Compaq get partial credit for my novel because I used one of their laptops to write it? Should Scrivener be considered the indie author because I used their software?
In the end, the reason writers are being questioned as to whether they are indie is because self-publishing still has such a bad rep. It’ll take years of amazing self-pubbed authors to wash that stain away. When that happens, being in complete control of your creative content will be seen as a badge of honour, as opposed to being a hack who couldn’t get a book deal.
So writers, proclaim yourself indie. Get outside the box. Write amazing, crazy stuff that no publishing house would touch and get it out there into the world. There will be people who will love you for it!