I first sought to discover the meaning of this word, "indie." Perhaps from that I would further understand how this label would belong to an author.
"Indie" is a shortened form of “independent” and has nothing to do with Indiana Jones. Disappointment².
"Indie" is a word you will find in common use in relation to music and film, although I'm more familiar with the term "independent film" than "indie films."
What does it mean for an author to be independent?
Hmm... Definition time!
- one whose opinion is uninfluenced by another
- not dependent on another’s support
Those of us who are of an artistic and romantic nature will perk up at such a thing. Films funded from the pocket – low-budget but enlightening. Music which goes against the grain, finding kin to connect with.
Appealing as it sounded, I still wasn't sure how the term applied to authors.
So I kept looking, and finally came to a conclusion as to what an indie author is, or at least how the term is most often used in today's market.
An indie author is a self-published author: someone who takes the plunge to publish their work on their own, whether via a website designed for the purpose, or through self-printing and distribution.
What is self-publishing?
It's when, instead of going the route of getting an agent and a publisher, you take the decision to publish your own work. You control the decision of how your book is presented and marketed to potential readers.
These days, anyone can self-publish. However, if anyone can do something it becomes far less extraordinary, doesn't it? Well, anyone can self-publish but whether everyone should is an entirely different matter.
Regardless of whether you would read a book that you knew to "be self-published," you have to admit that the term "indie" has a much nicer ring to it.
To me, whether a book is self-published or traditionally published is irrelevant if the book is good. I always say, 'A good book is a good book is a good book.' Not all self-published books are going to be good. In fact, a lot of them won't be.
Thinking back to the romanticism of indie music and independent films, I believe that a spectacular read which has been self-published would be an exciting discovery. Even more so because there are so many novels – self-published and otherwise – which are far from compelling.
I'm not sure I would go out of my way to read a book just because it was labeled "indie," although I believe there is a growing support for self-published authors these days. Authors self-publish because they have not been able or inclined to obtain a literary agent and a publishing contract.
Most books aren't taken on by agents and publishers because they are not up to the written quality that they are seeking. Yet a few of these books are just not seen as marketable. Thus, their chance to be published slips away in the absence of fitting into to a current trend.
What is an indie author? Well, I'm still not 100% sure.
There is a definite affiliation with self-publishing, but when it comes to the broader sense of "indie publishing," an "independent publisher" seems to be synonymous with a small or niche press, something very different from self-publishing.
I wonder... Are those that call themselves "indie authors" in fact indie at all? It's an interesting, albeit confusing, thought.
For now, I think that I'll just stick with affiliating "Indie" with Dr. Jones.
What is your definition of an indie author?