Indie Publishing Part One: Say What?
Clarifying the Terminology
Self-publishing, according to Wikipedia, is “the publication of any book or other media by its author without the involvement of an established publisher.” If you’ve written blogs or online articles, you are independently published.
A traditional press is one that requires an application process (manuscript submission by author or agent). If the applicant is accepted, the house takes charge of the entire publication from start to finish. Author involvement varies with the publishing house but is usually minimal. The author pays nothing to publish. The publisher takes his cut from the resulting book sales.
Only “the big five” traditional presses are secure, so they are inundated with submissions, and the possibility of acceptance is steadily declining. Acquisitions editors have limited opportunities to present their cases, and their publishing group meetings are numbered with the surviving houses.
A hybrid author is one who has been both traditionally published by an established, traditional press, as well as being independently (self-) published.
Indie (independent) publishing means the author takes full responsibility for all aspects of the writing, publication and promotion of their book. They may not actually tackle each element solo, but are still in charge of hiring a professional to do the jobs they cannot and do not wish to do.
“The good news about self-publishing is you get to do everything yourself. The bad thing about self-publishing is you get to do everything yourself.” —Lori Lesko
A vanity publisher charges an author for book publication. Beware of any company that is not completely upfront about their process.
I contacted a Canadian company, Word Alive Press, that offers author services for a price, and asked them to clarify their position. The response was as follows:
“Normally, a Vanity Press puts out calls for submissions, but they do not have any set standard or evaluation process. In some cases, it may be unclear to the author that this is a fee for service arrangement.”
Word Alive considers themselves a Hybrid Press. All options and costs are clearly listed, and authors choose the services they wish to use.
CreateSpace: the former print division of Amazon
KDP: Kindle Direct Publishing, the digital division of Amazon
CreateSpace has discontinued its “paid professional editing, design and marketing services,” joining with KDP as one service, so we can upload our print and digital books at the same place. I just migrated my CreateSpace books to KDP, and it took only minutes.
Question: What is the difference between indie publishing and self-publishing?
Short answer: In my opinion, not much.
Long answer: Self-publishing has a long and somewhat disreputable history. Authors wrote their books and had them printed, then purchased a garage full of print copies according to the number they had agreed to / decided they needed. Since there were no doorkeepers as such in the self-publishing industry, the results were sometimes less than professional. Many of the earlier self-published books had a negative essence about them, perhaps because the authors did not take time to properly edit their work. Often the covers were of poor quality as well.
In more recent years, we’ve seen a resurgence of self-publishing, partly due to the narrowing of financial margins in the publishing industry, houses down-sizing, shutting their doors, or amalgamating with other companies. It has become much more difficult to secure a contract with a traditional publisher. But people continue to write and look for publication, so many have decided to publish their works independently (indie) of a traditional method.
Another change has also taken place, that of technological advancements. Authors now have access to professional editing sites, cover-design sites, formatting sites, and so on. Everything has changed. Many authors spring for custom packages to help them reach their goal; some learn the art, then offer it to others through freelance businesses.
As we move forward in the indie publishing world, we will discover other unfamiliar terminology and technology, and in my opinion, we need to power through and keep learning along the way.
Janice L. Dick writes historical and contemporary fiction, inspirational articles and book reviews. She also edits and presents writing workshops.