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What they say; what I say:

A few words about

Austin’s Other Creative Community: Indie Writers

By Nancy Smith


Austin, Texas is famous for its musicians. Locals pick up their guitars and learn to play music. They write a song or start a garage band. If they work hard at it and get good, they may pick up a gig at a local venue. Not every musician gets a recording contract, but the opportunity to be creative and share your creativity with the community lives in Austin. Until recently, books were different.  Austin writers could pick up a pen and write a book. If they worked hard at it and got good, they could maybe get their mother or their spouse to read it. Writers would send out endless letters to agents and traditional publishers to be repeatedly rejected. After all that work, many writers with creative ideas and important words to say gave up. However, trends have changed. Indie writers and indie publishers are opening up the world of creativity, not just in Austin, but around the world.

Comparison of Traditional and Indie Publishers:

Traditional publishers made the book visible to the public. In the past, the publishing industry competitively marketed about three hundred books per year in the United States. In a September 2016 report on trends in self-publishing of books between 2010 and 2015, Bowker, where most book authors obtain their International Standard Book Number (ISBN), said that the number of self-published writers is growing explosively. “ISBN registrations for self-published titles had grown more than 375% since 2010,” Bowker says. 


The traditional publisher offers a cash advance to the writer of the book and in return the publisher obtains the writer’s rights to that book. A traditional publisher is responsible for editing, publishing, marketing and distribution. Many of the books on the indie market are much more polished than in years past. One thing that has changed over time in indie publishing is the wide range of people and organizations that are available to help the indie writer with editing, publishing, marketing and distribution tasks. The ability of the indie writer to find professional assistance is limited only by their pocketbook.


Traditional publishing tends to favour books of 350 pages or more in established genres. Indie writers are thriving. New trends in indie publishing often favour shorter books and novellas, works considered too risky for traditional publishers. Indie publishing is wide open. Genres are combined together and new genres created. Themes may be anything of interest to the writer. Anthologies with multiple authors represented are popular and marketing campaigns that group authors together are common.  If the writer thinks of it, the writer can likely do it.


Traditional book publishing is very competitive. Indie writers help each other, especially in Austin. In Austin, indie writers come together to share what they know, what they’ve learned, and what they need to know. Groups like the Austin Indie Authors Society – hold regular free talks about improving craft and managing the business side. 

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