Monday, May 21, 2012

How to Avoid Indie Authors

I stumbled across an Amazon forum post that hit me pretty hard. The post is titled "How to Avoid Indie Authors." The comments are pretty harsh, talking about how they're tired of Amazon putting Indie titles in their recommendations. They don't want to buy books from Indies -- the books are awful and they're a waste of time and money. You can always tell an Indie book because the cover art will be "abysmal" and it'll cost less than "trad pub" books. They will be full of errors and are written unprofessionally. Amazon should filter out Indies so the customers don't have to sift through them all just to get to the good stuff. Amazon needs to "raise the bar" so that only quality books are sold.

Wow, I mean, it was pretty harsh. As I read through some of the 3,000+ posts, I could practically feel the fire rise up from my feet, burning the wooden post that was strapped to my back.

I wonder if it's time to re-educate the readers. These 8-10 posters judged independent authors as a single entity, based on an archaic belief that indies put no effort or professionalism into their books. Admittedly, I've seen some of awful indies that fit the mold these posters set out. There are a lot of "All About Me" books, where someone visited another country or led a rough life or found some kind of renewed strength. They decide to write down their experiences and share them with the world. But the books are poorly written or unedited or just plain boring. I can understand judging a book like this if proper effort was not put into it. But to lump all Indies together into the same category?

I tried to get inside the heads of these posters to understand their prejudice. First, I decided to think like a reader. I am qualified enough to judge books based on my experience as a reader. I spend (shamelessly) hundreds of dollars a month on books, mostly on and Audible. I've purchased so many books in the past 15 years, I practically own stock in Amazon. Not to mention the hearty business I've thrown Barnes and Noble, Borders, Hastings, and Half Priced books. I have read every day of my life since I was four. That's a lot of reading. I am definitely qualified to judge as a reader. Yet I don't feel the same kind of distaste toward Indie book authors. What did they do to warrant such a hateful gathering of Amazon readers?

As a writer, I also take offense. My books may not be best sellers, but I put a lot of work into them. I have a bachelor's degree in Writing and Linguistics (Georgia Southern University) and have been a professional writer and editor for many, many years. From the lifetime of reading that I mentioned above, I have a pretty good idea of how to tell a story. If I don't have a right to publish my own novels, then who does? What is the criteria to be a book author in these posters' eyes? Is it acceptance by the Big 6? Because if that's the case, they should probably pick up a few more "trad pub" books and investigate a little deeper. Publishers don't put much effort into their books. The past dozen books I've read from traditional publishers had errors. The last three books alone (same author) were so badly written, I had a hard time keeping up. It is a very popular, best selling series, too. What qualified this writer to be a novelist in the absence of experience and education? Luck, I guess. Publishers have to pick someone. I'm sure they have a lot of good material to choose from, but they could only pick one. This was it. It makes me wonder, though. Would these irate anti-indie posters have picked this author if he'd have self-published his book? Would they have read Harry Potter if Rowling had self published?

Times are changing. Authors are taking their art back from the publishers. But the world isn't getting the message. Maybe we need a more visible campaign. TV commercials, bus banners, highway billboards. "Buy Indie!" Remember a few years back when farmers got together and advocated local sales of meat, vegetables, and milk? Perhaps we need something similar.    


  1. Couldn't pass by this hard hitting topic "Indie Authors"... I must say, I totally agree with you in every way. I happen to be an "Indie Author" and your post was very well said. There were many occasions I couldn't even get through a book promoted by a well known publisher, so I've been giving thumbs up to all the new talent out there who decided to let the "readers" be the judge of their work...another cool thing about Indie authors are the many Blog Hops and Book Giveaways..all inspired to get their writing in the hands of interested readers...again, great post :) Tina

  2. The anti-indie Amazon customers need a quick trip in a time machine. When the printing press came out, I wonder if anyone said, "I'm not going to buy those handcrafted books anymore now that I can buy a mass marketed copy." Or how about: "I wish people would stop selling hand-knitted sweaters. It's so annoying to sift through all the hand-knitted ones when all I want is a mass-produced synthetic sweater from the Mall.

  3. How can anyone even know? Amazon customers will see my books are published by my company Inspiration Import - NOT that I hide my self-publishing - my company is an INDIE publisher but let's face it with all the vanity publishers that self-publishers are using it is clear as mud. IF you like what you see when you take a peek inside then there is no difference between books (really) - If my artwork was hanging in a famous museum people would goo gaah and pay any price - that is public perception but it is changing daily and some people including traditional authors are a tad worried. No room for dinosaurs in Indie's futures! My latest blog post is about this too.

  4. My first book was published through a POD publisher because I thought that "Wingspan Press" sounded much more professional than my own name under the publisher slot. It was a mistake, one that I'm working to fix now (I'm going to republish under my own name). For my second book, I set myself up as an independent publisher. I had the opportunity to give my "company" a really cool name. Then I decided against it, thinking that I was going to dive into Indie-hood honest and open. Not that giving yourself a name is dishonest. I just wanted absolutely no question or misgivings that I was doing it myself. So my company name is my own name. No masks. I'm actually happier doing it this way. Publishing as an indie was much easier, less expensive, and I feel freer. I am already most of the way into my third and fourth books.

    I figure, if they like my books, cool. If not, it won't stop me from writing them.

    One thing I forgot to mention is that the "How to Avoid Indie Authors" post was at the bottom of my own author's page. I think the forum listings are random when you open an Amazon page, but seriously, maybe they should monitor that a bit. Imagine opening a page about dealing with geriatric diseases and coming across a forum post of "How to avoid old people."

  5. I have to say that I totally agree with you. What a great post! I found you through LinkedIn and am now a new follower. I think what you are doing is amazing and I have a feeling one day all of your hard work will pay off and you will be famous! Just believe in yourself and it will happen. I read your about me and it cracked me up! I hope that I never piss you off! LOL!
    I would love it if you found the time to stop by my site and give it some much needed love!
    Much love and wishing you abundant blessings,

  6. Thanks, Kimmy. I love your without a label site. I read a few of the articles. Good stuff in there. Very inspirational. I marked it on my favorites list and will try to visit often.