Sunday, April 29, 2012


There is no code used in alternating the description of a self-published writer as an indie or independent. The moniker is accepted by other professions, such as by musicians, who had a similar problem with their industry and solved it by releasing their works by themselves. They didn't kill the mainstream issued music, but did gain respect and a just return for all those who produce it. The market evaluation is not provided by a bunch of  industry executives, but by the listening public, . This is not yet the case with independent authors.

The industry funnel is much too narrow to accommodate all writers who seek to be published. Therefore, one should not assume that the fact a manuscript wasn't "vetted" by an industry gatekeeper is to be considered inferior by definition. But the ease of self-publishing (in print and digital) enabled by new technologies, does allow books of lesser quality to flood the market along with many perfectly solid works.
To understand better where The indiePENdents. org and I as its founder stand: We are simply proposing  to separate the wheat from the chaff, by peer-reviewing indie titles which were not given access to the traditional publishing channels. To our surprise, we are encountered resistance to the idea from some indie authors; many are simply rugged individuals, but others may be driven by other considerations.

So far, bookstores and libraries have been accepting only books issued and recommended by the industry. Our aim is to certify, through panels of three reviewing peers for each submitted indie title, that the book with our Seal deserves a place on their shelves. 
We don't claim this as a right, but do want to level the playing field, which is not the same as asking for an entitlement. 
The economics we suggest are no less appealing than those bookstores get from the publishers. 
A consignment contract by which the indie author ships a requested number of copies at his/her expense, pays a stocking fee of $40 or so, and is responsible for the return of all copies not sold in six months. In the meantime, the bookstore retains 25% of the selling  price. I don't think "mainstream" is giving a better incentive to bring a book to the judgment of readers. 

Some marketers try to discourage consignement placement, claiming that the bookstore will favor titles from'mainstream' publishers the way supermarkets display their wares. I say that if the bookshop owner gets a comparable percentage of profits, with prices which are comparable, he will not spend time to hide 'self-pubbed' books in favor of  the 'pubbed' ones.

As an example: a writer strapped for money need only $115 to send 20 copies on consignment. He will get his total investment paid back after half of the books are sold.  Each additionsl copy brings him a royalty of about $10. Multiply this by a factor of x if the book takes off. 
If need be, sometime in the future, The  may consider finding sponsors for an escrow fund: it would lend authors seed money for the initial investment cost of consigning their books. We can call it  ABSOL ("A Book Send Off Loan") program until a good writer comes up with a better title.

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