Indie Authors Are Killing Great Writing

I recently read a post with the premise that being able to indie publish so easily is improving our writing.  With all due respect to that author (who indeed took the criticism she received and worked on her writing), I have to disagree.  The dirge of bad indie authors is in fact killing good writing.  Why?

In The Days Long Gone

Back in the days before the Kindle and ebook publishing, here’s how one usually got a book published:

You had an idea for a book, you sat down and wrote it, and you went to the library and check out The Writer’s Marketplace, or another book about agents and publishing.  In these books you found out how to query agents.  You might’ve read some of the tips on making sure your story was publishable.  Then the Internet grew and you could look for this information online.  You queried agents and if you got no response, you knew that most likely:

  • your query sucked
  • your book sucked
  • or both

The smart authors went back and checked their novel and tried to make it better.  The even smarter authors read books, took writing classes, talked to published authors, and went to conferences and talked to agents and editors, and learned how to improve as a writer.

Those smart authors improved their books.  They looked at:

  • using active vs. passive voice
  • clichés and stereotypes
  • strong verbs
  • showing vs. telling
  • using too many adverbs
  • dangling participles
  • unclear language
  • is the story just flat boring
  • and so on

Once these things, and more, were corrected, they queried again, and with great writing and a little luck, got agents and book deals.  If you don’t believe me, look at the indie god, JA Konrath, as an example.  Read reviews of some of his self-published works (stories that were rejected by agents).  They tend not to get the great reviews of his other books…why?  Because they were earlier works and not as good as the books that he got an agent for.  He’d learned his craft and improved his writing.

Then you had those authors that, against all reason, still felt they had a great book.  They self-published, and for the most part, gave self-publishing a bad name because the books weren’t good (I know, there are exceptions).  You would think authors would learn….

That Was Then, This Is Now

Now you have people who write a book and publish it with very little or no editing.  They have no idea how to make a story active and engaging.  They tell a story, not show it.  They have poor covers.  And on and on.  They glut the market with sub-par books, and then wonder why they don’t sell.  They wonder why people tell them the story isn’t very good.

Here’s a bit of advice: don’t publish until you KNOW your book is good.  And this means more than just having your spouse, friend, roommate, kid or whoever, tell you it’s good.  I would recommend:

  • querying to agents, just to get a feel for the responses.  If you get none, you probably need to take a look at your book
  • getting your book professionally edited and see what improvements you can make (this is an absolute must and it’s worth the money)
  • joining a writer’s group where you can get HONEST feedback about your work
  • getting other authors to read your book, people who will give you an HONEST opinion

There are GREAT indie authors out there, absolutely.  Make sure you are one of them by putting the best possible product out there.

Don’t Believe Me?

Here are some excerpts from a review that I read.  This is a well-respected site, but I am keeping out the details about the author and book because I don’t want to offend this person.  There are some great points here that every indie author should ask about their own books.  Here are the excerpts:

I cannot recommend this book. As many who read my reviews know, I try to support indie authors. The number of good quality indie books is increasing and they are fast becoming the only route for new authors to achieve recognition, especially since the main publishing houses are loathe to gamble on new authors. However, this is not a good quality indie book. Readers rule, and they deserve more.

The author bludgeons the reader with a hackneyed plot, stereotypical characterization, stilted dialog, and poor editing.  Let’s consider the plot: A stereotypical PI with baggage all the way back to childhood agrees to meet with a stereotypical damsel in distress who is subsequently murdered. She’s a beautiful (is this a Bogart movie?) FBI agent with the stereotypical key to a safe deposit box belonging to a not-so-stereotypical and famous movie star. A stereotypical shadow government run by a stereotypical power-hungry U.S. senator wants that key. The military arm of the shadow government is a shadow organization hiding within the FBI, but the true FBI and this military arm as conceived by the author are more similar to the CIA. Agents within the FBI end up working for the shadow government without realizing it.

Most of the characters here speak in a stilted fashion.  [the plot]…is unreal!

