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Why is Indie Publishing looked down upon?

Indie publishing

Indie publishing is a term used interchangeably with small press, independent press, and self-published. Over time it has come to be used for anything that is not traditional press or, more specifically, one of the top five publishers in the industry. So why is Indie publishing looked down upon?

There is a wide range of publishing going on beyond the big five. Small presses and self-publishing have opened up opportunities for authors. Small presses open up niche markets, hybrid presses allow authors to decide how much control they want over the process, and self-publishing gets the work to the audience faster.

Whichever form of publishing you opt for, there are pros and cons to be aware of. Every publishing option requires a level of professionalism and marketing know-how. As an example, most authors new to publishing are not aware that even if they are published by a traditional publisher, they are ultimately responsible for their own marketing and success. The traditional publisher might be able to provide some marketing support, but the responsibility falls on the author’s shoulders.

Indie publishing

Who looks down on indie publishing, and why?

For those who interchange indie publishing with self-publishing, the critic is in the fact that anyone can upload a book to Amazon and call themselves an author, regardless of the quality. The platform has lowered the standard and allowed for the production of mediocre work. The term self-publishing has simply gotten a bad rap. Those who use the term indie publishing are often authors who have put a great deal of effort into their work and don’t want to be associated with the stigmas that come with self-publishing. But in doing so, the general public has begun to interchange the words as well while the traditional publishers stand on the sidelines.

The truth is that those who look down on indie publishing don’t truly understand what goes into making a book—especially creating a book that people buy. Sure, anyone can upload a book, but that doesn’t mean people will buy it. It takes a great deal of effort, marketing skill, and business know-how to bring a book to completion and then market it effectively.

When did Indie publishing start?

Indie publishing is much older than traditional publishing. People have been telling stories since the beginning of time.  The first “books” came about on Egyptian papyrus ( Block printing appears to have begun during the Tang Dynasty (around 868 A.D.) in China. What we now consider traditional publishing didn’t start until the invention of the printing press that was perfected and ready to use commercially by 1450. (

A few writers purchased their own equipment in the beginning to publish their works. It was a pricey endeavor, and not one anyone could undertake.

Then the digital tech revolution showed up, and suddenly storytellers had a global reach. It had an enormous impact on scholarly publishing as well as professional communication.

In 1979 Dan Poynter wrote and published The Self-Publishing Manual, the same year that desktop publishing (DTP) disrupted the publishing industry. While some believe the ebook was launched with .txt, .mobi, and .doc, the first one was actually published in 1930 (

Traditional appears to be a misleading statement because, in truth, small presses and indie authors have been around much longer than the top five.

When the word “indie” first appeared, it was a reference to small presses, the little guys who were shaking things up for the corporate giants. After five centuries of relying on the publishers who had access to the printing press, readers and booksellers were hesitant to accept anyone outside of their comfort zone. They labeled what they found comfortable “traditional,” and everyone outside became different.

What hurts the “indie” industry more than anything else

When writers get excited about putting out their work and don’t take the necessary time to make sure it is polished and ready for the market, the entire industry suffers. Sub-standard work adds to the stigma that self-publishing and indie publishing are fighting against.

You must take the time to have your writing professionally edited and read by beta readers beyond your immediate family. The book needs to have a well-thought-out and captivating cover along with a well-designed interior layout. You should also work to become a better writer so that readers look forward to reading your work. Learn about the industry and the proper way to market and promote your book. By doing this, it is a win for you and your readers.


Rick Lite of Stress Free Book Marketing, stands at the forefront of the ever-changing book industry. He is a seasoned book marketing professional with over 14 years of experience in the industry. Rick’s expertise comes from tirelessly working on new and innovative ways to market his own books and CDs with his company and parent company, Stress Free Kids. Embracing the core values of integrity, innovation, and growth, Rick works closely with authors to create custom, robust book marketing programs. His easy-going manner provides “stress-free” support and comfort to authors going through the book marketing process for the first time. Rick is quick to share his knowledge and “insider tips” for a successful marketing campaign that will lead to increased exposure, awareness and most importantly, sales.

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