What's in a name? (Indie, self-published, and traditional)

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The other day I saw a review that referred to the author as being traditionally published. Whenever I see this—be it from a reviewer, author, marketer, publisher, or just about anyone—I take a second to investigate, to see if I agree with them. In most cases I simply do not.

There's a lot of confusion over indie vs. traditional, indie vs. self-published, and the like. These terms are used loosely, which makes it difficult to know what's going on. Comparisons are made and reviews are written, leaving potential readers in the dark. Because there is little consistency.

The general consensus is murky at best, but it doesn't have to be this way. There is a simple way to define these terms that would eliminate all confusion.

What's in a name?

On some levels these labels don't matter. If you write, you are a writer. If your work is published—in any form—you are an author. Period. If you print out a poem and read it from the street corner, you are an author. If no one ever reads your writings, such as a personal journal or diary, you can decide if you are an author ... but you are definitely a writer.

When does a label matter?

These labels are like genres. They help readers, reviewers, marketers, and the like categorize you. Many times this is a negative thing, such as looking down on self-published authors, but the opposite is also true. Knowing what kind of book you are reading or reviewing can change your outlook toward similar books.

Now, a large part of this outlook goes well beyond the scope of simple labels. However, if the labels are confusing, your outlook will be skewed no matter what you do.

Before I give my definition of these terms, I would like to hear what you think.

What is the difference between indie, self-published, and traditionally published?