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Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

I don’t like the title “Indie” and never have. I didn’t like it even before I started writing seriously again and when I hear the phrase my gut reaction is negative.

I tend to make assumptions of quality and content.  Completely unfounded and probably flawed but I still make them. I make a negative supposition of “coolness” too. I think that whatever the content, it will leave me cold, it will be too out there or pretentious.

Why would you classify yourself as an “Indie” Author? Why are you not just an Author? Let’s face it in today’s modern publishing world, even signed with an Agent and a publishing-house; you are going to do the majority of things that a self-published so-called “Indie” author has to do anyway.

Why would you label yourself with something that has little or no “brand equity”. Look you may have written the next seminal novel, with perfect grammar and spelling, a great plot and no major issues and you may know several excellent other Indie Authors and that’s all well and good.

Now imagine you are selling yourself as an “Indie” author. Does the customer take a risk on your book when they’ve read something else “Indie” and have received a poor quality product? What about paying it forward you ask? What about supporting other writers? You can still support them without having to form a special club about it.

That’s the reason I will call myself a writer and not an indie writer. I am not a fan of clubs or labels or tags of any sort. When it comes to my work – it stands alone. I don’t care if you are into supporting other Indies, if you want to support my work and review it that’s great but don’t just support me anyway. Don’t just put me on your bandwagon without reading the work first?

I get so annoyed with all the support Indie Author dribble. What is different about an Indie Author, why should I choose to support them? What is it about that “Name” that makes it worthwhile? Don’t they whine an awful lot and get into arguments with their readers when they leave less than five-star reviews?

I do support other writers who are struggling with their journey; whose work I read and respect but not because they are an Indie. I support what I like to read. I support a quality product.

So please get down off your soapbox about being an indie and tell me about your work, your story, your characters. As a reader I am not really all that interested in you. However, I am interested in your novel.

But beware if you make a big thing about being Indie –I may just go read something else.

Hatemail – Comments, are as always, welcome.

EDIT* – May help you to know that I will self-publish – I am just not going to talk about being self-published. Because it’s not a badge to wear, it’s just the process I will use to get my work out to the readers. (If they’ll have me.)

23 thoughts on “WHY I WILL NEVER BE AN INDIE

  1. Wow, this is so timely. I’ve recently gotten a bit discouraged with the query/submission process (though I have had some personal, postive feedback from respectable houses/conversely BS from some glommers, and lotsa cold shoulders) There is one house that doesn’t accept stuff till Septemeber, and other than that–and what’s out there–I am starting to think I should pub already, but I also have lots of reservations. Are you saying you’re completely against it (for yourself as a personal choice) or that you keep it on DL? Perception check. Okay. Outsatnding write, that makes me think (again!) Sarah! Well written and good handling of delicate te topic, for sure!

    • I will probably self-publish but I am not an “Indie” author. I will just be an author. I get really tired of all the Indie Hype. I am completely 100% for self-publishing. I am 100% against all the fuss and stating everywhere that you are self-published (readers just don’t care, they just want an interesting and enjoyable product). I think the distinction between a trad published work and setting out your stall as an Indie is ridiculous. If I were you, which I am not, I would self-publish. There is no reason other than “acceptance” or “validation” that is stopping you. You may have to pay for copy-editing and a critique. Use beta readers (trust your instincts). Get some graphic design friend you can bribe to do you a professional cover and start earning some money from your work. I guess what I’m saying is. Why would you not? You earn more money, you take creative control of your work and you learn new skills! Hope that makes sense?

