As the Author and Publishing Worlds Turn, the words “self” and “independent” have almost become interchangeable. There is a difference, agreed, a fine line at times. What is independence in publishing?
A self-published book can mean almost anything … from what gets spilled out of the fingers and mind of the author to the presentation from the local printing shop and sometimes looking like it was put together at the kitchen table with a glue-stick; to a vanity press like a LuLu, AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris (avoid them all and their kindred); or an Outskirts Press that offers different types of packages/templates for the author to select from; to IngramSpark’s entry that opens up bookstore buying and global distribution with excellent POD quality (truth–most bookstores do not want to buy from Amazon’s CreateSpace); to the author doing the publishing himself with his name or a “looks like a publishing company” name on it.
For me, self-published is self-published—not a huge amount of money is expanded; the author has his toe in the publishing water to see if there is a nibble or two. The quality of layout, paper, and cover design is all on a lesser scale; the print run is low—ten, a hundred, maybe a few hundred copies. More like a hobby—one that is loved, just not a career.
The independent author is one that has stepped away from the traditional publishing format that has been shaped by New York. The Publishing Siren has beckoned and the writer has decided to pursue the path doing it solo—it doesn’t mean he or she is any more or less talented/creative than an author who seeks out a traditional publisher.
Is there some stress sprinkled in? You bet—and it comes at various times and degrees. Authors who choose this path MUST have the time, energy and money to support their vision and passion. They must do a reality check to determine if the vision can developed roots and be presented as initial seen, or does it need to be tweaked a tad. They must have trust with who they are working with and understand that it’s a giant type of book stew—some components need searing; some need extra simmering; others a full-blown boil—and at different times. It all adds to the stress factor. Breathe.
An independent published book/press means that that the author is fully committed—has expressed his “independence” from others in control and is taking over—with his time, energyand money. A publishing company is created that is privately owned and answers to itself. Various publishing professionals are engaged to do the work needed—editing, covers, interiors, print, cartoonists/illustrators, book shepherds, marketing strategists, Internet book launches, publicity, Social Media geek wonders to build the crowd to connect to, etc.—whatever it takes to produce the “product”—the book and get it out there. Breathing need here, too.
Let’s not leave out independent bookstores. Finding one, like the Tattered Cover or the Boulder Book Store in Colorado, is a Mecca for authors and readers alike. The stores don’t have to answer to a corporate dictator—each can work with the locals, meaning authors, publishers and reader/buyers. Certainly, an independent pays attention to what’s happening with the big boys—but if creative and buyer sensitive, an independent bookstore can be very successful.
The independent author/publisher/bookstore answers to him, her, itself. Free to choose which way, which direction to go. A very cool thing this 4th of July Holiday week—wouldn’t you agree? Have a grand one everybody.