As the Author and Publishing Worlds Continue to 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 for today’s author?
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/Solutions (known to many as publishing predators); or any of the pay to publish operations that claim to offer different types of packages/templates for the author to select from as well as claiming to do more personalization and hand-holding than a vanity press operation; to Amazon’s CreateSpace and the Ingram Spark (higher quality); to the author doing the publishing himself with his name or a “looks like a publishing company” name on it (always recommended).
This is the author who starts things/acting that a new business and growing!
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, energy and 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 that I enjoy, 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. Every state has a book store that shines above the crowd … find yours, celebrate it’s independence and success … and buy books from it.
Judith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd, a book publishing coach and the Founder of AuthorU.org, a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. She’s the author of 31 books including Author YOU: Your Guide to Book Publishing and Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Author U–Your Guide to Book Publishing on the www.TOginet.com Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and TheBookShepherd on Facebook. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact her at Judith@Briles.com.