The Bane of Indie Publishing

The Epic of Gilgamesh, the most popular indie book in history

One of the things that I’ve been recently encountering is a certain amount of hostility for Indie publishers; and by that I mean, independent authors. Some of the noise that is being made revolves around the sole fact that indie books are not professionally published, ergo, they cannot be considered, “real books.”

Some have criticized the advent of the indie publishing phase as a death-blow to either the publishing industry as a whole; good literature as a whole; and a means for people to make a fast buck off of swindling others into buying their fifteen page self-help book on how to make money writing and independently publishing a book.

To the first two of those, I can only say, “Phem!” The written word has been around long before the modern critics were a cosmic speck in sands of time; and I have no doubt that the written word will exist in some form long after they are gone. As for the last part of their complaint, I can see their point; writers that write a book just to mislead others into buying their swill are nothing more than scoundrels and crooks. But I’d like to take a look at this practice of writing and examine some of the claims that indie writing is wrong, and what constitutes a book.

To do this, we have to take a look at a person called, Gilgamesh. He was a King of Uruk in ancient Mesopotamia (2700BC), whose exploits were written about on tablets about 600 BC, by a man called Sin-Leqi-Unninni; and have since been the subject of many revisions, rewrites and has pretty much fallen into the accumulated annals of antiquity. The Epic of Gilgamesh as a story is probably in the top five oldest written books ever. Granted, the story wasn’t written on paper, it probably didn’t have a proofreader, it was not edited for correctness, and it didn’t get taken from publishing house to publishing house in an attempt to get a sale. But no student of literature, mythology, or ancient writing can say they’ve never heard the name of Gilgamesh.

One of the things that I’d like to point out to anyone reading this article, and is a book reader—not a writer—is that the definition of a book has really been altered in the past decade, now, you don’t need physical pages for something to be considered a book. Digital media has been accused of harming the physical media industry, and yet, I don’t see any decline in printed paperbacks and hardbacks whenever I wander into a Barnes & Noble book store.

Having said that, I’d like to address some issues. Continue reading