What We’re Up Against

Lately I’ve been reading about these amazing flukes of luck in Indie Author Land–multi-book deals, movie options, agents querying the author.  It’s all very motivational and it feels so hopeful.  These stories are a portal to the realization that, without doing anything other than being the best author you can be, beautiful things can happen to you all the time, at any given moment.

But there is a darker side to being an Indie Author.  Some may call them haters…others may associate the hate speech with the guillotine that hangs above every Indie Published book and the reputation that proceeds each new title…I would say it’s a pinch of both…but still…it’s darn good to know what we’re up against so we can arm ourselves accordingly

Amazon offers “Kindle Forums”…where real Kindle readers cluster to discuss.  I don’t frequent it often, but in passing I noticed a thread entitled—How To Avoid Indie Authors (ouch, that hurts!).  Yet, I decided not just run from the topic–but to consider their “take” as a master class on the isolated opinions that would polarize me from my dream.  Frankly, I’m always eager to learn from the ignorance or experience of others…to design what I do to prove them wrong–so wrong it hurts.

Here are a few sample quotes…

When Amazon opened up self-publishing for the kindle, everyone and their dog has suddenly become an “author,” and every rejected manuscript resurrected as a kindle “book.” I have no problem with amateurs posting their stuff to share online in a writer’s forum, but must their writings be intermingled with real books in the kindle store? Is there some way to hide them or weed them out when browsing and searching. It’s annoying to have to wade through all that garbage which has multiplied like a rat infestation in the Kindle store. courtesy of : Greg

Dear Greg,

I wrote a “book”.  It’s 100k words, and I wrote it in 4 months.  It was long process and it required every inch of self-control, dedication and deep love that a traditionally published book requires.  It’s real, and despite what you may believe to be a universal truth–it is, very much, a book, no quotations required.  You are under no obligation to purchase it–and I’d probably prefer if you didn’t.  No sense in subjecting you to my literary “garbage”.  I believe my feelings are probably shared by the others you harbor so much contempt for as well.

Greg, we do what we love.  We share what we love.  We pour over the words and characters and world we create with enthusiasm and joy–sometimes with heartbreak and frustration.  We intend the book to be enjoyed…so if you can’t or won’t simply because we’re not “traditional”…then it’s genuinely your loss–and for that, you have my sincere condolences.

Kindle and Nook ought to flag books that are self-published. At least then we think to check the book out a bit more closely. For me its the copy editing that makes me gnash my teeth and use words my mother would not approve of! courtesy of : KesterGayle

Dear KesterGayle,

It’s good to always check a book out–you might find something you’d enjoy.

I agree that the covers are a major clue. Indie book artwork and graphics are usually abysmal. But an even better clue is the absence of professional reviews. If all you see is a product description and/or quotes from anonymous sources you know it’s an indie. courtesy of : Danica

Dear Danica,

Since artwork and graphics tend to be one in the same…can you really take issue with both?  Or, did you mean font but simply fell victim to your own bad, confusing writing?  Maybe? If so, welcome to the party–writing what you mean to say can be a tricky skill to master. But, all of that aside, yes, I’ll agree with your point, covers are important.  Did you realize most covers–Indie or Traditional–are purchased from similar places?

I suggest we petition the federal government of the United States to create an Independent Author Advisory Board to decide for us what books can be published. This will weed out all the “undesirable” content from being sold. We need to censor all this garbage. Think of it like exterminators for infestation of freedom of press. courtesy of : New Girl!!

Dear New Girl!!

Your ideals fascinate me for the simple ignorance of them.  Amazon is an American owned and operated company…and in America, dear New Girl, we have this wonderful thing called Freedom Of Press–which, thankyouverymuch, doesn’t practice extermination.  Obviously you’re new…but look it up, girlfriend 🙂

Even calling them ‘authors’ is pushing it. Yes, wipe them out. 🙂 courtesy of : Greg (again)

Oh Greg,

It saddens me to see that–despite how simple it seems–you’re unfamiliar with the definition of an author…here, let me help you Greg.  An Author is defined by someone who has written a book, article or report.  Indie is simply a catch term given and used…but, it’s all the same…an author is an author is an author.  Cheers to all the wordsmiths out there!