  2. You are brave. I agree with you utterly. All I care about is whether or not my writing is any good. When it is I’ll shoot for great. Publishing anything less, just because you can, misses the point. You can call yourself whatever you want, I guess. One of my favorite writers calls himself a Hackie because he also drives a cab. By the way, I could see your eyes rolling the whole time I was reading this……;)

  3. I am so glad to hear this … I know I am old fashioned in this young and fast world of ours, but I never cease to believe that the actual work, the actual writing is THE ONLY thing that matters. Everything else is simply marketing, and ‘tribe’ creating exercise that rests on the age old philosophy (only now re-packaged for the cyber world) of ‘if you scratch my beck, I will scratch yours’. And so it goes … today writers are lead to believe that they have to build ‘tribes’ of followers, create marketing strategies, create strong internet presence, to, ultimately, make them and their marketing gurus pots of money as soon as possible … so there is no wonder that they have neither time not energy required to craft delicate sentences and vivid, captivating imaginary. At the end all it emerges is hard core promotions of, at best, mediocre work.
    Well Done

  4. We do seem to have the need to label everything and I’ve alway through the term indie was never the right one for a writer. While it’s an individual process, unless I’m printing and selling from my boot, I’m in collaboration with many other people to get my work out.
    I’m not more or less likely to read a novel from a publishing house or self published, as I’ve recently read some rather good work on each side.

  5. Hi S.J……Sounds like you have come to a decision point about publishing. That’s a good starting point. I will say that I agree with your assessment about “Indie.” I have never been much of a “joiner” when it comes to loose knit associations or clubs of any sort. I don’t need the hassle or the time requirement that is incumbent upon the members of these organizations. In addition, I hate labeling things or people. The minute you think you have a good working assessment of a person (enough to label him/her…), something comes along to change your mind. So, why bother?? Indie…so okay, its a term. Does it define me or you?? I will speak for both of us here and say “hell no.” There are only two things that should be important and defined by this discussion. One is your work and the other is your name……Oh, I guess prospective readers are a third, but they should take solace in the first two… 🙂

    Be well

  6. I’m still unsure as to why, but every time I see the term indie, I tend to think about hippies lounging around beneath a tree singing some out of tune version of the Beatles, expecting everyone to understand their lack of logic and reasoning within the world around them.

    As for labels: I still say labels are better used when it comes to marketed goods. I do tend to label myself, though. The label I give myself? — Me.

  7. I’d never heard the term “indie writer” until this post. Interesting…why would anyone want to limit their genre/audience to one that has nothing to do with their writing, just their publishing mode? (Is that considered an “Indie” writer?) Jane

    • I am surprised you had never heard the term but it tends to be a very popular badge for many writers who are engaging in self publishing (which I whole heartedly support). What I am against is the hug an Indie club that has sprung up around the term. So you self publish? Who cares? Is your book any good, because that is what a reader will want to know.

  8. Stories of how a writer goes about publishing can be interesting and informative for other writers assessing their own options. However, the on-going putdowns of other writers for the choices they make are getting tiresome. The battle between the traditionally published and self-published just seems to keep going. Sigh. How sad to see a variation on this theme in the form of criticising writers for the way they choose to describe themselves. Maybe I haven’t read enough on the subject because I’ve missed “all the support indie Author dribble.” I’m not going to say anything more now; I have writing to get on with.

  9. I have never heard the term either and after reading and reading the comments and googling, I still don’t know what it is. 😦

    Since I don’t know what it means…….I guess you know…”Why I will never be an indie.”

  10. I have kinda felt the same about that term. To quote Matthew Reilly (of the Scarecrow books) quoting someone else in his interview at the back of his book Area 7: “There’s no such thing as an aspiring writer. You are a writer. Period.” The guy was obviously American – we call them full stops – but anyway, the point is you are an author – or a writer, whatever – irrespective of what or how.
    It seems the same applies to Indie. By the same token should one label themselves as a traditionally published author? In the unlikely case where the publisher doesn’t want to splash their name across the bottom of the back cover, the author probably shouldn’t make a point of it either.
    Some might argue there’s a certain credibility that comes with traditional publishers because someone with skills and experience has validated your work as being worthy of their investment in it. Maybe this is true but it doesn’t mean any work that hasn’t passed this test for whatever reason, including lack of time or effort on the part of agents or talent scouts, is not of the same standard.
    But I agree that one probably shouldn’t label oneself as Indie, in particular not market themselves as Indie.
    When my novel is eventually finished I may or may not be “traditionally” published just as I may or may not be indie published (perhaps both is possible if the latter leads to the former as was the case with the aforementioned Matt Reilly) but I think I’d rather let the reader figure that out for themselves. If they care.

