For Readers: What Are Indie Books?

As an Indie writer, I know all the ins and outs of Indie publishing. However, as a reader, you might not… which is why, dear friends, I am here to help you understand everything there is to know about this topic today!

Let’s just dive right in, okay?

Indie Books: In a Nutshell

To get to the bottom line first… indie books (or independently-published books) are books that are not published by a large publishing company. Instead, they are published by the author who wrote them.

Sounds simple enough, right? Well, dear readers… I mean, it kind of is, but it’s not always so cut-and-dry.

“Indie” Publishing Versus “Traditional” Publishing

Now, for the sake of simplicity, from here on out, I’m just going to use the term indie in this post–which is just short for independent. If you can keep up with that, you’re pretty much 58% of the way to completely understanding everything I’m about to share with you!

So, listen, in the current book publishing world, we tend to separate all books into two distinct categories: ones that are “indie” published and ones that are “traditionally” published. And I use quotation marks for a reason–because, again, it’s not always so cut-and-dry when it comes to what type of publishing is what. However, there are some general guidelines we authors tend to follow…

Indie publishing deals with an author taking full control of how his or her or their book is published. This means, instead of sending out a billion manuscripts to a bunch of publishers, authors just put their manuscript out into the world themselves without a middleman.

Books can be published the indie style through many websites like Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Google Play, and Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), among others.

Traditional publishing deals with an author sending his or her or their manuscript to either a big or small publishing house for editing, review, and potential future publishing. Until the great advent of the internet, this was pretty much the only way authors could be published, so that’s why we call it “traditional.”

Books can be published the traditional style through publishing houses like Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, and Scholastic, Inc., among others.

Now, here’s where it gets a little messy… some books today can be be a hybrid of being both indie and traditionally published. This happens when, say, an author gives the rights to a publishing house for a paperback or hardcover to be produced but reserve the rights for the digital ebook version of the book to be published in the indie style. Some authors also pick and choose which of their books they want to publish traditionally versus in the indie style.

Why Authors Choose Indie Publishing

Listen, I’m going to tell you this straight-up: I’m a full-blooded indie author, and I love it. So, for this section, I’m going to be biased and just tell you all the reasons why I’ve chosen indie publishing. No shame, y’all, no shame.

For one, indie publishing gives authors the full rights to their own books. In most cases of traditional publishing, authors are required to sign away their rights to their books to the publishing company looking to publish their books for them. This is a lot like music artists signing onto a record label that will then essentially “own” all of their creative work. Now, I know this is kind of a legal thing and can be confusing as a reader, but just think of it like this: signing away the rights to own your book is like signing off on someone else to take care of your own baby.

Okay, okay, that’s kind of an extreme example… and, yeah, you can totally feel free to laugh at me, but, sometimes, that’s honestly how signing away your copyrights feels like. And, anyway, aside from the slightly emotional part of it… there are some financial blockades that come along with it. Such as…

Traditionally published authors get only about 10% of the money made from their book sales while indie authors get upwards of 70%. This is, again, because traditional publishers get all of the rights to sell an author’s work for them, and the author later has no say in how much money they receive from their books’ profits. And, honestly, even if traditionally published authors did have a say in how much money they make off of their books… it would be impossible for the publishing company to give them what they want because the company has too many other employees and people to pay, too.

On the other hand, indie authors are technically self-employed, so they (usually) have no one else to pay after their books sell. Of course, the websites they sell their own books through are bound to keep some of the profits for themselves, but it is still much less than a traditional publishing company takes.

Indie authors also have total control of their creative work. I mean, obviously, they get to control what they ultimately write about, what they include in their books, etc… but they also have control over what the cover is going to look like and how they edit their book’s final form, and traditionally published writers don’t get these kinds of privileges. This is important because, if you may not already know, a lot of us writers are total control freaks–and I’ll admit this 100% about myself. You know, everything’s got to be the way I want it to be, not how some editor that lives 1,000 miles away and hardly even knows my name wants it to be.

Books that are published via the Indie route also tend to be published, like, 50x faster than other books. That means that you, as a reader, will see your favorite indie author’s books on the shelf over 6 months faster than you would your favorite traditional author’s books. This is kind of just because the nature of the traditional publishing process takes, literally, ages to get anywhere. There are just too many people involved in that process that, honestly, don’t need to be there slowing it all down. And, again, when an author goes the indie route, they get to do cut out all the slow-pokes in the middle!

For Readers: Why You Should Read Indie Books

Look, I’m not going to tell you what you should and shouldn’t read because, well, that’s extremely rude, isn’t it? And, of course, I’m not going to tell you to never read a traditionally published book ever again because, you know, those books deserve to be read just like any other book… but, I do want to tell you why I think you should add some more indie books to your diet!

All in all, you should read as many indie books as you can possible handle because:

  • You can get your hands on indie books faster than any other books since they are published faster and, often, more frequently (that means it’s even easier to binge a series, too!)
  • A good portion of indie books are digital-only, making them pretty dang environmentally friendly
  • Supporting indie authors is just like supporting small businesses–you are providing income to a hard-working independent writer who does not work for or follow the rules of big business!

Now, I think I’ve said my piece for today. Of course, though, if you have any questions for me, an indie author, about anything indie book-related, please leave me a comment below, and I’ll answer them for you!

And, you know… if you’re looking for a great indie book to start reading right now, consider checking out one of mine here!

Thank you for your time, dear readers.


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