I was able to finish this book by struggling through all the above, editor’s pen in hand and often thinking, “Where is he going? What does this mean? Whoa, who’s this speaking?”

There are many good indie authors that will entertain and inform you—look for them. This author, in fact, has done them a disservice. He has helped perpetuate the myth that indie writing is slipshod. I’m not sure why. If you can’t edit your own product, you can always hire someone to do it. Why bludgeon the reading public with another poorly written book? It’s a terrible mistake to self-publish an (sic) MS full of errors in spelling, grammar, and style. Too many indie authors do so and they give us all a bad name.

Brutal, huh...

But this reviewer is completely right.  And as a kicker, I looked up this author on Amazon.  The author obviously did not use this review, but I saw another Amazon review that, based on what the above review said of the author’s writing, I had to wonder if the author wrote himself.  Here’s the Amazon review:

What a grate story, this is a page turner I love every page. The author make me live every moment of the story as if I was part of it. I highly recommend it.

Really? The review is grammatically incorrect and has spelling errors.  This isn’t going to make me want to buy the book.

Whew!

Talk to me.  I’m one who will give you an honest review, and I want them in return.  I’ll read excerpts if you want and offer my opinion.  I’ll help you with marketing.  We can help each other learn to be better writers.  I believe in helping each other out…there are plenty of readers who want great books.  Let’s give the books to them.

CONTEST!!

Don’t forget the contest for a FREE KINDLE!  Details on my website at www.reneepawlish.com.  If you have a Kindle, winning one would make a great gift.

Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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42 Responses to Indie Authors Are Killing Great Writing

  1. I would love to have your insights on my book. How can we get that to happen?

  2. Jason Darrick says:

    That review has been making the rounds, I’ve seen it referenced 3 times now. I agree with almost all of your tips for improvement. It’s a personal gripe, but I won’t query an agent unless I’m willing to work with them.

    There are terrible books being published in every format, I don’t think it’s a sign of the indie times as it were, I think it’s more that society has shifted and producers are concerned with content/marketing instead of story/skill.

    • Agreed on the agent, but I guess I thought that’s a given as part of querying lol. But I do think way too many indies are publishing when they shouldn’t. I’d still say that if you took a hundred indie books, you might find a couple that really stand out. If you took a hundred by traditional publishers, many more of them would stand out. You can find a bad egg in any carton, of course, but the indies shouldn’t shoot themselves in the foot by putting something out before it’s completely polished (no pun intended). Thanks Jason for the great reply.

  3. I’m really sorry here people, but this crap is laughable. In my 62+ years I have waded through some horribly written books that were pushed by traditional publishers. Now comes the age of self published books, many of which are bad. sure. Nothing new here. You can go drop twenty bucks for a bad movie and complain less than many of you folks do about a bad 2.99 book. Sorry, can’t feel bad for you. There will always be great writing, and crappy writing, and the cream will rise to the top. The bad will not ruin the good, it just is what it is.

  4. sakib says:

    Thanks for the tips. I am not going to publish my book, I write just for pleasure. Still, I think I should give more importance to proper grammar. Choosing the right word is always a crucial problem for me.

  5. kdmccrite says:

    Good writing does not trip lightly off the pen or keyboard. It is a craft, an art, and as such should be lovingly practiced. Whether a person wants to pursue traditional publishing or prefers to go the self-publishing route, the reader deserves a good quality product. A poorly written book guarantees the author will not have an audience beyond his family and close friends.

    Think of editing as the difference between getting dressed in your sweats for a day of hanging around doing housework, and getting yourself dressed up for an evening on the town. Either way, you’re dressed, but in the latter, you’re going to knock ‘em dead.

  6. I would like to point out that receiving no response to a query may not reflect the quality of the actual manuscript, but rather the effectiveness of the query itself.

