What Is Indie?
Fuck if I know anymore. I used to think I knew, but now I’m not sure. (I see all of you clamoring to give me a definition. Go on. If you must.)
I guess I should explain what made me ask this question. You see, I’ve published books myself. I’ve had a publisher, although it was short lived and disappointing, and I’ve published short fiction with magazines and small presses as well. Recently, a couple of people said something like, “But I thought you were supposed to be Indie,” when I shared links to stories published in online magazines, implying that not publishing them myself somehow makes me not Indie.
I said, “Well, I am.”
What is Indie, though? What does it mean? Well, indie isn’t just self-published authors. I know some of you are confused by this. Hell, I’m confused. Has the definition changed? I didn’t get the memo, but then, I’m terribly disorganized, so it might be here somewhere.
My understanding of indie is that it means “independent.” So this means a self-published author or one published by an independent or boutique publisher. Small press. Not one of the Big Five or Six, or however many of those are left. Someone who self-publishes but also has a traditional deal is called hybrid.
The thing is, I don’t identify as ONLY indie. I’m hybrid, I suppose. In my head, I just use the term “author.” I’m an author. I write books. I like people to read said books. How those books get to the readers is really not important to me, as long as they get read. Publishers are awesome, because they take care of the tedious shit I don’t like to deal with, like formatting, cover design and finding my mistakes. Self-publishing is also awesome, because I’m in control. We know how much I like my control.
There’s so much stigma and judgment attached to both types of publishing. On one hand, we have these indie pricks with their low-quality, cheap books bringing everything down and ruining the industry for everyone. On the other hand, we’ve got these elitist traditional fuckers with noses stuffed firmly up their own asses. They think their shit don’t stink. Am I right?
None of that is true, of course. Each side struggles with stereotypes. I’ve dealt with self-pubbed authors (who believe indie means only self-pubbed authors) who basically call anyone who goes traditional for any reason a traitor. (A traitor to what, I’ve never been quite sure. The bloody battle for mediocrity perhaps?) Why would I give a cut of those two dollars to someone else? (Sarcasm) There are also hard-core traditional authors who will wash their hands of colleagues who try the indie waters. How dare they step down from the golden pedestal to slum it with the unwashed masses?
My point is this is all stupid. Why do we need labels? Yes, so the reader knows how you published… Is that really important if you’re putting good work out there?
I’m not ashamed of being an indie author. I take great pride in the fact that I conquered my fears of inadequacy and failure and published myself. I find no shame in being a traditionally published author either. I’m proud someone else sees value in what I’ve worked extremely hard to produce and are willing to put themselves out on a limb (even a short one) to help me get it out there.
Is there a problem with just calling ourselves authors and leaving it at that? I guess there is, because we’re all special snowflakes, blah, blah, and a label gives us a “place.” It helps readers know what we’re about and… I don’t know. Labels just define things, which, apparently, is very important.
No thanks. I’d rather be undefinable, because I’m the specialest of all the snowflakes. (More sarcasm.)
What do you guys think? As a reader, is it important to know if a book is indie or not? As an author, is there a reason you’d prefer to be considered one or the other?