Psst: You may want to buff up on the proper use of quotations–you use them in all the wrong places.

**names removed for privacy of the innocent** … Stop the self promotion please. That is the problem with indie . They just cannot help but promote their more often than not unreadable/boring work. Either use their friends or gang up together to self-promote covertly passing as unbiased readers. courtesy of : athenadsb

Dearest athenadsb,

Per chance you don’t understand that promotion–in many forms–is part of the job?  Even traditionally published authors promote their work, day in and out.  Your favorite author?  I’m sure has trudged the path of self promotion.  And, on a side note, I didn’t realize our friends weren’t allowed to enjoy our books?  News to me…but I’ll make sure to promote that in the future.

Indie writers: stop being so pathetic, even that Norwegian neo-Nazi killer had the decency of not publishing his 1500 + mein-kampf-ish jibber jabber to Amazon Kindle, learn to be as decent as him, that’s not too much to ask, or you’re just tooo needy and want to poison us with your venom. courtesy of : Brandenberg

Dearest Brandenberg,

Adolf Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf” (the title should be capitalized, by the way) in 1925 with a second edition published in 1926.  Amazon.com was founded in 1994 and went live in 1995.  Obviously, as you can see, there was no cross over.  However–I believe had Hitler been given the chance…he’d pushed that hate speech out at every turn–he was nothing if not self indulgent.

And…since I can’t let this slide without saying something…

To liken an Indie Author to Hilter is disgusting, it’s wrong, it’s vile and you should be embarrassed.  Nothing you say; before, during or after, will ever be relevant again–it was a nonsensical baseless comparison.  What Hilter did was exactly the opposite of what we, as authors, do.  We sell stories–not hate.  We believe in freedom to say what you want and be who you are–clearly a different agenda then the above mentioned.

I’ll be waiting for that apology, Bradenberg.

***

I think we’ll close the quote portion of this entry with Brandenberg ranking us below Hilter on the decency scale–seems like a good place to me…you?

What I walk away with (after seventeen plus pages of that full on bashing) is that in every dismal compliant there is a spark of truth (save for Bradenberg–but he’s his own man).  And that spark of truth is how we crawl from under the stigma of “just Indie” to be taken seriously as contenders, as good writers and good people.  It’s what we learn from the bad comments that earn us the good comments–the one’s the are listed below the title of our books.  People don’t hand out gold stars and stickers on effort when you’re a grown up doing grown up things–you have to work for it, and if you put in the energy and the money and the balls-to-walls effort…then–and only then– do the accolades come in droves.

Let’s put their objections to good use…they are just readers after all…

-Book covers.  Apparently they matter–a lot.  The age-old saying of “don’t judge” needs to be trashed.  Our covers are judged, probably to higher standard.  Effort needs to be outgoing and the product needs to be outstanding.

-Editing.  Just do it.  Hire an editor, find a beta-buddy…pause yourself, cool your heels…take the time to make it right from jump street.  If you publish a error-ridden work, it’s just that–error ridden.  Stop expecting anyone to read through your clumsy phrasing, and mistakes…they won’t and you lose.  It’s of paramount importance.  Raise the bar–and then rise up to meet it.

-Promotion.  Do it where it should be done.  Put your energies towards the places where you’ll be rewarded.  Every author promotes–interviews, press releases…but bite your tongue at the times where you’d appear to be selling snake oil.  The best promotion is the one that allows your reap the benefits of it…everything else is just clutter.

-Quotes.  If you’re going use them, let them stand for something.  Find reviewers and capture the best phrase of praise and use it!  Be proud of what’s being said–give credit where credit is due.

It can all be done.  Like I said before–prove them wrong.

I’m going to hand off the blog clincher  to Doobie Doobie who will say it better than I ever could….

