I have always loved reading. From the time I was a little girl, I had my nose in a book and my head in the clouds. When I was 15, I bought my first e-reader. It was a Kindle. This e-reader allowed me to discover a whole new world, the world of indie authors. Indie authors, or independent authors, are authors who have not gone through the traditional means to publish their books; they are self-published. Three of my favorite authors, Shelly Crane, Quinn Loftis, and Lila Felix, are all self-published authors.
An indie author and a traditional author both begin the publishing cycle the same way. He or she writes his or her novel and sends it off to the editor. This is where the first major difference occurs. A traditional author has an editor included in his or her contract. This contract spells out all the legalities involved with publishing the novel, including payment, editors, and rights of the book. An indie author has to pay out of pocket for everything, including an editor. This is one of the reasons indie published books have a bad reputation. Some authors cannot or will not pay for an editor and their novel ends up full of grammar mistakes and typos, making it a thoroughly unenjoyable read. The traditional author’s work, after the editing process, is sent to the publishing agent and the novel goes through a series of marketing campaigns before it is released to the public. Once it is released, the author receives his or her royalties from the book and the cycle begins again. For the self-published author, all marketing is on him or her and all marketing comes out of his or her own pocket. My favorite authors have blogs, Facebook pages, and Twitter pages that they use to promote their latest books. The best thing about self-publishing is that it is relatively instant. When going through a company like Amazon, all one has to do is upload the document. It takes five minutes to upload and it takes 24-48 hours to be officially published and to be sent worldwide, according to Kindle Direct Publishing. Authors who publish through Amazon have full rights to their works, can set their prices, can edit their books at any time, and receive up to 70% of royalties on sales to customers all over the world, including the US, the UK, Canada, Japan, Brazil, and France.
Many indie authors enjoy the freedom that sources like Amazon allow. These authors do not have to worry about losing the rights to their books like L.J. Smith, the author of the Vampire Diaries series, did. Many people believed that Macalea Smeltzer copied Shelly Crane’s novel Significance, with her novel Outsider. This was not the case; I have read both novels and while similar in concept, no plagiarism occurred. All novels in this genre have a similar feel. Even if Macalea Smeltzer did plagiarize, there is not a whole lot Shelly Crane could have done other than personally sue her. The traditional author has a safety net that the indie author does not, both financially and legally.
There is a stigma surrounding indie authors. Many believe that the reason these authors are self-published is because they could not get published the traditional way. For some authors, this is true. Shelly Crane could not get published the traditional way. On her blog she discusses how she got started writing and how frustrated she felt when she received rejection after rejection from different publishers. She decided to publish her novel herself and has been quite successful as an indie author. She was even offered a movie deal for her novel Significance! Other authors like Quinn Loftis started off writing as a hobby. She published her first few novels through Amazon and was so successful as an indie author, she was able to quit her full time job as a nurse and write full time. She went the self-published route, never imagining how successful she would actually become.
Just like Quinn Loftis’s and Shelly Crane’s books, Lila Felix’s books fall into the young adult genre and are clean. I love a good love story that focuses on love and is not explicit, either with language and with love scenes. Quinn Loftis has even been offered a deal with Clean Teen Publishing to write a viking novel involving Norse mythology. The novels written by these women are inspiring and show what true love looks like, creating fabulous examples for their younger readers. This fantastic little niche of a genre is my favorite genre to read from and it is a genre I hope to someday publish in.
Not only are these authors’ books well written, but they are relatively cheap as well. Quinn Loftis refuses to charge more than five dollars for a novel and many indie authors have similar policies. That is one of the perks of reading on an e-reader: cheap books. Indie published books are typically less expensive than traditional published books. The prices range from free to close to ten dollars. I have nearly 2000 books on my kindle and I have only paid for a small fraction of them. I check the kindle store on a regular basis to see what new free books have been added. I have gotten books by my favorite authors for free because I would check the store on a regular basis as well as follow their blogs.
Blogs are an indie author’s best friend. It his or her marketing tool and way of connecting with the fans. These authors don’t have a whole marketing team to promote their books; they have to rely on other indie authors and book review sites to promote their books. Social media is a key element in the indie author world. Many authors will do teasers, polls, and give-aways to keep their audience interested. The fans, myself included, are always excited when the authors post on their blogs and social media sites about new books and other book-related news. These news feeds allow their audience to be aware of what is going on in the indie world.
For some authors, like Quinn Loftis, this leads to writing novels for a publishing company. This is the goal of many indie authors. Even though they love being their own boss, the recognition and financial stability is always a nice reward for all of their hard work. Some indie authors refuse to go through the traditional publishing system, even if they are offered a contract. This is a small group of hard core indie authors that really love the world of self-publishing. I like to think of them as the hipsters of the literary world. They would most likely describe themselves as purists, because they are a group of individuals who want to have no part of the traditional publishing world. They stay purely in the self-published world and refuse to “sell out.”
Whether an author ends up in this indie world by choice or by necessity, he or she becomes a part of a unique niche in the literary world. It is a niche only recently created through the advancement of technology and the invention of the e-reader. From the time I was in fifth grade, I wanted to be a writer; I was always writing plays and stories in school and I have started many novels that I hope to someday finish. My experience with this portion of the literary world has absolutely inspired me. I have found this world to be friendly, inviting, and full of talented and creative people with beautiful stories to tell. I hope to one day join these authors in my own novelistic pursuit with my own self-published book.