Thursday, February 16, 2012

Do Indie Authors Deserve More Respect?

NOTE: Let me add to this post that I am a BIG FAN of indie writers and indie fiction. This post is totally pro-both! My hope is add to the discussion of how to help indies who are serious about their work compete in the market place and not be unfairly branded as junk.

Earlier this week, while preparing for Tuesday's I HEART YA Blog Carnival, I was dismayed to see that my list of exciting, upcoming 2012 YA releases did not include many indie authors. There have been predictions that 2012 would be the year of the indie author. And maybe it will be. Or maybe Amanda Hocking and and John Locke are anomalies whose success won't be repeated.

Are readers becoming more discriminating with their dollars? Do they expect a fully-edited manuscript even if they only pay a buck? One can hope so. There are some authors out there who tout the lack of a need for editing indie books. I've even heard it said that editing means nothing more than removing an author's voice. I won't make that an exact quote, but I will say I think that it is pure rubbish.

Let me make this perfectly clear: I believe every manuscript deserves to be edited, and no author can edit their own manuscript. The author already knows what happens next, or what the main character is thinking. There is just no way they can see the flaws of their own story. And you can quote me on that. recently gave four reasons for Indie Authors not getting respect. I suggest reading the full article, but I'll make a quick summary:

Reason #1: Bad editing. See above.

Reason #2: Quantity over quality.  Boy is that a problem. The search engines will find you if you have more than one title. Solution? Blow through titles and get them out there. Mega-millions will follow. Just ask Amanda. Problem is, not many of us mere mortals have the ability to put out quality work in a matter of months. Even if we could develop and write a story, it takes time for beta-readers, editors, and formatting. Quality takes time. Always has. Always will.

Reason #3: Lack of Gatekeepers. This is often a sore-spot for indie authors. Agents and publishers have traditionally been the gatekeepers of good books. Now it is readers and reviewers, which is as it should be. The problem is that indie authors aren't always the best judge of when their book is ready. And there's nothing readers or reviewers can do if a book is put on the market too soon. A published book with more potential than polish is a sad thing.

Reason #4: Crappy Covers. I saw some beautiful indie covers last year, and I'm counting on seeing more this year. But since we do judge books by their covers, that's something every indie should take to heart if they want to be taken seriously.

It will be interesting to see where 2012 takes the new world of publishing. Personally I'm cheering for the indies--especially the ones that are polished and prepared.

What do you think? Have indies flooded the market, or are the best rising to the top?


  1. I'm considering a blog post on this, but the other day I realized that Self-Publishing is much like YouTube for musicians. They can record songs and music videos and put the content out there for free and let the masses decide if it is good. Then a lucky few get discovered and signed to a record deal. Owl City, Christina Perri. But the indie could stay indie, a la Stephanie Black.
    I think it just depends on what you want for your career.

  2. This is definitely a sensitive-ish issue. I've read some really great self-published books (just purchases Jessica Grey's Awake and what I've read so far is really good). But I know that there are indie books out there that, like you say, need more polish. It's unfortunate for those with great indie books that these unpolished books are giving all of them a bit of a bad name. I hope this changes :-)

    1. Sensitive-ish - I like that. And don't mean to ruffle feathers. I think there are fantastic indie books out there, that's why I hope the whole group doesn't get undeserved black eyes! Thanks for your comments!

  3. Yep, that's a good point. I can't remember where I read the quote but that was one thing I read while researching this - basically the level of perfection should depend on how you plan to charge for your book and where you want to go with it. Things to ponder... ;)

  4. My biggest turn-off with indie books is your number one point. It's frustrating because I read/buy a book to escape and enjoy, not to end up nit-picking and getting annoyed. Not to say that my work is perfect by any means, but I'm sure you know what I'm saying! :D Although I have read some really excellent indie books (including Loving Emily by my awesome CP Anne Pfeffer), which has an awesome cover too. :)

  5. What a great question. I think one thing that is happening to the market place previously occuppied by indie authors is the decision of many 'big' name authors to release at least some of their previous works into this market. Suddenly the small publishers and self-publishers are competing with better known authors.
    As to the editing, I just read a book by a 'mega-multi published author and found so many punctuation and other errors it took me out of the story.

  6. I think indie authors are realizing the importance of presenting a finished product on par with traditionally published authors. When readers buy a book, they expect quality (well-written, little to no typos, etc). That's the only way an indie author can stand out--to have a quality product. Otherwise, you'll just be lost in the virtual slushpile of indie ebooks all over the net that rarely sell. Thanks for posting.

  7. I find unedited stuff so distracting.
    But I've also read reviews on the Kirkus Review which state that the book (that was published by one of the Big 6 publishers) has been rushed to market without proper editing.

    Having read the books of those reviews, I concur. They are full of over-tell, under-show, over-hashed sayings, laundry lists of what the character did that day, undercooked plots, confusing plot turns, under-developed characters, poor voice ... and on and on ...

    But I don't see crappy covers or spelling/grammar mistakes (very rarely from the Big 6) so they have that in that favor.

    I do agree it's impossible to objectively edit your own work - but no one should expect an agent or publisher to do an amazing job either. It's very hit and miss.