I’ve been asked a few times in the past week some questions about Indie or Independent Authors. These questions brought to my attention that many readers are not certain of what being an “Indie” author really means.
Here’s the definition of an Indie Author from Joann Penn. At its most basic, indie means there is no separate publisher involved.
I don’t think most readers fully understand exactly what being “Indie” or Independent Author actually entails.
I’m going to tell you what it means to me.
It means that I publish my book. I am the publisher and I have no publisher backing me. I am responsible for 100% of the FUNDING of my work. I am 100% responsible for the PROMOTING of my book. It means that I am 100% responsible for the EDITING of my book and then I hire and pay an editor to do a “final edit” for me. It means that I am 100% responsible for the COVER of my book and I hire and pay a cover designer I trust. It means that I am 100% responsible for the FORMATTING of my book and I hire and pay a formatter. It means that I am 100% responsible for the DISTRIBUTION of my book. It means it if I fail or succeed that’s on ME, not on a publisher or publishing company.
Promotion with a publisher means you have people on a payroll who’s job is to PROMOTE you and your work. Promotion as an Indie Author means that you have to bust your ass and pimp yourself. You have to contact and sell yourself to blogs and other authors to have them help promote and support you. You have to engage your intended audience long before your book even comes out. You have to make them want to read it and make them want to know more about you. Street Teams are excellent marketing tools as well. I’m going to steal this description from Stephanie of Steph’s Sweet Reads of what a Street Team is. “
Without all of these people who believe in you, love your work, and support and back you, an Indie author will never succeed.
Editing is so important to Indie Authors. I am an Editor, but even I have Beta Readers read my work and flag mistakes I may have missed. I read my manuscript about 50 times, continuously revising, and correcting, before I send it off to my Beta’s. Then, I send it to another editor read to tweek it one last time, a “Final Edit”, before publishing. Again, without a publisher, I am responsible for this and for the funding of this.
Editing is important because as an Indie Author you are already at a disadvantage since you are responsible for you, but throw in a lot of typos and grammatical errors and you will lose your readers and get slammed in reviews. Suicide for an Indie.
Cover Designis also SO important. I know for me personally, if I don’t like a cover, I won’t even read the blurb on a book. It could be an amazing book, but if the cover is ugly or doesn’t catch my eye, then I’m passing on it.
This is when either having experience in design or hiring a fantastic cover designer comes in. Again, this is something that you pay for, because you don’t have a publisher to pick up that tab. Throw in a custom cover with a professional photo shoot and you’re guaranteed to have an exclusive cover, but that’s also another cost that you are covering.
My cover designer is amazing. But there are so many talented one’s out there. Take the time to make your cover shine so people will stop and go, “I want to read that book.”
Formatting is something that is important and each device that you can read an e-book on is formatted a little differently. Another cost for you since you don’t have a team behind you doing all of this. If the formatting is “off” in a book, it’s distracting and can lead to people not finishing the book or bad reviews.
Publishing Distributionis scary as hell. You are responsible for uploading your book and distributing it to the masses. If you want your books on separate channels, you have to do that. If you want your book in paperback, you have to do that. If you want to see your books on store shelves, you have to make the store want to take a chance on you. No one else does it for you. It’s all on you.
If an author gets picked up by a publisher, their job is usually to write and hand the manuscript over. Everything else is typically the publishers responsibility.
This is why it’s so awesome when an Indie Author does well, because they’ve done it on their own. It’s their responsibility to sell themselves since they don’t have a publisher to do it for them. They are responsible for building their team and in a really great case, they have an awesome support system and team behind them, thatthey’ve built… on their own and on their dime, through their blood, sweat, and tears.
And ps… I’m not knocking published authors, at all. That is most “Indie’s” dream. To have a publisher pick them up and want to distribute them.
But the next time you see an Indie Author doing well, understand exactly what an accomplishment that is and how much courage it took to put themselves out there for the world to love, hate, criticize, or fawn over.
Give credit where credit is due and if you love them, tell them!