Saturday, February 18, 2012

Is Indie the New Black?

Is Indie the New Black?

Welcome to the 21st century where digital has taken over paper, where smart phones, tablets and eReaders are now necessities, and where do-it-yourself (DIY) means you’re cool.

2011 has marked the year of the publishing revolution. Thirty years ago, writers would wait years to hear back from an agent, only to learn their manuscript wasn’t good enough. Back then, self-publishing was considered taboo and most of the literary snobs looked down at the self-published authors who had no right to have their books published. It took Jane Austen fourteen years for her book, Pride and Prejudice to see the light of day. Fourteen years! I admire her perseverance and patience, but can you imagine if Jane Austen was alive today. Would she wait that long to have her book published by a traditional publisher, or would she jump in the band wagon and join the Indie movement? There must be a number of Jane Austen’s who tucked their manuscript underneath their bed accumulating cobwebs. It’s unfortunate they never got to share their story with the world.

Indie stands for independent, and used to be referred to authors published by small to mid-sized independent and university presses that don’t require an agent. However, a majority of authors have embraced the DIY movement which now classifies them as a Indie authors. An Indie author can get their book edited, formatted, designed, and have an ISBN just like a traditional author, but their books aren’t  displayed on the shelves of major bookstores.

2011 alone has been a phenomenal year for Indie Authors. The closing of Borders and Barnes and Noble bookstores has raised the demand for eReaders. We are seeing more bold authors embracing the Indie movement. The Amazon Kindle became the most sought after reader when they launched their first Kindle in 2007. The gadget was reasonably priced and soon consumers found it more convenient to download a book versus purchasing the hard copy. In terms of pricing point, eBooks are more affordable than paperbacks and hard bound books.

Amazon has played a major player in the Indie movement. They witnessed the demand in authors wanting to independently publish their books without paying upfront fees. They offered authors the option of having eBooks in a Kindle format, and launched Createspace which allows you to have a paperback copy of your book. Soon Barnes and Noble introduced the Nook tablet which gave readers the option to read in color. Independent Silicon Valley eBook publishers, Smashwords and Scribd gave authors the opportunity of uploading their books in different electronic formats without paying a fee. Amazon is now a major publisher.

 More authors are choosing to publish their book themselves. Reasons include, being able to have full control of their work and not having to wait years till their book is released. There has been a spurt of freelance graphic designers, cover artists, freelance editors who are offering their services to authors. The royalties go directly to the authors pocket with no middle men involved. There has been a stream of independent authors who are now Kindle Millionaires. Indie authors are pricing their eBooks much lower than traditionally published books. This has proven to be an effective marketing strategy for them to entice readers. Readers have discovered notable talent from Indie authors who had the courage to publish their books.

Virtual blog tours have taken over conventional face-to-face book signings. Book reviewers and bloggers can post reviews on their blogs and other sites. With the birth of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, authors can easily promote their books without leaving their home. Fans wanting autograph copies of their favorite authors can now use Kindlegraph for a virtual autograph.

Books, movies, and any form of entertainment will always be there. The method of delivery may not be as conventional as we’re used to, but they shall always be a part of our life. So this leads me to conclude that we live in an era of options and opportunities, where change is inevitable, and where Indie is the new black. Embrace it!