What exactly is an Indie author? In my experience, it’s a foolhardy, impossibly optimistic, romantic soul who eschews tradition, nay, thumbs his or her nose at the establishment, and dares to release a book without blessing or benefit of a big box publishing house. And Indie publishing is on the rise, as are e-book sales, which, by some estimations, will replace traditional book sales in the very near future.
Remember back in the day when we bought records? No, records, those black vinyl discs with grooves in them. Big LPs, the size of dinner platters, and 45s, with those big holes in the middle and you bought those little plastic gizmos you had to snap into place? How did those records get made? Artists made the rounds, begging to be heard, begging radio stations to play their songs, begging record companies to take a chance on them.
Then came iTunes. And Youtube. And many other websites, and suddenly, anyone with recording equipment could cut their own tracks and release them digitally. And we were blessed with a whole new world of music that would never have made it past the industry executives.
For over a century, executives at big box publishing houses have decided what books the reading public has access to, and to which ones they do not. In her article on The Huffington Post, Eva Lesko Natiello refers to the publishing houses as “The Gatekeepers,” as she describes the path she took to eventually become a successful Indie author. Traditional publishers allow books to trickle out, with the decision of who makes the cut most often based on projected sales rather than on quality of work.
It’s now easier than ever before for Indie authors to publish their work and get it into the hands of readers. Websites like Kindle Direct Publishing, Draft2Digital, and Smashwords allow authors to upload their manuscripts which are then formatted and converted to the various files supported by the e-readers that are out there. Authors can also easily have their books published to paperback, with the publishing companies taking their cut from sales rather than out of pocket, up front.
The benefits to the Indie authors are obvious.
- Publish immediately, without waiting for the okay from on high. Matter of fact, I accidentally published my first book.
- Complete control over your work. When you edit your own work, no one makes you cut out a scene that you really love. You pick the cover, you pick the release date, you pick the sales venues, you set the price.
What do readers get out of the deal?
- Access. Access to great books that large publishing houses would have, for whatever reason, turned down. Read the stats about famous books that were turned down dozens of times. Who has time for that?
- Lower prices. The average self-published e-book costs between $.99 and $3.99, and many are offered for free.
- Interaction with authors. By necessity, Indie authors are all over social media. They don’t have big box marketing departments behind them. Readers can follow and interact with their favorite writers on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other outlets.
- Great deals. Often, authors offer sale prices, contests, and giveaways.
- Buying an Indie book is the literary equivalent of ‘buying local’. An author is a small business owner. When you support an Indie author, you support the local economy.
Indie publishing is good for everyone. If you haven’t read an Indie book yet, give it a try. Pick your favorite genre and do a little browsing. Check reviews and recommendations. And don’t forget to leave a review. It’s a little thing that means a lot.