Monday, July 21, 2014

Do we need a new category?

Photo by jsorbieus via Flickr Creative Commons.
Last month, I wrote in this blog that I did not consider my books to be self-published because I did not do the work myself. In fact, a number of talented, creative and generous people made critical contributions to the development of all my books, as
  •           pre-publication readers (“beta readers”)
  •           editors
  •           proofreaders
  •           a cover designer
  •           marketing consultants.

I have said before, in this blog and elsewhere, that commercial publishers, big or small, hold no monopoly on quality books, electronic or print. Authors have more than one skill, and by collaborating, they can help each other publish books that meet or exceed the standards of Little, Brown, MacMillan or Knopf.

Exceeding their marketing and distribution might is another story, of course.

To me, a better term than “self-published author” is “independent author,” because I am independent of the control of any publishing company. No one tells me what to write, what to include, or what kind of cover to have.

But as readers of this blog will know, blogger, author and teacher Joshua Isard wrote that the term “independent publisher” is already taken. (I won’t quibble that I didn’t call myself an independent publisher, but rather an independent author. Oops, I guess I just did.)

The publishing landscape is changing fast.

Author and blogger Anne R. Allen wrote in her blog about the blurring lines between traditional, commercial and self-publishing. Not only is Amazon becoming a publisher, but the Big 5 have been adding self-publishing services as well as buying vanity presses—companies that charge authors (often thousands of dollars) to help them format, print and produce e-books.
(I will give you some free advice if you want some, or you can read this blog regularly).

As Anne concludes, the lines have always been blurry and they’re not getting any clearer.

But maybe “independent publisher” is the wrong term, simply because it doesn’t describe an idea clearly. Maybe we do need another term.

How about “collaborative publishing,” or “cooperative publishing”? Do either of those work better?

What do you think?


  1. Interesting concept but a name is just a name. Why not be an Entrepreneurial Author? That would be a writer who is willing to step outside the circle of writing and try something new - like editing, book cover design, publishing, etc. Is that food for thought?

  2. Anonymous6:09 PM

    I am sticking with Independent

  3. I sure appreciate my editor and the wonderfully talented graphic artist who designed my covers, it is a collaboration!