Friday, February 15, 2013

The Indie Author Movement

I realized the other day that I have a bad habit of throwing around terms and phrases without fully explaining them. For many of you, you know enough about the industry to keep up with the terminology, but my goal is for everyone to get something out of these posts, regardless of how well read they are.

There have been several posts where I mention indie authors, self-publishing, and industry trends. Today I’ll discuss what this all is, and why it is important for writers seeking to publish a novel to know this.

What is the Indie Author Movement?
In order to answer this question, you need to know what an indie author is. “Indie” is the shortened version of “independent,” so an indie author is a writer that independently publishes his or her book. This means that rather than acquiring an agent and then acquiring a book deal through a traditional publishing house, indie authors front the costs themselves and publish their books on their own.

Make no mistake, this group of individuals cannot be considered bad writers like they might’ve been fifteen years ago. This group has expanded to include famous individuals such as Anne Rice, John Grisham, and Deepak Chopra. In addition, indie authors such as Amanda Hocking and E. L. James began as indie authors and went on to become national bestsellers.

 The indie author movement is a term used to discuss the shift that’s been occurring and continues to occur in the industry. An ever-increasing community of writers are taking their stories to businesses like Amazon (and Createspace), Smashwords, Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Lulu, where they can directly publish their books without going through the traditional gatekeepers.

What Does it Mean for the Industry?
It means more authors. It means shifting the focus from quality to quantity. It means worse grammar, punctuation, and orthography, but more original stories. It means the rise of online booksellers and the decline of brick and mortar bookstores. It means more e-books and fewer print books. It means that the world of traditional publishers will have to change or go extinct, and it means that new businesses that specialize in the indie author will appear.

It means that the reader is the ultimate judge of quality, not the industry experts. It means that authors can capture 70% of their profits, which in turn means that they can (and are encouraged to) sell books at cheaper costs. It also means that writers must aggressively market their book(s) if they wish to make a living off of it. The Internet may be the great equalizer, but it is also difficult to become visible.

You can be for this change or against it, but it’s happening.

What Does it Mean for You?
If you are seeking to publish a novel, then you have some big decisions ahead of you. You’ll need to decide whether you want to traditionally publish or go the self-publishing route. It means that you have options. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Check out both routes. This also means that, regardless of the route you chose, you should try to stay as up-to-date with the market trends as possible. The industry is changing fast, and it might result in important advantages and repercussions. Know what they are, so you can enjoy the advantages and avoid the repercussions.

What Should You Do about It?
Embrace it. The indie author movement is not going away. I don’t mean that you must become an indie author, or that you have to like it, but don’t ignore it. I’ve noticed many writers and industry experts underplay the impact of this movement and the value it has added to the literary world. This is no longer an illegitimate means to authorship, and it is no longer too small to be powerful. On the contrary, it’s blazing the trail that the rest of us must follow.

Happy writing,

Laura Carlson, Editor
American Editing Services

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