Indie v Self-Publish? What is the difference?
Does it matter?
The question is asked every day, and begs for an answer.
It’s been more than a few years since authors found easier ways to put their own books on the shelves. Vanity publishers have been on the scene for a while longer. Of course various organizations have long utilized different methods to print their club handbooks or fund raising cook books. And schools publish their own yearbooks. Did you know that the oldest and most successful self-published book is The Kelly Bluebook? But the real bloom in self-publishing occurred with the advent of platforms such as CreateSpace, an Amazon company – founded in 2005, quickly followed by Smashwords in 2008, Kobo, 2009, Lightning Source, which also lets the author publish a hardback book, and a zillion more that I cannot even name.
With the ease of templates, inexpensive photos or art for book covers, and the help of forums, a person can write the story of their dreams, click a few buttons on the program, and voila! A new book is born unto a heart filled with dreams of fame and fortune.
That, in a nutshell, is self-publishing.
The problem is that often the hopeful but inexperienced author will become impatient and skip a few important steps, such as edits and revisions. And this very often results in what could have been a great story, but is filled with a multitude of errors to include flat characters, empty settings, plot holes, or no plot at all. And poorly written books flooding the market has given self-publishing a bad name plus a stigma which is proving difficult to overcome.
To make the issue even worse, companies have sprung up which promise the self-publisher all the glory of seeing their book in print – at a cost. Those companies will not be named in this article, but anyone can Google “self-publishing” and find them. They have various ‘packages’ running from a few hundred dollars to thousands. They promise to design you a cover which will grab attention, help with the blurb on the back, even help with promotion and marketing.
However, sad experience has shown me that the covers are often digital [fill in the expletive] which is usually garish and doesn’t reflect the story at all. The marketing involves someone asking the author to list places in their area like restaurants and bookstores or libraries which would host a book signing, and then they will ask the author to draft a letter to these businesses for them to go over. And do NOT get me started on formatting the interior.
Granted, there are hundreds, rather thousands, of outstanding books written by exceptional authors on the shelf through self-publishing. I have shown people how to publish their family histories or fund-raising cookbooks – with the intention of distributing to their own people. I’ve helped teachers learn to use this platform in their classrooms to encourage lifetime writers, readers, thinkers, and book lovers. And I’ve used it to print workbooks.
Self-publishing has a very important place in our world.
Independent publishing takes on a different air altogether. It is a business model. If you consider what the ‘Big 6’ publishers do, and scale that back a tad, add a DBA (Doing Business As) for your company’s name, a business license for tax purposes, and plan for all the steps involved in publishing, you have an independent publisher.
The steps? If you are reading this you likely already know the writing process: fast write and idea blast, rough draft, edits and revisions, first draft, critique readers, edits and revisions, content editor (paid), revisions, beta-readers, more revisions, line and content editors (highly paid), another round of revisions (by this time the author is genuinely sick of this particular story), back to the proof reader (paid) back to different beta-readers for written reviews, and then – off to the printer. Don’t release that book just yet, order a few proofs and send them to yet a new set of readers – and the proof reader. Make your final corrections (and fully understand that you still missed at least four glaring errors), upload the final file, and when it clears the auto-checks, you are finally ready to put a book on the shelf. A book which has gone through all the steps as any traditionally published book.
Have you ever wondered why it takes so danged long for your book to be published once it graces the desk of an acquisitions editor?
The independent publisher is all of this with marketing and promoting added on at the end. He or she has total control of every book, and the potential to pocket more money than with traditional publishing in today’s market. But, the independent publisher wears all the hats of every department in those big houses. And he has to do all the paperwork.
Is there a difference?
But, yes, it’s all in the attitude the author takes with him or her to work each day.
You can see my Indie books on Amazon, Published by Mrs. Piddles Publishing