Independent Publisher

Written by Christopher Ransom
Bookmark and Share

In today's media world where it seems a handful of gigantic conglomerates own all the newspapers, TV, radio, book publishing and Internet service providers, the term independent publisher is often used loosely or outright falsely. For example, Miramax Studios, producer and distributor of many independent films, is widely considered the most successful independent studio ever. So successful in fact, the family owned and operated studio sold their company to Disney. Thankfully, in the world of book publishing, there remain dozens if not hundreds of independent publishers that have yet to be gobbled up by global media empires such as AOL Time Warner and Vivendi (who together own dozens of smaller publishing imprints of various names all under one umbrella). More to the point, one of the largest independent publishers, iUniverse, is partially owned by Barnes & Noble, Inc., the largest bookselling company in the world. Does that qualify for independent? I'm not sure.

Regardless of the definition, why this topic may be of interest to you, Mr. or Mrs. Self-Publisher, is that these independent publishing and book printing companies offer the best path for you to take in order to see your book in print. Independent in the publishing world means, ideally, more freedom to publish books that are not expected to become bestsellers, Today Show Book Club Selections, or otherwise astounding performers that will contribute to the company's quarterly earnings expectations determined by Wall Street. Independent publishers take more risks, in other words.

The Blurring Line between the Independent Publisher and the Independent Spirit

A few years ago a wonderfully wicked little film titled "A Simple Plan," based on Scott Smith's excellent first novel of the same name, was released to much critical acclaim and financial success. What was interesting to note was that the film seemed a perfect marriage of independent spirit and big studio backing, in this case Warner Bros. Critics were calling "A Simple Plan" the best independent film produced by a major studio in years. This is just one of many examples where the two separate schools of thought, independent and major establishment, have collided to produce quality work.

If you are looking to have your own book printed, in which case you are the publisher, then you are about as independent as it gets. This can be good and bad. Good because printing your own book as an independent publisher ensures that you will have most if not all of the freedom to decide how your book is published and distributed. Bad because it's harder to get your book into the major distribution and selling channels when you are a small outfit, or one author working alone. By major selling channels, we're talking about the chain stores like Barnes & Noble as well as and all the independent and not-so-independent wholesalers and distributors in between.

When printing your own book, it may be worth your time to research not only book printers, but also the distributors standing between you and millions of book shoppers. Ask your printer if they are privately owned, who their partners in the industry are, and what examples of successful independent authors they know of. Ask your printer for references so you can contact other wholesalers and distributors and learn more about the life of a book. Independent publishing is full of choices. It just takes a little homework to understand how independent publishing can work for you.

Bookmark and Share