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editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

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shadowwalker

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I've seen (I think here and on other blogs/sites) people using the term "indie writer" for self-published writers, and some discussion as to whether this is the 'proper' term. (And if this has been discussed here before, would appreciate a link ;)). I do NOT want to start an argument - but I would like to understand why people think there is (or is not) a difference between the two. I'm not seeing why they wouldn't be interchangeable, but I'm no expert on publishing terminology, either. Basically I just like to use the 'correct' term when I get into discussions.

And mods - if this turns into just another bunch of rams butting heads, feel free to delete. Don't need any more of that, I'm thinking. :tongue
 

Old Hack

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The problem is that the term "independent publisher" was already in use when people started calling themselves "indie publisher". As far as I'm concerned, and independent publisher is one which isn't owned by a big conglomerate: it's not a writer-publisher going it alone, and so "indie publisher" is bound to cause confusion, which really doesn't help anyone.

And don't worry about mods objecting to your thread. I'm a mod, and I think this is a very useful discussion for us to have here.
 

TrickyFiction

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I do believe there's a difference between an "independent publisher" and an "independent writer," though. From what I've read self-published authors are using the term "indie writer" in order to emulate independent musicians and that whole sub-culture. In other words, I think they are self-published, independent authors... if that makes any sense.
 

JSSchley

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I'm glad someone started this convo! I actually just came across this on Nathan Bransford's site: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2011/04/who-deserves-indie-label.html

There were a lot of really great comments there.

I used to work for an indie publisher and we were very proud of that label. We produced great books, put a LOT of money and time into them, and had a couple of NYT bestsellers. I was low man on the totem pole and right out of college, but many of the people in the house had decades of experience working in the industry, mostly for the big 6. So I confess I'm kind of biased in this debate and I understand why people published by and working for these small presses bristle a bit that their term is being co-opted for self-publishing. Indie commercial publishing is nothing like self-publishing.

At the same time, it seems to be being adopted, and I'm not sure there's much anyone can do about it. If I'm not mistaken, the majority of books released nowadays are self-published. So if the self-published authors choose a label for themselves, they way outnumber those being commercially published, *especially* by independent commercial publishers, and the term is the one that's going to be used.

I like the distinction between an indie writer and an indie publisher. I don't love the conflation of "self-published" with "bad" because it's not universally true. But the issue is that on the whole , self-pub allows books to get to market that may not be ready to be there. Whether you call it "indie publishing," "self-publishing," "subsidized publishing," or whatever, the stigma of being associated with those titles is probably going to stay.
 
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kaitie

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I'm with Old Hack. The term was already in use and it's been adopted by people who are trying to change the meaning now. I dislike it because it feels inherently dishonest to me, whether that's how it's intended or not. Because the term already has a pre-existing meaning, it makes it sound as if it's implying that you published with an independent publisher. I also have no doubt that some people use it that way intentionally, in the same manner that I've seen suggestions that one should start his own publishing company so that your books don't look self-published. From a reader's standpoint, that bothers me because it seems deceptive.

I can understand the desire to move away from "self-publishing," but I wish there was a way to do it that didn't involve changing the meaning of a preexisting word. After all, what are indie publishers now? If self-publishing becomes indie, what are those guys supposed to be called?
 

shaldna

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Do you think it's because people genuinely don't get what the terms mean and they are confused?

Or do you think it's because it sounds more socially acceptable to say 'indie published' rather than 'self published' ?
 

leigh78

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New to this forum – over here primarily out of curiosity. I didn’t realize that self-publishers were calling themselves ‘indie publishers’ However, I did click on the link to Nathan’s blog and I must say that what Dick Margulis said (second comment down in the comment section) makes sense to me. So I think it’s fair for that author that is truly self-publishing their work (not vanity publishing) to call themselves indy.
Just my thoughts on the subject.
 

leigh78

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Both.

Seems like I'm posting the same links in every thread, but here's this one again: Why You Are Probably Not an Independent Author


I only glanced at Victoria’s blog but I think that it’s saying the same thing as the commenter said on Nathan’s blog. If you’re paying for the IBSN number, if you’re finding a printer, if you’re hiring an editor and/or cover designer I see nothing wrong with calling yourself an indie publisher as you are actually independently publishing your book. If you’re vanity publishing then you are not the one actually publishing the book so then it wouldn’t be correct to call yourself an indie publisher.
I see several people on this forum planning to be the actual publisher. Therefore, I see nothing wrong with them using the term indie publisher.
Again, just my thoughts.
 

scope

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If you’re paying for the IBSN number, if you’re finding a printer, if you’re hiring an editor and/or cover designer I see nothing wrong with calling yourself an indie publisher as you are actually independently publishing your book. If you’re vanity publishing then you are not the one actually publishing the book so then it wouldn’t be correct to call yourself an indie publisher.
I see several people on this forum planning to be the actual publisher. Therefore, I see nothing wrong with them using the term indie publisher.
Again, just my thoughts.

