I follow a bunch of indie publishing blogs. I follow even more indie publishing folks on Twitter, so I wind up reading (or at the very least skimming) a lot of posts about indie publishing. Something I have noticed lately is that there are certain groups who are looking at previously traditionally published authors who have turned around and self published their backlist (because they got their rights back) being referred to as indie authors. This isn’t new material. It’s stuff that somebody, somewhere in New York decided once upon a time was good enough.
Frankly, it kind of bugs me.
Now don’t get me wrong, authors who have the rights to their backlists should ABSOLUTELY be republishing those books themselves. It would be stupid not to in a market where they are getting less and less from their New York contracts. Self-publishing provides a passive income stream that no author should pass up if it is available as an opportunity. But do these people deserve the title “indie author”?
I have no beef with people who follow Joe Konrath’s example. He self-published his backlist and has put out scads of new material. It’s the new material part that makes him an indie author in my mind. He’s taking traditional publishers out of the equation. But to authors who haven’t done that? Who are taking previously published works that were edited and copy edited by someone else in New York as part of the big publishing machine and just essentially clicking a few buttons to put it out themselves. To me, this does not an indie author make.
Being indie means bypassing tradition. It means making sure that your work gets the attention it needs from crit partners, editors, etc. It means either doing the work yourself or hiring someone to do some of it for you (i.e. copy editing). And I kind of feel like until these authors take the plunge and put out something NEW that New York has never had its hands on, they haven’t earned the right to be called “indie”.
Of course, this all presupposes that they even WANT to be known as indie. A lot of them probably don’t because they still see some stigma involved. Joe Konrath the multitudes are not. But that’s a whole other kettle of fish.