  7. What a great blog and you back it up by offering to give your honest and educated opinion – not something easily attainable for us writers these days. I am doing a degree in creative writing to improve my craft and have improved my editing skills after the first year, so can’t wait to see what I’m doing after the four years is up. I worry that if the majority of books are crap, readers will get used to it and drag the whole thing down to a new level of low expectations, and writers will make less effort and produce even crappier books. I hope that doesn’t happen. I would love to get some of your feedback and I am happy with honest and brutal, nice doesn’t help anyone if it’s not truthful. Thanks

    • Thanks for your comments and you bring up valid points. The more I got to thinking about the comment about cream rising to the top (from Prudence), I have to disagree somewhat. There is a lot of crap that has risen to the top, and a lot of good stuff that hasn’t. Stephen King even pointed this out a few years back when he did a review about a book that “no one would ever read” because the author in question couldn’t get noticed. I applaud you for taking the time to learn your craft – that’s what all authors should do before they ever attempt to publish, but unfortunately, too many don’t. I have your email and I would be happy to look at a sample and give my humble opinion.
      And I also do see people giving up on indie authors (as you say) because they’ve been burned by poor writing. It’s a shame….

  8. The percentage of crap to good has always been about 99:1. It’ll still be 99:1. There are people who are willing to work at their craft, and there are the rest.

    Nothing will kill great writing. There will be more great writers who can get their work in front of people with self-publishing. And there will still be the 99% crap.

    • Yeah, I had to have a catchy title, though. :) Seriously, it’s still a valid point that authors SHOULD hone their craft before publishing. Obviously too many won’t and that’s sad. Thanks for you comment.

  9. I don’t think indie publishing is ruining good writing. I agree with Jason Derrick that there has always been good and bad writing from commercial publishers. While the big houses tend to at least copy-edit work, that hasn’t kept cliches and stereotype diction and plots from being published. How else did they become stereotypes and cliches?

    In fact, your example makes a good case for indie writing. I have read some excellent books fy independent authors. If quality were the only qualification for getting a book published, authors like Richard Sanders, James Birch and SL Pierce would have contracts.

    Commercial publishers rightly feel threatened by the growth of the independent e-publisher. They’re losing market share. At the same time, the market is growing. I read more books in total now that I have an e-reader.

    Commercial publishers’ response has been to go with what’s safe, and that means publishing established names and celebrities. It’s exponentially more difficult for a new, unknown novelist to get published. Most agents are not even looking at new manuscripts today.

    As for the overall quality of writing – let the market decide! Bad books and bad authors become known directly, without the support or mask of a commercial publisher. Once the stigma of “self-publishing” (which you are, inadvertently or not helping to support) wears off, good independent authors will gain well-deserved audiences.

    • Not necessarily. Some are pointing out that good authors will rise, but that’s not always the case. I’m sure we can all point out great authors mainstream published that never gained traction, and there are indie authors who will suffer the same fate. My overall point is to appreciate your craft enough to care about making your works quality before publishing. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, but way too many indie authors don’t care enough. That’s too bad. And for years it’s been hard for newbies to get a contract, even before the ebook revolution.
      Thanks for the insightful comments.

  10. R.W. says:

    Ms. Pawlish,
    We also used to burn people at the stake for showing signs of being gifted. We no longer use lanterns, rather flashlights. Should we halt all progress of how modern technology is taking us just because…”it used to be….” type thinking? Come on…get with the NOW and go with it or step aside. Your choice. MANY Indie writers have been discovered, I myself have a novel and script based upon the novel, in the works with being made into a feature film by a very well-known director/producer in L.A. He didn’t see me as a thorn in the agented writers….so why should YOU? Is it because you have not written anything of value or just afraid to make that leap of faith? You show extreme dislike for a process that is improving how WE the readers are able to make selections. If a book is good…it’s good! If it’s bad…then we don’t recommend it…we don’t read it again. That simple! Nothing to do with if they have an agent or not. Many writers are sitting and sitting and sitting…not colleting a dime because they are waiting on that agent to give them the THUMBS up. Hogwash! I am about taking chances…and going the extra mile. It is WAY harder for an Indie writer to become successful than an agented writer who has an agent searching out for potential buyers, rallying readers, posting messages on at least a dozen sites per day, answering messages about the novel, promoting…promoting and more promoting that one work, while working on the next BIG IDEA. So you see…WE INDIE writers, are not lazy or trying to hurt your egos by stepping out of that mundane line you have placed yourself in…WE are showing we are the next stage of evolution in the writing process. True…not all Indie writers are worth merritt,,,,YET! But, given enough bad revues (we all have been there) and TIME…they can succeed. Just have to press on even when someone says NO! So…please…I implore you…reconsider your standing with a group of people who are well worth the second thought.

