Indie Publishing – To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Meaning

Over on Writers Beware Blog there is a posting and comment discussion about IndieReader and April Hamilton’s launch of Publitariat Vault. These are places for self publishing authors to list their books for sale and expose them to a wider industry audience as well as the buying book public. It got me thinking about the term ‘indie’ which seems to have slowly over the past six months or so crept into the self-publish stratosphere.

If I remember correctly, my senses were needled some time ago when AuthorSolutions Vice President of Marketing, Keith Ogorek, jumped on the ‘indie’ bandwagon and much espoused the term in conjunction with what his company were doing for self-published authors. That particular article is here. I took a quote back then from Ogorek’s PR statement. Let me quote it again;

“Now, through indie book publishing companies like AuthorHouse and iUniverse, authors can let the readers decide if their book is any good or not.”

So AuthorHouse and iUniverse are in the same boat on the publishing river as David R Godine, Faber, Canongate and the University of Nebraska Press. I don’t think so. It has fuelled my thinking again on the term, ‘indie’ and what exactly it means in the context particularly of self-publishing. I use it myself in the name of this site, POD, Self Publishing & Independent Publishing. My own deliberate reference to it is to do with including publishing companies who are considered traditional publishers, but are not tied to the large mainstream global publishing groups, ie, Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette Livre etc. My term used on the site is not a means of exclusion. In many ways, I meant independent more than just to be a company/imprint owned and tied to a large publishing group, that is, independent in business strategy as well as catalogue listing.

The fact is, no author, whatever their humble beginnings and by whatever means or methods they initially gain publication, wishes to remain ‘indie’ by the definition of ASI’s Keith Ogorek or the owners/administrators/profiteers of websites like IndieReader, Jexbo or Publitariat Vault. Most authors using these sites/services are actually charging headlong in the opposite direction. They would give their eye-teeth to land a contract with Random House.

My beef is not necessarily with the ‘badge of honour’ approach which seems to go with being described as an ‘indie’ author who has fought in the wars of the publishing world at the ‘frontline’ of battle, but rather the connotation that what this author writes is somehow different or alternative to the norms of what authors have always written. Does an author sit in the secrecy of the garden shed or loft late at night and say to himself/herself; my next book is going to be an ‘indie’ novel! The ‘indie’ revolution is starting to become about books of ‘perceived content’ over actual content. The attempt of the ‘indie’ movement, driven predominantly by marketers, on line business developers and author solution companies is to metamorphosis the ‘indie music’ template onto publishing. But the fact is that music is and has always been an art of performance and reading and writing will always be a practice of self indulgence and solitude – certainly to be shared, but only when we have tasted the cream.

From Wikipedia
indie is a shortform of “independent”; it may refer to:
 Independent circuit, professional wrestling independent promotions
 Indie design for niche and often handmade products
 Indie role-playing game, published outside mainstream means
 Independent music, subculture music that is independent of major producers; music of any genre can be labeled “indie”, but especially indie pop or indie rock
 Indie pop a genre of alternative pop music
 Indie rock, a genre of alternative rock music
 Independent film, a low budget film by a small studio
 Indie Literature, a book published outside of mainstream publishing.
 Independent video game development, video games created without financial backing from large companies
 Indie Publisher, a small press
 Independent record label, operates without major corporate funding
 Independent soda, made by small privately run companies

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