I hate the word "independent" because I feel like it's false advertising. Writers should come with labels just like vegetarians:
I'm a pesca-ova-lactarian.
I eat cheese, and chicken, but no beef.
I'm a cheese and veggie kind of girl.
No, I don't even eat honey.
Now, to be honest, I think anyone who eats any kind of animal flesh cannot call themselves vegetarian. When it comes to animal products, I think there are really three categories of food consumers: vegans (purists), vegetarians (digestively challenged?), and everyone else (see-foodists).
That's kind of how I feel about writing, but maybe there's a few additional categories.
There's the traditional writers (whole hogs), or those who went with publishers (big 6 or otherwise). Then there are the hybrid writers, which are kind of like those pesca-ova-lacta-poultry-bullshit vegetarians - trying to reap the rewards of both labels (many of them doing an excellent job, it should be noted!).
Then of course, there are the a la carts. These are people who pay someone else to do various writing services. Now, I'm not saying it isn't a good idea to involve other people, or that we don't need help...but...call a spade a spade. A. LA. CART.
And finally, there's the bootstrappers. The purists. The people who are so committed to the idea of indie, it's embarrassing. I have pictures of these people in my head - you know, that crazy straight-edge punk in your freshman dorm who wrote "straight-edge" in his own blood and then listened to the Misfits all day? Yeah. Those people. Totally bonkers. I mean, why - why - would anyone in their right mind choose to go completely DIY?!
*waves frantically with both hands while jumping up and down and grinning maniacally*
HIIiiiiii! That'd be me.
I'm a bootstrapper. I hate when someone who is only sort of independent claims this word. It's my word. It belongs to people like me. I'm the epitome of independent. I do everything myself. I'm responsible for my complete success or failure. I'm responsible for the flowery words, the typos, the turns of phrase, and the paragraph going off on someone's delicious sandwich (food centered today apparently). Me. Only me. I'm the American myth - the American legend. I am the American dream. I'm completely, beautifully, gloriously independent. Those other guys are posers! Pretenders! They say you need to have an editor. You need to go to conferences. You need to have a cover designer. But that's bullshit. I don't need these things. I can do it myself.
Be precise with your language people! I mean, we're frickin' writers here!
I imagine this is what being vegan must feel like.
Except, the thing is, help is nice. I don't actually begrudge people for paying for services. I just hate feeling like everyone has a sugardaddy footing their service bill. I mean, those conference tickets are expensive. Hundreds of dollars could pay my monthly loan payment (one of them anyway). As my starving artist indie self, I really can't purchase entry to a writer's conference. I can't justify spending hundreds of dollars on editing services when I need to buy clothes for my baby and tools so my husband can do his job.
I'm not in the same league as these other "indie" authors. We're not in the same league because we have different levels of support. Living on one income, while being a stay at home mom, and writing...it's not easy. Granted, I was forced to develop a bunch of skills. I was forced to research things on my own. I was forced to do things that if I'd been in a comfy big 6 situation, I would never have done. You know, like figuring out how to make beet burgers, kale chips, or baking with agave nectar.
There's a reason why bootstrappers are so tough. It might take us a while to get where we're aiming, but we'll get there. We stumble and we trip, and we take detours. But we do our own course correction. We figure it out on our own. I mean seriously, how much more American can you get.