    Best,
    R.W.
    CUT – Rewind, The Gift / The Curse and the children’s book series, Smoky Mountain Bedtime Tales.

    • RW, perhaps you should’ve explored the blog and checked up on me before assuming I’m not a) an author and b) not an indie. I am in fact an indie author with a great track record of well-received indie books. And I am all for indies pushing the boundaries and taking chances…I have many a time. But there are WAY too many indies who don’t make a solid attempt to make their work good, let alone great, before they publish. And as someone who tries extremely hard to put a quality product out there, it’s insulting to my craft. I would implore you to encourage other indies to put good writing out there – it only helps us all :)

  11. LKWatts says:

    In order to be self published you MUST have a professional copy editor go over your work. I can’t understand the people who don’t recognise and appreciate this vital point. Of course, you can ignore everything the editor says but at least they want to try and prevent you making a world class fool out of yourself.

    • I would agree but too many don’t. Another point might be “don’t be cheap” because I see so many indies not want to spend any money on their craft, or in learning how to market and so on. Thanks for your comment.

  12. Hi Renee,
    I had to reply to this because you are spot on. And before I get slammed for taking this stand, I want to say that I’m an indie author, I’ve started my own publishing company, and I’m a staunch supporter of indie and small press authors (see my blog The Kindle Book Review). I’d love to have an agent, but I’m okay with not having one, too.

    Having said that, I confess that I am one of those writers who, a few years back, wrote a novel and self published it with a clue as to what I was doing. Therefore, I like to give the writers out there who make indies look bad the benefit of the doubt. Many of them simply do not know that they need to get a professional edit, professional cover, etc, etc.
    I know.
    I was one of them.

    I think there is a faulty mindset that each writer has get over…it’s called pride. Newbies think their book is “da shit”, when in fact, to the untrained, unexperienced, lone-ranger type author, that IS NOT always the case, as much as they’d like it to be. It takes many eyes and objective opinions to nail a novel. You CANNOT do it alone; not well anyway. But hey, lets give these newbies a break (This obviously does not apply to all first time authors). What they need is to be educated on what it REALLY takes to be successful in self-publishing. Practice. Outside opinions. Author interaction. Reading. An editor. Study.
    When I received my first review that said I had, “poor writing skills”, I knew I had to do something different. That’s when I began to take my writing seriously, study, and get educated on what a great book looks like. Since then, I’ve written a book that’s been on the Amazon bestseller list for ghost stories for six months straight and is getting great reviews, with another supernatural thriller on the way (Twisted Vengeance).

    The point is, Renee is correct in assuming that technology is hurting the perception that some readers have of indie authors, because there is no filter to screen the bad apples, and there are many, who are putting out crap. On the otherhand, the professional indies, the ones who take the trade seriously and utilize professional editors are improving the way readers see indie authors.

    In the end, we live in a free market where quality and price will win the day as it always has regarding our economy (i.e. the Kindle, now $79 ~ ebooks 99¢-$2.99). If you write great stories and offer a great price and your product is good, you will do well. If you makes lemons, you will be run out of town. The truth is, no one will ever RUIN great writing. Great writing is and always will be great. Likewise, junk will always be junk.