    • Hi Richard, I think you put it perfectly! This was a little bit of a rant from my side. I have been writing and blogging again seriously after a good decade of break. When I started this whole process again, I was initially overjoyed at finding there was now a way I could get my work out to Readers without having to wait years and/or having to change things creatively to fit. I then started to get a little nervous after seeing some of the forums on Amazon with readers talking about self-pub. Being personally regularly spammed on Twitter “buy my book, I have ten 5 star reviews” with the price point of the books “on a downward spiral”.
      I was also very surprised to keep reading articles by Indie Authors about how important it was to socially connect to readers and tell them things about yourself and how you had to price low… Ya da, Ya da. I have read in the last ten days no less than thirty blog posts/articles lecturing readers (are these people insane?) on how they should be grateful to the Author and how terribly hard it is to write a book and how they should leave five star reviews as we don’t get paid very much!
      Thanks for commenting, personally I am probably going to open my own publishing house for writers like myself. In for a penny….

  11. I’ve struggled with this and you make great points that almost make me want to drop the term “indie” today. Almost. I’ve felt similarly about the term “self-published”. The pinnacle of self-publishing arrives when the fact that it’s self-published is invisible and irrelevant. I’m on a slightly different track, legitimizing my writing as “publishing” (not merely self-publishing.) My reasoning is that I do most everything a traditional publisher does. However, I’m not ready to give up the indie label. Though I look forward to that happy day when “indie” is irrelevant, it’s not irrelevant yet because fellow indie authors have helped my book sales. Indie is an entry point, not just in exchange of information, but in gaining my first readers. My books aren’t a plague infection yet, but my virus spreads through the indie vector initially. This proves tribalism is both pragmatic and awesome except for all the many times it’s horrific.

    I look forward to feeling so comfortable with readership growth that I can safely ignore the roots of the process, but there is something more to indie spirit. To do this does takes an extraordinary level of entrepreneurial spirit (as Sue Grafton’s whiplash demonstrated recently.) Talent and craft are paramount, of course, but that engine has no gas without marketing. There are so many voices, it’s hard to hear my particular song. My indie friends have been a powerful amplifier to get more people to listen. Down the road, that label won’t be as useful, but we recognize each other through that label. I’m not looking for pity or pity sales, but allies in a struggle. That struggle is not against traditional publishing. The struggle is to write good books and have them read. Indie has helped get a toe-hold in getting read. It’s not the best marketing strategy and it should never end with writers marketing solely to writers (unless they’re writing about writing.) Indie is not, fortunately, the only vector, but it’s almost always the first way to infest the population.

    The next step, beyond discovery and the spreading word, are readers who, like you, don’t care about the stuff that happens behind the scenes. Until then, price point experimentation, finding allies and showing some personality in The Great Id (AKA the Internet) are required to build that pool of readers of which all writers dream. It’s going to be wonderful to hit critical mass. Once word of mouth kicks in, it is about the writing alone. I so look forward to the day when I can stop pretending to be an extrovert. The cheese stands alone, but only at the end of the song.

    Good post. If I were braver or had a time machine, I’d be in your boat and rowing away from the indie wreckage already.

    • Hi Chazz, There are some wonderful supportive and creative “Indie” writers out there who do everything they can to support other talent. I have read your collection of short stories, downloaded for free and they were superb. You remind me of another very famous writer who writes about small town America goes by the initials S.K. Anyhow, I take all your points on-board and I am glad it’s worked for you personally as a way to get your work out to readers. I think I am a little late in the game to be leveraging anything out of the “Indie” movement and with even respected self-pubs now admitting they paid for reviews, you could say I am in the boat and starting the engine. I will still self publish and luckier than some as I have worked in marketing for the last ten years and very specifically in the last three of four – market research. My expertise? What makes consumers recommend their customer experience with your brand to others. I know I will have to be creative and inspired (the work needs to be bloody good as well) and a bit like Baldrick, I have a cunning plan…. I absolutely loved receiving this comment, oh and by the way if the quality of your novels are the same as the short stories, I have no hesitation in buying your work at any price-point.

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