Stick a Label on It?

Happy Tuesday, all! Sorry for the late posting — the site seemed to be down for most the morning. Wishing everyone on the east coast of the US and those in central Canada all the best in dealing with Sandy.

Yesterday, I posted a column on the Alliance if Independent Authors on why I don’t want to be labelled by reader as an indie author. It generated interesting comments, and I’d love your take on it, too! So without further ado…

Ever since leaving behind traditional publishing to strike out on my own, I’ve been clear on one thing: I don’t want to be known as an indie author.

Well, maybe I should revise that: I don’t want to be known by readers as an indie author. Fellow colleagues can (and probably do!) call me what they like.

We’re all aware of the divide between those on the traditional side and those who’ve self-published. Although the gap is closing as more authors dabble in both and self-publishing success stories filter through, fewer subjects than the ‘proper’ way to publish have drawn more emotional responses from authors, agents, and editors alike.

Strident cries have echoed across the internet, each camp claiming they’re the only route to take. But all this exists within the rarified air of the publishing industry – and that is not my target market.

Sure, I’d love for the industry to have an open mind; to recognize that some authors do have the skills to succeed, and that it might make better financial sense to go it alone. But what’s of real importance to me are those on the receiving end of the product line: the readers.

They’re not bothered by the upheaval happening now; they could care less about labels being attached to authors. What they want is a quality story for a good price, not the rigmarole of how it’s been published.

In this new democratic market, where authors are businesspeople with more choice than ever before, every book has the potential to be equal in the eyes of the reader.

Why demarcate ourselves when we don’t need to?

How do you feel about all the labels emerging in the industry these days?

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  1. Sibel Hodge says:

    I completely agree, Talli. It’s absolutely fine to be labelled as an indie amongst my fellow indies, but from a readers point of view, I want to be known pure and simply as an author. It’s what I am, and I’ve worked hard to get there! :)

    • Talli Roland says:

      Exactly, Sibel! I’ve no issues being called an indie writer when it’s between other writers, but I’d prefer just to be known as an author when it comes to readers.

  2. D.D. Scott says:

    I totally agree too, Talli!

    I only use the Indie Epublished Author “label” among fellow authors who understand what that means in a professional setting.

    There’s no reason to use that label with readers. They don’t know and don’t care how we got published. They just want to be able to enjoy our books! :-) For all of my short blurb Bios on social media and etail sites, I simply say “I’m D. D. Scott, an Amazon and Barnes & Noble Top 100 Bestselling Author”…that’s what sells books for me and increases my following and reader base.

    • Talli Roland says:

      Yup, exactly! Readers probably don’t even get what ‘indie writer’ means – although they might now, given the success stories of Amanda Hocking etc. Still, as long as it’s a quality story, I’m sure they don’t care!

  3. D.D. Scott says:

    And yes, due to Frankenstorm, The WG2E was down for most of the morning today! Ugh! I received word from the provider who hosts our site, and they’re based in Boston and NYC, and have major outages due to the power failures and water surges. Let’s just hope all of them and their families are safe…

  4. I like this notion alot! I don’t think readers are religious about who publishes the novel as long as it’s a good quality work!

  5. Good topic! I actually don’t mind being known as an indie author (like you, I used to be traditionally published). To be honest, I don’t believe readers really care who publishes our books, as long as they are good quality reads and good values.

    What readers *do* tend to do, at least in my experience, that bothers me is apply sub-genre labels. My 19th novel happened to be an interracial love story, and to my amazement, readers will referring to me as “a new I/R (interracial) author.” That stunned me. I want to be known as an author of romance and women’s fiction without being placed into a niche by sub-genre. After watching a NBC news report about the influx of people pouring into North Dakota for jobs, I had the idea for a fish-out-of-water story about a young African-American woman desperate for income after nine long months of unemployment, and I had her accept a position in that state, which resulted in a culture shock and, to her surprise, romance. A Kiss of a Different Color was born. But that was a one-time deal. Similarly, I recently re-published my one and only romantic comedy, Accidentally Yours. I would be very disappointed if readers look at me as “a new rom-com writer” because I’m not. I get ideas, I write the books. But please don’t stick me in a corner and think this is all I do…

    • Talli Roland says:

      That’s a good point, Bettye, and it’s a tough one. I think readers like to know what they’re getting, and it’s all about predictability… same deal with publishers! I think it’s great now that we do have the freedom to take risks and explore different genres.

  6. I agree. Readers don’t care. I don’t label myself as indie or self-published when I market my books. I’m a writer. I writer books. How my book made if from idea to completed book isn’t important.

    I also feel labels can automatically create an opinion. I’ve seen comments such as, “I’m through reading books by indies because I’m tired of proofreading.”

    My question was, “Who asked you to proofread?”

    It seems that some readers feel they have to proofread if the book is labelled indie. It doesn’t make sense, but they do.

    Removing labels makes everything an even playing field. Judge my story, not whether I’m traditionally or untraditionally published.

    When the labelling stops, then we’ll know the gap between the publishing worlds is gone.

    • SK Holmesley says:

      I can’t imagine who they’re proofreading for anyway. I’ve done a lot of proofreading over the years as part of being an Order Typist, Secretary, Engineering Assistant, Technical Documenter, peer reviews as a Software Engineer, and so on. Proofreading by definition is pre-distribution and has an audience that expects feedback. I can’t imagine for whom the reader feels that they’re working–and I certainly wouldn’t do it for free. Odd that–I’m just saying–makes no sense to me either.

  7. Personally I’m tired of being labeled a romance writer, a paranormal romance writer, an erotic romance writer, a horror writer, an essayist…I’m a writer. I write in various genres. Don’t put this baby in a corner.


  8. deniz says:

    I agree with you and Mitzi too – we don’t need to be pigeonholed by genre either!

  9. Christina says:

    I’m another one that just says “writer”. I used to qualify that with indie or indie published, but not anymore.