All self-publishing authors are indie, but some may be more indie than others. At least, that’s the sense I get from this piece by Porter Anderson in Publishing Perspectives looking at a minor furor that erupted in a self-publishing author association around the formation of a private forum for professional members.
The association is the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), whose membership comprises self-publishing authors in the UK, US, and other parts of the world. The furor erupted when ALLi’s founding Director, Orna Ross, announced a private forum launched at the request of ALLi’s Professional Members. This upset many of ALLi’s members who hadn’t attained the organization’s Professional rank, whose criteria involved 50,000 recent sales or Kindle Unlimited downloads, or other sales equivalent.
Anderson refers to a prior interview with former Amazon Director of Author and Publisher Relations, Jon Fine, to note that self-publishing authors seem to separate into two major strata—authors who are seeking commercial success, an those who just want to tell a story.
It’s understandable that people who are trying to earn a living are going to have different goals and desires than people who just want to get their story out there—but even then, many of the people who aren’t commercial successes still want to be. This especially holds true for those who write literary fiction, or in other “minority” genres that traditionally don’t sell as well as more popular genres like science fiction, mystery, suspense, and romance.
The article closes with the paragraph:
As Ross puts it to Publishing Perspectives, “It would be nice to see the generosity flowing in both directions, with support for pro members’ needs flowing from authors who have not yet managed to break through to those levels of readership.”
I can’t help thinking, though, that any member who qualifies as a pro has probably done well enough at meeting their own needs already that they probably don’t need a lot of “support” from less successful authors. Nor are many less successful authors who want that degree of success for themselves necessarily going to be that eager to “support” them.
Nonetheless, it’s interesting to see this sort of stratification. Generally, self-publishing authors are referred to as some kind of monolithic entity with generic characteristics, and we already know from Author Earnings that isn’t true—a lot of self-publishing authors are earning a decent amount of money, but the vast majority of them can maybe afford an extra steak dinner every now and then. It stands to reason that those who are more successful, and those who want that success, are going to have different viewpoints than those who just want to see their stuff in print.