    ***If you’re a newbie, I wrote an article regarding how to succeed in self-publishing at The Writing Bomb. Please read it. It will make your life easier, help you understand the ways of the indie revolution, and help us all look better. Renee, I hope you’re okay with this (If not, I’ll remove it) Link ~> http://thewritingbomb.blogspot.com/2011/10/keys-to-self-publishing-success.html

    • Thank you Jeff for such an insightful reply. I think it’s amusing that some of the posts assume I must not be an indie writer, because how could I say this if I was one. The point, like you say, is that junk will always be there, but as indie authors, let’s do a better job of not perpetuating the junk. I support the indie movement, and one of the ways I do is to be honest with writers, pointing out the downsides as well as the upsides.
      For those of you who haven’t visited Jeff’s site, please do! He is very supportive of indie authors and he is a talented writer as well.

  13. What is this ‘filter’ that people are so worried we have lost with the rising tide of indie publishing? I agree with all the previous people who made the comment that the legacy publishing industry didn’t always protect us from bad writing. It is a myth that simply because a writer lands an agent and gets a book deal that the writing is good, valuable, or something that will endure. Clearly that is the case sometimes, but publishing is a business and a business is interested in making money. If a poor writer happens to hit the market with the right kind of crap, at the right time, he or she could end up a best selling, agented writer. There never was any ‘filter’ beyond one’s own judgment as a discerning reader. We may have more to filter now, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact, I enjoy knowing that the only gatekeeper to the ideas and stories I access is me, choosing for me, based on what I believe is valid criteria. As long as there’s a sample for me to read before I have to buy, I’m happy to take the 30 seconds to see if I’m interested in reading more. I prefer that the book be edited, though, and bad editing is one reason that 30 second window ends up being the only time I spend with a given book.

    Thanks, Renee, for posting and inciting such wonderful conversation!

  14. I find it interesting that so many people reference that “mainstream publishing” puts out crap as well. With all due respect, that’s not the point. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Because they do so, doesn’t mean we should do so. We have the control NOT to put out crap.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if indie authors were rising ABOVE the poor editing and bad stories that mainstream publishing is putting out and instead we consistently publish great stuff that is well-written, consistent in storyline, engaging and so on, as well as edited well, instead of most of it being crap? Take enough pride in what you’re doing to make sure it’s really awesome before you publish…what’s wrong with saying that?

  15. One problem with indie publishing that you didn’t really address is a tendency to assume your work is good, even lacking evidence to support that position. ;) In other words, if you publish, and the book is not selling, there is a tendency for one to assume that you just need more marketing, and the book will make buckets of sales.

    Which might be true. But if it’s one of your first ten novels, it’s much more likely (percentage wise) that your writing needs more work. First million words being your apprentice work, and all that… Under the old system, if one’s book was not accepted for publication, you got a pretty clear sign that you needed to do something different. Under the new, it’s much harder to gauge.

    That said: things change. Time rolls on. You mention submitting to agents, but even that is new… I recall a time when most writers submitted to publishers, and only hired agents for big deals. Agents becoming mandatory was a way for publishers to foist the expense of reading slush onto writers, and it’s relatively recent. The industry has changed numerous times over the last few decades.

    The thing about indie books is, the really bad ones aren’t going to sell anyway. People sample before they read, today. So they’re going to see the bad sample and pass, no matter what the price is. Writing a good book is not a guarantee at finding readers, but writing a really bad one is a surefire way to NOT get readers, if you follow me. What’s changed is that now the responsibility to deciding when your work is good enough rests on the shoulders of the individual writer. Writers who can do this well will have a much greater chance of success than those who cannot.

    • I thought of that (assuming your work is good) and figured I would address it in a future post, but thanks for pointing it out. And using agents was just one suggestion, and you are right about them being just one way to gauge things. It’s true that people sample works, but there is now so much more out there to sample. It would be nice to cut that number down so the good writing doesn’t have to fight so hard to be noticed. I’ve said in a few replies that it would be nice if the individual indie writer took more pride in what he/she was doing to make sure their works are awesome before publishing, but that would mean taking more time than many seem to want to. It’s too bad because they are only hurting their chances of selling and being discovered. Thanks for your insightful comments.

