As an indie author, there are several things that annoy me on internet message boards, blogs, and other online forums. People claiming they “don’t read indie authors.” They’re “tired of searching through the muck” for something “readable,” “well-edited,” or enjoyable. While these arguments used to really irk me, and evoke my pro-indie rants I decided that in order to rightfully respect other people’s opinions I can look at their reasoning. Yes, most of the time it’s just a cop-out excuse. But the other side of the coin is that they realize that (most of the time) indie authors are responsible for our own quality control, and they are holding us accountable.
So, without any further ado here are the five reasons I hear most often from the “LYK OMG I DON’T REED INDIEZ” camp. Only two are really worth listening to.
1. All indie books are bad, poorly written, un-edited, typo-laden, etc. This commentary to me is not worth listening to. Stereotypes are formed of ignorance. And, saying all indie titles are bad is no different than saying that all traditionally published books are bad. ALL books have errors and typos. And, there are good and bad books on both sides of the fence. MANY indies hire editors, proofreaders, etc. MANY indies do care about quality control. I happen to be one of them.
2. It’s too hard of work for me to weed through all of the crap to find something worth reading. That’s a lazy, cop-out answer. Sorry, but that’s my opinion. It’s not really all that hard to find good books whether traditional or indie. It’s not hard to download a sample, or use “see inside.” It doesn’t take that much time out of your busy day to read through even the first 3 pages. When you buy trad books, don’t you sample first? When you buy a paperback at B&N don’t you skim through it first?
Here’s a tip: The best indie books are in the TOP of the lists on Amazon. AND, you can narrow it by genre. The worthy titles (in both publishing formats) are in the top 100; other worthy reads are in the top 1,000 – 3,000 range. And, they are NOT at the bottom. If you’re “bottomfeeding” and finding nothing worth reading, then you have no one to blame but yourself.
3. Negative Nellies Many of the people who’ve made the above comment are victims of their own negative energy. If you go around thinking “all X is crap” when you search through indie titles, you’ll see only the crap. Every typo, misspelling, ugly cover, horrible blurb will jump out at you screaming “here I am!” Even in good books, the flaws will jump out at you and look just as awful, because you’ve pre-ordained it to be so.
And, I confess I’m speaking from experience here–not in regards to SP books, but in regards to TP ones. When I first embarked on my indie journey, I adopted the “all TP books are crap” mantra. Every error, every page printed crooked, every little typo and Mary Sue character nearly turned me against ALL books regardless of publication method. Thank Heaven that phase was short lived. 😉 The power of positive thinking. Try it some time. It won’t hurt…I promise.
4. Authors behaving badly. I confess this is hard to argue against. I’ve been turned off of writers for this (both TP and Indie). People in the arts should watch what they say and do as a rule, to be sure they don’t turn off their audience, full of consumers who will buy their product.
I only argue against the idea that “all indies do X thing.” That’s a stereotype, and stereotyping is just wrong. There are badly behaving authors on both sides of the fence. Case in point: Anne Rice.
Regardless, the need to police ourselves is apparent–because we don’t have publicists telling us “don’t do that.” There’s nobody in place to slap our wrists with a proverbial ruler, like a Catholic School Nun. I have a list of dos and don’ts in place, but I’ll save that for another time.
5. But I don’t know of any indie authors…and all the ones I’ve heard of have already traditionally published by now. This is a good argument, and a very plausible one. Maybe, it’s even a call-to-arms for most authors to get the word out about our books.
It’s very important to spread the word, and have our “street team” (readers, friends, relatives, co-workers, fellow authors, etc…) help spread the word about you and your books.
Even good books go unnoticed because of lack of advertising, marketing and ineffective promo.
There’s also a chance that some of these people read an indie/sp book without realizing that they were. Whether that’s due to the author being discreet about her publishing methods, or the fact that the book is just that professional from cover-to-cover and nothing stands out as looking “indie” it’s hard to say.
In closing, I’ll just say this: (and it applies mostly to #4) Don’t judge the whole lot of us based on the actions of a few. There are good indie books, and there are not-so good ones. There are sensible authors and ones who fly off the handle at every perceived slight. And, not every author engages in seedy publicity tactics, or sock puppet review scams. Most authors I know steer clear of doing that. Authors are people, and people make mistakes…it’s a shame that so many get judged on the actions of a few, but that carries over into ALL walks of life, not just authors.