Self and Indie Publishing

I’m interested in the potential of self/indie pubbing, particularly for doing some novellas or stories in my various worlds. I’m also interested in the idea as an industry changer, so I try to keep up-to-date. Anyhow, one of the things that I’ve encountered is that those terms are not defined as I expected. Which is to say, I made some assumptions about what the two terms meant and that everyone bought into the same idea. Turns out, not so much.

I essentially thought that the terms were interchangeable, and frankly, to me, they always will be. Independent publishing and self publishing are all about independently publishing your own work without a publisher. Which is to say, you take on all the roles of publisher yourself–editor, copy editor, designer, cover artist, and so on. Obviously you might and probably wouldn’t do all that work yourself; you’d likely hire out to someone who could do the work better than you. But in the end, you’re in charge; you’re the one who makes all the decisions.

What I’ve heard, though, is that Indie publishing refers to small press publishers. I just don’t buy that because no matter what size they are, they are still publishers. That means they acquire books, have editors, copy editors, and so on, and they contract with the writer for the right to publish the books. So to me, it’s not that they are independent, so much as just publishers. They may be smaller and more agile, but I don’t see them as exactly independent, except that they are not beholden to big corporations.

Obviously there will be others who disagree, and I’m willing to be schooled, so feel free. What do you think? Is there a difference? Is there another publishing term out there that I’ve not heard of at this point?


  • amelia bishop

    I thought that self/indie were the same as well. Maybe, though, “indie” can refer to the co-op type publishers that are really just a few authors who get together to pool resources?

    • Di Francis

      that could be. Though really, it’s still self-pubbing too, since the author is still in total control of the project. I guess I’m thinking in terms of who is control of and who is responsible for the final product. What do you think?

  • Suzie O'Connell

    this is my take on it: the terms are pretty much interchangeable now, though they didn’t start out that way, and weren’t that way even a couple years ago. From what I’ve heard and seen, “independent” USED to refer to small presses and author co-ops, where as “self-publishing” meant going it alone. Perhaps because of that, “Independent” or “Indie” doesn’t seem to carry the same stigma as “self-published”.

    Some now use the term “indie” to refer to writers who publish independently through the various platforms like KDP, Nook Press, Smashwords, iTunes Producer, etc., while they use “self-publish” to refer to publishing without going through the aforementioned avenues (such as selling files directly from their blogs and websites).

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