Thoughts on Indie and Self-published Books


Today’s post is brought to you by Sonya of the blog Sonya Cheney. I’ve been known to be a “snobby book jerk” too, so I’m glad to get a different perspective on indie and self-published books!

For a long time, I will admit, every time I heard the phrase “self-published,” it conjured the image of a poorly edited, highly contrived piece of writing someone was trying to hock through Amazon or their blog or what have you. Never mind the fact that I was already aware of self-published pieces of quality; I just couldn’t get that terrible stereotype out of my mind. Basically, I was a snobby jerk. It happens. What matters now is that I’ve gotten a little older, a little wiser, and a little better acquainted with the idea of independent and self-publishing.

It wasn’t until after my zine collection started to really grow that my negativity towards self-publishing started to truly fade. I began to realize that in this, one of the most basic levels of self-publishing, there could still be found amazing content–and often when the content is good, it’s easy to overlook editing problems, because, if you ask me, story and message are the heart, editing simply the extra polish. I write zines and know that with all the work that goes into them, they’re still not always perfect. Even traditionally published books have imperfections, and as we all know, there are plenty of traditionally published books that are subpar. (I’m looking at you, Fifty Shades.)

And now, as I write my own book, I consider self-publishing. I weigh the pros and cons because I’ve read glossy self-published books, messy blogs, and stapled pages of zines–and they all have their share of beautiful and ugly content.

Don’t they always tell you not to judge a book by its cover? Well, you shouldn’t judge it by the size of who printed it, either.

My own collection of independently/self-published books is small, and in the world of zinesters I’m sure my zine collection isn’t very large, either. However, I do have book recommendations (it seems I always have book recommendations when nobody asks me): Ragdoll House by Maranda Elizabeth and Taryn Hipp’s Heavy Hangs the Head. (They’re also both written by excellent zinesters.) Both books can be purchased directly from the authors, which is a smart choice because although it may be a little more expensive than, say, Amazon, but it ensures the most money goes to the authors, and isn’t supporting people’s art what we really want anyway? In a way, self-publishing makes that a little easier, with far less middlemen than traditional publishing.

I think overall the world of self-publishing is changing. I’m not the only person who’s always had that image of people publishing on their own because their work is bad, and I’m not the only person whose view is changing.

(Note: I tend to equate independent (“indie”) and self-published books, though I know there are certain subdivisions of large publishing houses that are labeled as independent. I’m by no means a publishing expert and still tend to get confused about those things a lot of the time.)

Sonya blogs about reading, writing, and being a zinester at Sonya Cheney. If you’re looking for a new book to read, wondering what the heck a “zinester” is, or curious what it’s like to be a newbie witch punk–or if you just feel like being a creeper and taking a look into someone else’s life–pop on over.