Thursday, January 31, 2013

Indie Books and Creator-Owned Comics

I’m constantly reading articles on self-publishing and being an indie author, and I’ve noticed a parallel between the book world and the comic world recently. independent creators in the book industry are struggling with some of the barriers that comic creators have started to overcome in the past few years. I think the book world could learn some lessons from what has happened over in comics.

A similar problem faced by independent comic creators and book authors is that self-publishing still carries a stigma. While the negative connotation has lessened in the past few years, there are still many that assume self-published work is of lower quality than that which has gone through a traditional publisher.

Right now, self-published authors are in the midst of re-branding themselves, and the term “indie” is what seems to be sticking. I actually like that, but I also remember that the “indie” label is not what turned the public perception around for comic creators. Over the past couple of years, what has changed the perception in comics is the notion that with creator-owned work, comic creators are completely free to tell the best stories they can, without corporate interference. The characters belong to them, and they can tell any stories they want. The public has started to really embrace this idea, and creator-owned comics have never been more popular than they are now. Even digital platforms like ComiXology have started to embrace self-published creators and webcomic creators.

Now, the specifics are a little different in the book world, but the core premise is the same. For indie authors to shed the self-published stigma, the perception of self-published books needs to shift from one of lesser quality to one of increased freedom to tell more original stories. In the traditional publishing world, if your book does not fit into a neat category that can be marketed easily, you’re out of luck. The ideal situation with self-publishing is that you can create the story you want to write, without worrying about the box it fits into.

If the perception of readers can change to look at the indie scene as the place where they can find bold and original storytelling, the stigma of self-publishing will fade, and indie authors will see the shift that comic creators have seen over the past few years.

In my next post, I’ll talk about some ways that comic creators helped change the indie perception and why I think those methods can work for indie authors as well.