I find no reason to disagree with anything you have said. But let me throw this out there: perhaps we should pay more attention to anyone calling themselves a publisher. I'll buy the loose reasoning that if one does the things you mention they are "indie publishers." But are they really publishers? Do they really do ALL the things a legitimate independent publisher does or can do (e.g., promotion, marketing, distribution, press releases, sales force. foreign sales, deal with returns). So, maybe the problem is the word "publisher", although to be frank I don't know what they could or shoud be called -- indie (what).
 

kaitie

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Does an author who is vanity published actually call himself vanity published, though? Or self-published? Or just "an author?" I wonder on that one because it seems that vanity publishing was a way for people to look commercially published, or something that most scams fall under so the authors aren't aware of it (like PA). I might be totally misunderstanding, though, so I'm curious.

I think there are actually people who start up what is essentially a legit small press, and I don't really mind those people saying indie as much because if falls under the umbrella, imo. Though, I do have a problem with people who create a publisher in name only in order to look commercially published or to make it harder to distinguish as self-publishing.

However, I still think the term should belong to the original usage and that, while some self-published authors could potentially claim the independent publisher status, many also do not. In other words, not all self-published authors are independent in my mind.

Also, at what point would you no longer be considered independent? Maybe you buy an ISBN, but it's through Lulu or CreateSpace. Maybe you use their auto-formatting, or cover creation, or something of that sort. Does that still count as independent?

How does an author who pays to have a company design his book differ from an author who pays for a cover artist and layout design person and editor? Where do the lines get drawn?

The fact of the matter is that, much like "traditional" becoming the new "commercial," the word has pretty much already been used to the point that there's not going to be any going back. It makes me cringe every time I hear it, and I know I'm not the only one, but maybe in a year or two it'll be so commonplace that I don't even notice.

I still don't like it, though, for the reasons I stated in my previous post. I'd feel better if people used a word like "autonomous" instead that didn't already have a meaning. It would get around the dishonesty factor.
 

FocusOnEnergy

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"Indie writer" sounds to me like a hipper term for freelance writer.

I would agree with TrickyFiction. Why not just refer to the people who create written works as authors? Trying to draw a line in the sand between authors of self-published works and authors of commercially-published works doesn't make sense at a time when writers are crossing the DMZ and their work is being published both ways at once.

Based on what I've observed, the prevailing opinion of self-published material being crap isn't a stigma, but a stereotype.

Or as one of the commenters said, "Indie author, self-published, Corporate published. It doesn't really matter. It should be about the quality of the writing. Maybe if we all supported each other instead of bickering maybe our industry could grow instead of losing money every year."

What a concept.

Focus
 

Old Hack

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I do believe there's a difference between an "independent publisher" and an "independent writer," though. From what I've read self-published authors are using the term "indie writer" in order to emulate independent musicians and that whole sub-culture. In other words, I think they are self-published, independent authors... if that makes any sense.

Even if that were the case, it would still be confusing; but a lot of the new indie writers call themselves indie publishers.

Do you think it's because people genuinely don't get what the terms mean and they are confused?

Or do you think it's because it sounds more socially acceptable to say 'indie published' rather than 'self published' ?

I think it's because the people who came up with the idea to call themselves indie writers / publishers didn't know that there already were independent publishers, and even if they did, they didn't know or understand the definition.

Does an author who is vanity published actually call himself vanity published, though? Or self-published? Or just "an author?"

Many vanity published writers now insist that they've self published; pretty much all of the vanity presses now insist that they're providing self-publishing services, not vanity publishing. The distinctions are blurring, and I'm not altogether sure that's a good thing.
 

leigh78

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Back to – if the writer is literally doing the publishing (not hiring a vanity press) they would, in fact, be independently publishing. I do think some self-publishers have the right to be referred to Indie publishers or Indie writers.
 

shadowwalker

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"Indie publisher" for someone who is only handling their own work does seem a little... misleading. When I think of publisher, I think of an entity that's open to publishing a variety of works, not just one individual's. Publishing is their "focus", in other words, versus publishing their own stuff as a means to an end.
 

kaitie

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"Indie publisher" for someone who is only handling their own work does seem a little... misleading. When I think of publisher, I think of an entity that's open to publishing a variety of works, not just one individual's. Publishing is their "focus", in other words, versus publishing their own stuff as a means to an end.

