There’s been a lot of talk in the book blogosphere lately about “indie authors” and self-published authors.  The terms are being used interchangeably, but the more I read about them, the more I thought they might be different.

So, I sent out a question on my Twitter feed.  I interact with a fair number of people in the publishing (or a related) industry on Twitter, and they confirmed my suspicions.

According to my sources, self-published authors might call themselves “independent” in the sense that they are not aligned with a publishing house, but Independent authors are really associated with an independent publisher rather than one of legacy houses.  If you don’t know, in a typical publishing arrangement, the publishing house provides some degree of services to the author- editing, perhaps some marketing, etc.

A self-published author owns all facets of publishing a book.  If the author wants assistance with cover design or editing services, they must solicit them. They are responsible for all production and marketing costs. Of course, they also reap all the profits.

So why the controversy? After all, self -publishing has been around for a while.  Well, with the advent of eReaders, it has become less cost prohibitive for authors to produce their books.  So several authors are circumventing the traditional publishing route and publishing their own eBooks.  Similarly, some authors who may not have been picked up by the big, traditional publishing houses are being picked up by the Indies.  And folks, some of these are really good.  Thirty Pieces of Silver, which I reviewed here a few weeks ago is one such Indie book that I loved.

There’s a stigma about being self-published, though. Some people assume that an author who self-publishes wasn’t “good enough” to be picked up by an agent and publisher. And that may or may not be true. That’s why, I think, some people who self publish prefer to call themselves an “indie” author. Because while some self-published books are well edited and very good, some are not. There was quite a viral post earlier this week where a self-published author’s book was reviewed. The review was largely complimentary, but the numerous typos, grammatical errors, and awkward sentence structure were noted. The author took great offense to this observation, verbally attacked the reviewer in the blog comments, and suffered an unintentionally funny and ultimately sad meltdown.

So what’s my point in all this?  Well, first, I want to be correct whenever I talk about a book’s publishing origins, and I’m glad to know now that Independent and Self-Published do not mean the same thing.  But I also want to encourage you to check out independent and self-published authors. Smashwords and Amazon both have a lot of choice for eBooks. All you need is a computer- you don’t have to have an eReader. These books are often less expensive, and in some instances, you can check out an excerpt for free. Who knows why an author may not be picked up by a publisher? That doesn’t mean the work is bad.  On the other hand, don’t expect every self-published author to be well-edited.

Finally, to me, there is no stigma in being self-published. If you’re going to be brave enough to do it, own it. Be proud you took the chance. And similarly, check out some independent authors. You never know who you might discover.