Getting Used to the Phrase "Indie Writer"

When an artist creates, he leaves the world of labels behind, leaves them behind to his creative process. Painters want their paintings seen and sold, poets want their poetry read and purchased, musicians write to perform and make records (and a living)…  I don’t believe a writer starts out thinking of himself as an “indie” writer.

That label becomes attached to us because we were not successful eliciting an agent’s interest, or the agent wasn’t successful eliciting a publisher’s interest. 

In my case it was the former. I tried and tried. I wrote and rewrote my book. I put it down for months at a time, I had others read it and comment on it (some young some old, some female, some male) and then went back with a new fresh pair of eyes (same eyes, but fresh) and as a more evolved writer. I spent much time writing a proposal, and then hired somebody to evaluate it. Then I decided to self-publish.

I bought my Bowker ISBNs as part of my company, which publishes educational software. Thus, it was easy to get my own ISBNs and have my company formally registered as a “publisher.”

I followed the advice, regarding reviews. But try as I may to get book reviews from periodicals such as the Boston Globe (our local paper) and others, I was told “We don’t review self-published books.”

“Why is that?” I asked.
“We don’t review books where the editorial decisions are all made in-house by the same house as the writer belongs to.”

“But my book was professionally reviewed by published writers, by poets, by university professors of writing.” Isn’t this what any big house publisher would do?

It didn’t matter. That was the first time I realized that I was now collared by that title, Indie Writer.

Is it so bad? Maybe it’s a badge of honor. I wrote a really good book. I had everything about it done professionally. I had teenagers read it and provide me detailed feedback, and adults read it and provide me detailed feedback. I had educators, poets and people in the publishing business read it and provide me feedback, which mean more revisions. People really like the book, even people who never met me, even people who didn’t have dogs or particularly like dogs. Since the book was published, I’ve had great reviews from organizations and publications that will review independently published books. AND I’m not giving up.

Unfortunately we indie writers have a different battle to fight, whether it’s being able to show our book at a table at a book fair, or being able to get our books into libraries. I’ve had some success there but I have also been met with the words “We don’t catalog Indie books.” I have been able to get reviews which have been positive from major magazines, so many of the steps that drive the marketing of publishing houses .

Maybe we Indie writers are “Indie writers” by virtue of being the other, belonging to the other club, but we still, in the end, are writers. 

And there are many of us!


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