Independent publishing doesn’t mean what it used to. When I started in publishing in 2000, indie publishers were simply non-corporate, or independently owned. The label was reserved for small traditional presses that wore the indie label with pride because of what “indie” signifies, then and now—a spirit of independence, of course, but also of not needing approval or to operate within the parameters of the existing paradigm.
But we’ve entered a new era of publishing since 2000, and today when people talk about “indie” authors, they’re talking not about authors published on small presses but about a thriving movement of self-published authors who are green-lighting their own work and riding the wave of a movement that’s far from peaking.
That traditional small presses are unhappy about the appropriation of their term is beside the point—this new understanding of indie authorship is already the new normal. And the indie movement is gaining strength as already established authors self-publish their projects, whether because they’re being shut out of an industry that once welcomed them, or because a given book they want to publish can’t find a home, or because they want more creative control.