What makes an author an indie?

I have only recently spent time thinking about the meaning of the word indie when applied to authors. Before I self-published, I heard more of traditional and self-published, and very little of the word indie. But, I keep hearing it more and more these days and after I looked into its usage and meaning, I realized that hearing more of this word is a good thing.

Like any other word, there are a lot of interpretations of indie. The way I like to think – it is all about creative control over the process of getting your product (book/books) to the consumers (readers). If you have direct control of said product from conception to marketing, you are an indie.

I have come across a lot of opinions – I have friends to whom being an indie means having done everything (editing, cover design, promotions) on their own, without help from anyone else. It is a purist’s definition. A lot of authors, sometimes either due to the lack of expertise or time or both, approach self publishing companies. Does it make those authors less of an indie? I do not believe so. Not unless they have given up that directorial control over their product in the process.

When working on my debut novel, I had quickly figured the need for a good editor. Allison Itterly, my editor, did what I could not. I wanted illustrations for my book, which I clearly could not do myself. Nora Meek, my illustrator helped me out with those. Next came designing the layout – I love formatting my own books, I have enjoyed designing covers as well. So, I did those myself. Overall, although I did not use a self publishing company, I did partner with people who had specific expertise.

The process will get even more partnership dependent this year. I had more time to spare and the energy to expend on these various facets when I was working on just one book. Now, the more I get into marketing and writing sequels and a multitude of other things to continue publishing more books, I am being drawn by the idea of getting more help. In addition to editing and illustrating help, I will likely want someone to design the cover of my second book. I have started thinking along similar lines for marketing/promotions as well. I am mulling over divvying up the promos – parts of which I could do myself and then get help when I need.

Will such outsourcing make me a non-indie? I think not. As long as the vision and control remains mine, I will remain proudly and fiercely, an indie author.

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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Posted in on etceteras, on writing

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