17 May 2013 - www.IndiePENdents.org - Solidarity of Authors


- Solidarity of Authors -

G'day guys,

Many avid readers are unaware of the plight of self-published authors, or the availability of their books. However, I have often referred to an organisation that was set up to unite self-published authors - IndiePENdents.org. 

 In the past few years, there has been a rapid rise in the number of books self-published. In fact, many authors who had previously been published by traditional publishers have opted to self-publish. Why, because they have more control. Example: If a book sells for $30.00 RRP (recommended retail price), the average author will receive a mere $3.00. Yep, $3.00! Who takes the rest? Generally, the publisher and the author do worst. The ones who take the biggest slice of the pie are the book sellers and distributors. Amazing, eh? 

So, here is some information about The IndiePENdents.

The exploding number of digital books on the market is not a sign of the demise of traditional print. The same titles are available on Kindle, Nook and other e-outlets that can be found in print as well. The majority of them, however, will not be found in libraries, schools, or even bookstores, which are losing readers who would love to browse and buy the books from them but are forced to turn to other sources. The problem isn’t the future of books but of publishers, libraries, schools and bookstores. It has several causes:

  1. The great majority of today’s independent authors can’t get their manuscripts past publishing agents; the response to their queries, if they get one at all, is often negative, but they will mostly get a total rude silence. This is perhaps because potential publishers like to bet on proven money-makers or on celebrities, regardless of the literary value of new writings. As a result, more writers are abandoning the traditional publishing route and are self-publishing.
  2. The next hurdle is provided by the bookstores themselves, even the so-called independent ones: They will not accept books of independent authors, regardless of their merit, unless they have a publisher. 
  3. Writers are thus blocked from public view by the subjective judgements of agents, publishers and traditional bookstores as to what they think will sell, rather than as to the literary and cultural value a book might have.  Authors then go into self-publishing and the public has a choice to read them in digital or print form, but the books must be visible to succeed, and this forces authors to become marketers.
  4. The avalanche of self-published books creates a problem of legitimacy. Therefore, a group of us, authors and editors, is now forming a non-profit organization, The indiePENdents, with the purpose of establishing standards and promoting independent writers. We will try to enlist the support of Amazon, Barnes&Noble, LuLu and mainstream publishers in creating standards and awards.

Authors write books. They represent the future of our culture. The indiePENdents want to give the creativity of the self-published authors an imprimatur, so to speak, in order to achieve the respectability and credibility that they are not presently given by the industry.  Books that meet the standards will be awarded the indiePENdents' Seal. 

Standards required by IndiePENdents.org:

A.    Books that pass will be awarded the Seal. It will be referred to as "The IndiePENdents Seal."
B. What are those who read the books to be called? They will be referred to as “evaluators,” a term that best approximates their function.  It is not to be confused with the term “reviewer,” which refers to a more subjective judgment.

C. How will the evaluators be selected? The validation team will be the next three members of a rotating list; a member can choose to be recused, or the author may request that a member not be involved in evaluating his or her book due to a perceived conflict of interest.

D. How many evaluators will be assigned to each panel? Three. See C, above.

E. What criteria will be used in evaluating a book? Evaluators will pass books that meet basic objective standards of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting. 

F. What is the underlying authority of our seal? Its objectivity: The standards of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting are fundamentally objective. We believe the authority of the seal may rest initially on the professional qualifications of the evaluation panel but will ultimately rest on verifiable results: books that pass have, in fact, met the standards and books that do not pass, have not.

G. Should we limit the types of books that may be submitted? Unless and until circumstances warrant a change, any independently published book may be submitted for evaluation. Note that this refers specifically to books already published.

It is our goal to promote and support independent publishing, to establish widespread standards to elevate the quality of independently published works, and to help eliminate valid cause for negative perceptions of independently published books based solely on their publishing provenance.

Here is Jasha Levi’s latest letter to the New York Times, forever battling for and on behalf of self-published authors:

"Self-published authors have yet to gain a voice on the pages of The New York Times. On behalf of The indiePENdents.org, I tried responding to articles in the business section, reports dealing with publishing, libraries and Author's Guild, even an Op-Ed essay -- all met by an automated reply and then -- silence."

“To The Editor:

Re: “E-Books and Democracy” (Op-Ed, May 1):

How interesting that the illustration above the article about libraries and publishers is of a library card for a self-published classic that for a long time wasn’t accepted by either of them: James Joyce’s Ulysses.

In the article, the President of The New York Public Library, Anthony W. Marx rightly advocates public access to all books, including e-Books, which publishers are trying to restrict.

“The challenge,” he concludes, “is to ensure that the information revolution provides more, not less access for the public . . .”

That advocacy, however, is extended to only part of available literature.  It doesn’t include self-published authors, who are still shunned by both publishers (who, out of  economic consideration, are not taking risks on new talent) and libraries -- only because the publishers didn’t even look at them. These are indefensible reasons for withholding the public’s right of access to all books, not just those with the arbitrary publishers’ imprimatur.

The majority of books today are self-published, as in their day were so many of today’s classics. We are advocating that libraries open their doors to all books, not just those advertised by publishers. Readers are adults who should be allow to judge books for themselves. To be truly democratic, they should showcase all books, and at least those ”Well Written, Well Edited, Unknown (self-published) Books” which our organization of peers evaluates for free, before issuing some of them a Seal of Good Writing, without any financial gain or personal bias. The catalog is available for $8 from Amazon, and can be downloaded for free at www.indiePENdents.org.

Jasha M. Levi
President, The indiePENdents.org”

Not only but also, here is the latest comment from one of the co-founders of IndePENdents.org: 

‘Once The indiePENdents become a critical mass of thousands of authors, we will collectively become a force to be listened to by the media, and eventually yes, by the courts, if we have a grievance to redress. Unless self-published writers among us do something concrete for themselves, we won't be effective in winning against adverse marketing forces. Join The indiePENdents. Membership is free. Let's speak in unison.’

Clancy’s comment: My first book, ‘Gunnedah Hero, has such a seal, and proudly so. It also has two other award medallions on the front cover, but I am particularly pleased to have the Seal of the IndiePENdents.org. I am also an evaluator and have been for some time. Have I been surprised by the quality and content of the books I have evaluated? Yes. Some have been extraordinary reads – fiction and non-fiction.

So, I’d encourage anyone, especially self-published authors, to visit www.indiependents.org and check out the books which have a Seal. Click on any book cover and find out where you can make a purchase:

Books with a seal:


To contact The indiePENdents, please send an email to:

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