A transplant from English into Norwegian

The cover of the original version of The Joy of Cooking, available on Amazon as the “1930 Facsimile Edition,” was created by indieforfatter Irma Rombauer’s daughter Marion and depicts St. Martha of Bethany, the patron saint of cooking, slaying the dragon of kitchen drudgery.

M. Michael Brady
Asker, Norway

Indieforfatter is a Norwegian neologism, most likely the newest one in the literature sector. It is a two-word compound of a loanword and a translation from the English “indie author.”

The English word author, in the sense meaning the writer of a book, is venerable, as it first appeared in print in 1380. The word indie is much newer, as it first appeared in print in 1928 in a New York Times article, as an in-group slang term for an independent producer of films. That’s what indie meant until it also was applied to the recorded music industry after World War II. In the 1950s, rhythm and blues and later rock were launched by indies, meaning “independent phonograph record companies.”

Indie migrated into literature four years or so ago as a digital age jargon term for self-publishing, in which a writer publishes a book without involving an established publisher. The approach is not new. But it’s proven. In 1931, Irma S. Rombauer, a widowed homemaker in St. Louis, paid a local printing company to print The Joy of Cooking, a cookbook that she had written, with illustrations drawn by her daughter. In 1936 the book was picked up by a commercial publisher. Since then, The Joy of Cooking has been in print continuously and to date its eight editions have together sold more than 18 million copies. So in the lingo of today, cookbook writer Rombauer might be called the first successful indie author.

As the internet is changing publishing, there are now organizations offering advice on and services for self publishing. The first and now oldest one is the Self Publishing Advice Center (, an incentive of the Alliance of Independent Authors, itself a new organization, based in London and launched in 2012 at the London Book Fair. In 2013, it was the first to use the term indie author. In step with the internet speed-up of transfer of knowledge between language areas, Norway followed soon thereafter. On May 12, 2017, the Indieforfatterportalen appeared online, as the principal offering of the BoldBooks website ( launched that day.

M. Michael Brady was educated as a scientist and with time turned to writing and translating.

Originally published in Norwegian on the Clue dictionaries blog at

This article appeared in the Nov. 17, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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M. Michael Brady

M. Michael Brady was born, raised, and educated as a scientist in the United States. After relocating to the Oslo area, he turned to writing and translating. In Norway, he is now classified as a bilingual dual national.