Two Types of Indie Publishing

Indie publishers. Indie authors. Indie publishing. What is it? How can we learn the secret handshake to become part of the indie crowd?

When I was first published nine years ago, I thought I was being indie published, and thus became an indie author. Why? Because I was contracted with small, independent presses. One hundred percent of my publishing contracts have been with three different small presses.

Later, I met authors who called themselves indie authors and they were publishing the books themselves.

Wait! I’m confused. What is indie publishing?

Unfortunately, there isn’t one uniform definition. Some authors, publishers, editors and designers consider small, independent presses a form of indie publishing. Other indie authors, who are independent of any press and publish their own books, say they are indie published.

Neither one is right. Neither one is wrong.

But they are NOT the same thing, either.

If you’re unsure which type is being referred to, ask.

Here’s what I’ve seen:

  • when people claim to be an indie author, they mean they are self-published
  • if they call themselves a hybrid author, they are self-published and published with a press, small or large

Small presses might refer to themselves as indie presses or indie publishers. They are claiming their independence from the three large publishing conglomerates in the US.

If those companies are indie publishers, wouldn’t that make their authors indie authors?

I would say yes.

And therein lies the confusion. I called myself an indie author because I was published with indie presses, but most people thought that meant I was self-published. Ugh!

Moving forward, I will use the more widely recognized and less confusing definitions for these terms:

  • Indie author: a self-published author, one who is the publisher of their own work
  • Indie publisher: a small publisher that pays royalties to authors for books they contract

By the way, I am an indie author these days. And I’ll have a new book release in May!

Does this pose clarify the indie publishing terminology for you? How might you define these terms?

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.