All of the following were self-published…recognize any of the names?

Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
John Grisham, A Time to Kill
L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics
Irma Rombauer, The Joy of Cooking
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Richard Paul Evans, The Christmas Box
Jack Canfield and Mark Hensen,Chicken Soup for the Soul
James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy
Beatrix Potter, creator of the Peter Rabbit Classic Series

Also, here are some more self-published authors:
Thomas Paine – Edgar Allan Poe – T.S. Elliot – Carl Sandberg – Gertrude Stein – Deepak Chopra – Upton Sinclair – D.H. Lawrence – George Bernard Shaw – e.e. cummings – Henry David Thoreau – Virginia Woolf – Margaret Atwood – Tom Clancy – Stephen Crane

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4 thoughts on “What We’re Up Against

  1. Dear Lord, so much vitriol! I mean, goodness, I hate typos as much as the next person (possibly more), but to liken a simply poor editor to Nazis?? That one might even insult Hitler! (“Is that all I am to you? A sup-par manuscript, cluttering up the works? Clearly, I haven’t murdered enough people.”)

    I would have hoped that the general public understood that the act of self-publishing a book is not a low-quality guarantee. If lousy books can make it through the gauntlet of traditional publishing (and we all know they do; frequently; typos, crazy grammar, character names on the jacket that don’t match who you’ll see in the pages, straight-up bad writing… I can’t be the only one who’s noticed these things!), why shouldn’t it be plausible that great books can hit the shelves by the Indie route?

    And that goes for book covers, too. There’s no reason why a self-pubbed book cover can’t blow your socks off with the best of ’em. If anything, self-pubbing is the perfect opportunity to get a *better* cover than you might otherwise get stuck with. (We’ve all heard how little author say-so has to do with cover art decisions, right?) In fact, scratch that: It’s the perfect opportunity to get your book made *exactly the way you want it*. So WANT EXCELLENCE, and get ‘er done! To echo the advice in the post, “Raise the bar — and then rise up to meet it.”

    That these haters have been given the excuse to hate is at least partly our bad. (Not that I’m a technical part of that “our”, since I’ve not self-published anything, but I’ve placed myself in the writers’ camp, so whatever, I can help shoulder the blame for a sec.) Again, I’m with the post, on this one: Get out there and prove them so wrong that it hurts.

  2. Wonderful post! It really makes you think hard about how your work looks before you publish. I think many of the comments there are unreasonable but like you’ve said, there is a grain of truth in them. However, it doesn’t have to be true. Either way I would never allow others perceptions stop me from working on my life long dream to be an author.

    • And you shouldn’t. No way. I took the thread on the Kindle Forum to mean only that there is room for improvement…space to grow and to change the perceptions. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s a few opinions, that’s all. And if we all collectively work on them…we can them.

  3. The other side of the coin (or a different face of the die) is that your book can’t/won’t please everybody, and perhaps indie artists should avoid worrying about pleasing people who flat out refuse to consider indie works. It’s not just books — I know people who refuse to use high-quality open source software because it’s not commercially published. I know people who won’t give indie music even a brief listen but they’ll soak up whatever drivel is shoved past their earlobes via multi-million-dollar advertising budgets.

    This is not an excuse – and there should never be an excuse – for publishing sub-par work. And maybe it is too easy right now to publish things without something to pierce the naive bubble that can surround a new self-publisher. Maybe Amazon et al should prompt indie authors with a quality control checklist for each new title. Did you run spellcheck? Did you have a paid editor or at least (n) unpaid editors? Have you shown your cover to at least (n) people who are not family or friends and received their honest feedback? And so forth. If any answer is no, let the indie publisher know they’re not doing themselves or anyone else a favor by publishing sub-par work.

    But am I going to lose any sleep over not pleasing people whose product and market comprehension is so low that they have to have things presented by a corporate marketing department to find them acceptable? No. They represent the worst of the consumer mindset and I don’t care what they “think.”

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