Being Professional Indie means you are serious about presenting your work so that it is of the highest possible quality. Readers can expect the presentation and look and feel of your product to rival that of any other product they’ve purchased, even traditionally-published products. Of course, we guarantee anyone they’re going to like your story. That’s not our job. That’s your job. But we’ll stand behind you and make sure your fans and potential fans know they’re getting a story third-party guaranteed to not be a frustrating read bogged down by grammatical and spelling errors or weakened by poor presentation, amateur formatting, and terrible design. We do this by insisting that any book published by a Professional Indie author conform to the following levels of standards. There is no submission or review process, but by allowing anyone who may question the quality of work claiming to be tied to us for a standards review, which, if substantiated, results in membership termination. For more information, see Violation of Quality Standards.
Professional Indie authors publish books that have been professional copy edited. Generally, this means that the work has been done by an accredited copy editor in the industry. Every book contains less than .002% content error within the text or prose (or less than 1 maligned word per 50,000). Any errors discovered in an already published Professional Indie book should be corrected immediately across all galley editions and, in the case of eBooks, the correction should be immediately updated across all applicable sell sites. In the case of other editions, the corrected version should be made available at the next logical release (either the next print run, the release of a new, updated edition, etc.)
In most cases, Professional Indie suggests having their work copyedited in a manner conforming to The Chicago Manual of Style and Webster’s 11 spelling and grammar rules. If an author prefers another standard, that is fine, providing some sort of standard is used. Deviations from the standard are, of course, permissible, but in the case of an inquiry, the author may be asked to provide a stylesheet of deviations. Most importantly, the styling throughout a single publication must be consistent. Authors outside of the United States may want to use a difference dictionary reference, such as the Oxford English Dictionary for countries like the U.K. and Canada where published work often conforms to British grammar and spelling rules.
Internal Design and Layout for Hardcovers, Trade paperbacks, Mass Market Paperbacks
Hard back and trade paperback, and mass market paperback editions of work published by a Professional Indie author must be properly styled in a professional manner. Chapter landing pages must be consistent throughout sections (in a manner that makes sense to the work), running headers and footers must be consistent. All front and back matter must be presented such that it gives no appearance of being any different from that found in a traditionally published book. All copyright information must be accurate and included, as should the ordinal of the current printing.
Any images set within the pages must be included at print resolution so they look crisp and clean. This includes images “purposely” made grainy or otherwise modified. Effects of these types should be made during the production process and the final images still exported at print quality (usually 300 PPI or DPI).
Any links to webpages or email addresses printed in the book should be accurate and work at the time of the book’s printing.
eBooks but be consistently formatted throughout and conform and behave in manners expected by readers of eBooks. Fonts must be sized appropriately in manners that make sense within the context of the work. Any links and email addresses provided within the work must be fully tested to be working at the time of the release. If any such links stop working permanently after publication, the link within the book must be updated or taken out immediately and a new version posted to all applicable sales venues. In those cases where links are blocked due to conflicts between hardware sellers and app designers (for instance, the current issue of ios blocking the Kindle app from allowing users to browse to any embedded Amazon links) the author of the work may opt to leave these links as is, or replace them with generic links or “universal links”, such as those provided by Draft2Digital.
Images used within eBooks must be provided in a large enough resolution as to look sharp across all devices, Retina screens included. With the current state of the technology, this generally means a width of at least 1600 pixels for full screen images.
Professional indie authors publish books with professional quality covers. While what constitutes “art” is not something anybody can debate, there are certain aspects qualities of cover design professional indie authors must address. Unless for done for effect. Images must be obviously not “amateur” in nature. They should hold their own and look “professional,” even if the intent is otherwise, in the same way a traditionally published cover (for instance, the cover of Emma Donoghue’ Room). Similarly, all fonts should be professional in nature, even when the desired effect is to “not look professional” (again, using Room for an illustration of this). Title and author must be large enough to be effective even when the cover is displayed as a thumbnail. All text (front and back) must be professionally set, error-free, and legible.
Referencing Professional Indie
Announcing to potential readers and fans that you are a Professional Indie Author provides them with the assurance that your work is of professional caliber. They know you take your work as seriously as John Grisham. And even though they may not yet know if your work is a white-knuckled gripping as his, they already know your level of production and display is at least as good. They can expect a quality reading experience, just the same way they expect it from a traditionally published author. Of course, authors are under no obligation or requirement to provide such a reference to or mention of Professional Indie anywhere within their book or cover (this of course, does not apply to those books published under our Professional Indie Books imprint). There are a number of ways authors may use their Professional Indie affiliation in order to promote and distinguish themselves and their level of commitment to their craft, such as citing in the copyright, or by placing a banner or badge on a page in the front or back matter, or by placing a badge on the front or back cover, etc. For more information see: Leveraging Your Career as Professional Indie. This article explains the common practices for referencing Professional Indie not only in publications, but also in ad campaigns, websites, blog posts, social media, etc.
Violation of Quality Standards
At any time, anybody (a Professional Indie member or otherwise) may submit work published claiming to be affiliated with Professional Indie for a Review of Conformation to Standards. Our standards committee will assess the work and, if it determines a breach has been made, the author’s membership with Professional Indie will be immediately severed, and he or she will be given written instruction to immediately remove any and all public statements claiming any sort of ties between them and Professional Indie. This may include, but is not limited to, hard cover books. trade paperback books, mass-market paperback books, audiobooks, web pages, author pages, sell pages, social media, etc. etc. Failure to fully comply with this request within two months of receiving it will result in further court action.
Anyone losing their Professional Indie status due to quality standards violation who successfully fulfilled our request to remove all references of their association within the two months provided may apply to once again become a Professional Indie member any time after two years from the day they were found in breach of standards. Their work will go before our review board who will verify that the published work does indeed conform to our standards and if it does, their status will be reinstated. If the review determines the work still falls short, they may continue to apply every year henceforth.