Independent publishing, also called self-publishing or indie publishing, is a broad term generally used to distinguish publishing activities not performed by a commercial publisher. Generally print runs in this sector are small or even non-existent as some independent publishers choose to release their offerings solely in electronic formats (ebook, Amazon Kindle etc.).
There are exceptions to this assumption though. Some independent publishers have managed to sell substantial quantities of their independently produced books and many commercial publishers are reducing the size of their print runs as they struggle with book sales. Many people have predicted and continue to predict the demise of the commercial publisher, to be replaced by an army of independent publishers. This is an extreme view but one thing is for certain – the publishing world is changing, often moving in new and exciting directions.
With tools and services now available it is possible foranybody with advanced computer skills and some knowledge of how book publishing works to put together a professional looking product on their personal computer. Specialised services that may be required like cover design or professional editing can be contracted in. There are many people with specialist skills working on a freelance basis all over the world. Service providers will print the book, list it on their website & facilitate sales – including processing payments.
How does this affect the ordinary person considering independent publishing? While it is not impossible and has happened before, the odds of an independently published, marketed and distributed novel or other book going on to outsell those produced by large commercial publishers are slim. The real value of independent publishing is that it gives a voice to those who would otherwise be able to get into print. Independent publishing should not be used to market sub-standard work. A bad book is a bad book regardless of how it is produced.
There are, though, some types of subject matter that lend themselves to independent publishing and would be unlikely to be accepted and produced by a commercial publisher. Some examples of this would be:
- Personal memoirs or a life story being produced for a small group of family, friends etc.
- Material of a highly technical or specific nature that is of interest in a particular industry or business but not of much use outside of that sphere.
- History of an organisation or person, e.g. business, club, society or movement and/or the founder or leader of such an organisation.
- Material produced by a trainer, motivational speaker or religious personality.
These types of material often have the advantage of a ready and easily accessible market, for example a motivational speaker having a pile of his books available at the back of the room after a presentation. This type of selling can overcome the single biggest challenge independent publishers face – marketing.
Darrell Cuthbert is a South African freelance writer, blogger, social media enthusiast and general life addict.
He writes both fiction and non-fiction, the latter focused on combining his writing skills with his 17 years of experience as a manager in global corporates to provide innovative solutions for his clients.
Visit his websites to find out more:
[http://www.darrellcuthbert.com] (Personal) or
http://www.wordtiffie.com (Commercial Writing)
Darrell is based in Durban, South Africa.