The Sweetie Chronicles

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

Call Me Indie

On his blog this week, Nathan Bransford brought up the question: Who should have the Indie Label: Self-Publishers or Small Presses?

It's a good question. As a self-proclaimed Indie author, I thought I would throw in my two cents. I think in order to really look at the term, you have to look at how it's used in other venues. Like Indie Rock for example. The funny thing is that when I started googling 'Indie', I realized that there is some level of controversy surrounding that term in both music and films. No one is sure whether it should be given to bands with a certain sound or if it simply refers to anyone who makes music with a certain set of Indie record labels. Apparently people have their own vigorous opinions on the matter.

How could we expect the term to be any different in the publishing business? /shrug. According to wikipedia, Indie is simply a shortform of the word "independent". The Free Dicitonary online defines indie as "1. One, such as a studio or producer, that is unafilliated with a larger or more commercial organization. 2. An artistic work produced by an independent company or group." Dictionary.com says it is "1. an independently owned business. 2. self-employed; privately owned."

I understand that some small presses have been using the term Indie to describe themselves and their authors for years. Self-published authors, for the most part, didn't really register. The problem of no distribution meant most self-pubs weren't selling enough to even make a difference on a grander scale. Then there are the 'vanity publishers' that charge enormous fees to 'publish' an author's books. Some people still hear self-published and automatically think vanity. But times have changed. According to the definitions above, I think those Indie presses are going to have to scoot over and give self-published authors some room.

With the negative stigma placed on the term 'self-published' over the years, authors who are self-publishing will naturally want to come up with some other term to describe ourselves. We want to push away from that stigma that says we can't write for crap or that we are only self-publishing because we couldn't get a publishing contract. Things are different now, so the terms should also evolve. And 'Indie' already has a much more positive connotation. I say that if you have a problem with self-published authors calling themselves independent, you're a little bit crazy. And probably a little behind the times. Or at least in denial about how fast the publishing world is changing.

To say I'm Indie means also saying I'm free from corporate pressure or obligation. I'm brave enough to take my future into my own hands. It means I am willing to let the readers be my gatekeepers. Being Indie means I am taking full responsibility for what happens in my own writing career. It means that I am publishing my own artistic and creative works independent of any corporation or larger commercial organization's investments.

It would be cool if I could come up with some brand-new fresh word to describe what it is authors like me are doing. I mean, I have an easy time coming up with words to describe us. Brave. Free. Awesome. :P Words like that. But since people have already started using the term 'Indie' and since the definition seems to fit, I think that's what we're probably going to be called. And I'm okay with that.

Anyone who isn't is just going to have to get over it.

3 comments:

KendallGrey April 8, 2011 at 5:19 PM  

I'm with you. I'm indie and proud of it. Screw the naysayers. They're just jealous anyway.

Marcia Colette April 8, 2011 at 6:56 PM  

From what I understand a lot of small presses started publishing their own stuff while taking on other authors. So, how do they get to use "indie" and we don't??

Yeah, I'm indie.

Rebecca Knight April 14, 2011 at 2:39 PM  

Love this post :).

I've been researching how to self publish my book, and came across your blog in the comments of the self pub discussion at JA Konrath's blog. It's awesome to see how successful you've been, and it looks like your career is just getting started.

For the record, the term "indie" seems to fit perfectly for those who are independently responsible for their own work.

Sarra Cannon

Young Adult Indie Author

I always secretly wanted to be a cheerleader. And a witch. Now, I write about both. The first five novels in my Peachville High Demons Young Adult Paranormal series are available now in ebook!

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