Me too.
 

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I draw the same distinctions of "indie writer" with "indie artist" meaning not associated with a large or mainstream commercial venture. But honestly, I think it's a question of how many authors can dance on the edge of a pixel. Weren't some of us having this same conversation a few years ago when "epublished" wasn't "real" publishing?

These are all artificial divides between who's in the club and who should be turned away at the door, and honestly, the doorman's off-duty and the back door's unmanned and propped open with a brick. :D
 

MacAllister

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These are indie publishers.

Trying to call your self-pubbed book "indie-published" strikes me as (at best) completely clueless, uninformed, and utterly ignorant of existing industry standards--or otherwise, (and at the other end of the spectrum) downright deliberately dishonest. YMMV.

You can't just redefine terminology and industry jargon to suit your own purposes, no matter how much better you think it sounds to call your book "indie published" rather than "self-published." Indie published has a meaning already. I don't get to simply appropriate an industry term like "radiologist" because I used to shoot and develop the occasion X-ray for my veterinarian boss.

The difference is this simple: An indie-published book is a book someone ELSE in a not-one-of-the-magic-six publishing company believed in enough to pick up the tab, to produce and distribute. A self-published book is a book YOU pick up the tab to produce.
 
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ResearchGuy

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Many members (I venture to presume, from familiarity with some members, being a member, and years of membership in an affiliate) ARE self-publishers.

Some publish their own books and books by others. Some, presumably, only books by others.

--Ken
 

MacAllister

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You know what, Ken? If they're publishing someone else's book, then hey -- they're indie publishers, but that doesn't mean that their own books are indie published.

I'm a big believer in self-publishing, for some books, for some writers. I'm downright enthusiastic about E-books. I'm mostly hugely enthusiastic about writers finding their voices and finding joy in writing and in finding and speaking to readers, through their text. I've got no criticism for the choices people make around how best to do that, for themselves -- whether thats smashwords, a blog, a column in the local paper, or shooting for the NYT bestseller list. It strongly suggests that you've been published by a small press -- not your OWN small press --and that's an entirely different kettle of fish. One of the first things we look at, when investigating tiny publishing companies, is whether they only or primarily publish their own books or acquire other people's books and publish them -- and how well they publish those books.

But if you publish your own book, you self-published it.

If you have your own tiny publishing company and you put up the funds to publish and distribute someone else's book, then sure -- that book is indie published. But your own books are still self-published. That's NOT an insult, by the way, so I'm perplexed as to why people want to act like it is. It's a simple statement of fact. To call your self-published book "indie published" is misleading, inaccurate, and borderline deceitful, quite honestly.

It's language abuse to start trying to appropriate words that already mean something specific, just because you think it sounds better to say "I'm an indie author, my book is doing awesome!" than to say "I self-published my book, and it's doing awesome!"
 
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ResearchGuy

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. . .If you have your own tiny publishing company and you publish someone else's book, then sure -- that's indie published - but your own books are still, essentially, self-published. . . .
No argument from me. My own books are indeed self-published. I have also published a few books by others. And I intend to publish more books by others and to improve my methods -- sticking with POD, but (assuming LS approves my account) starting to use Lightning Source for better pricing and better trade availability. It has been a long learning curve, and recently some expenses for high-end software (dropped about $1250 on that over the weekend) and a block of 100 ISBNs. But I am not subtle: my name is in the company name. Sole proprietor and no disguising with any other publishing company name. But the columns that make up the bulk of my compilations were published in a local weekly paper first, so someone liked them.

BTW, I self-published and sell in the low single digits . . . but one step at a time.

--Ken

P.S. There is a reason why one of my blogs is titled "The Accidental Publisher."
 
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MacAllister

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Ken, hopefully you already know that I've got a hella lot of respect for you -- and you're one of the first people I think of immediately, when asked "who do I talk to about the realities of self publishing?"

You've worked hard at what you do, I know, and you're unfailingly involved and engaged in the ongoing conversation -- so I hope I've not offended you in any way. I appreciate your post indicating a need for clarifying my own point.
 
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