  16. R.W. says:

    I still believe writers…PERIOD…be Indie or not, have the right to write. It is up to the consumer/readers to make intelligent and wise decisions on what they read. We can only hope they will read our work…again Indie or otherwise. I don’t believe in making other writers feel like they are subjected to being less than, because they are new. Novels can be just pages of words…or it can be a vehicle to transport the mind and soul. Hopefully, my writing has done so. And because my work is being considered for a feature film, makes it no-less worthy of merritt or value (yes, I got your dig…I mean pun). Honestly, I have fought harder being an Indie writer than I would have had I been signed to a deal with an agent. What is an agent anyway? Someone who makes calls, connections and then gets part of your percentage. A publisher..that is a whole different world. But, publishers don’t as a norm, deal with first time authors…UNLESS…you can show them you have cash to invest in yourself, and more novels to follow. In the years it has taken me to get to where I am now, I am appreciative of the very high hurdles I had to leap and climb over to get here. Had I not, I would not have the appreciation for my skills, my craft and in my self. I am more of a determined individual than some…most actually. I believe in never giving up on something you want bad enough. So…word to all the new writers and prospective novelist….do your homework on what you are writing about. Learn to use SPELLCHECK…I have had that as an issue myself. And, when you get rejected or a bad review….make that your inspiration to push harder to impress them the next time. Example of that is….last year this reviewer on Amazon…TORE ME APART for weeks on my then new novel “The Gift / The Curse”. She was not a fan of vampires and made her opinion very very very well known. So…when I was releasing “CUT – Rewind” I approached HER to review for me. SHE agreed to review it, with the understanding she made no promises she would like it or even finish it. 2 weeks later….SHE LOVED IT! She posted her comment on the Kindle version on Amazon for it. She compared me to Stephen King. So…that is an example of how NOT to throw the towel in…or argue with the critics….but LEARN from them and your peers. BUT, DO NOT LOSE SIGHT OF YOUR DREAM OF WRITING!
    There..now I have had my peace…I appreciate and wish all a very prosperous career ahead.
    R.W.

    • Thank your for such a great reply. I absolutely agree with pursuing your dreams and not giving up. And you addressed exactly what I was saying about publishing before a work before it was ready…there are too many resources out there for a writer to hone his/her craft before hitting “publish” on Amazon, and I encourage writers to find and use those resources. This wasn’t about slamming indies, and it’s too bad so many see it that way. It’s about developing your craft before assuming you should publish. And my reason for pushing this issue is that it makes it harder for good/great writing to rise to the top. You’ve had to work harder to be noticed. It doesn’t need to be that way, if people would publish AFTER they’ve honed their craft and gotten all the help they can to make sure their book is good.
      Good luck to you and I wish you all success.

      • R.W. says:

        Thank you and the best to you as well. Just because we might look at the sky differently, doesn’t mean the sky isn’t there. We just have two different perspectives on the subject, not an arguement as some may have perceived my original comment. I was simply taking the stand for the Indie writer who is sitting in their quiet space, bills mounting, kids are sick, snow is piled up to the backdoor, they hate their jobs but see no other way to get out of it shy of winning the lotto and they use their desire to write as their escape. Because, I have many times just wrote, for my own benefit and no one else ever saw what I wrote. Sometimes, writing is that inner voice that is meant to teach us. And sometimes, people watch a MOW or read a great novel about a writer, hint hint…(self-plug for CUT – Rewind) lol…and they decide, “Hey! I can do that.” And, they begin writing. Now, whether or not the written words they scribe onto that notebook or in their laptop will amount to anything…is all upon HOW WELL THEY RE-READ IT OVER BEFORE SHOWING TO SOMEONE….HOW CONNECTED THE STORY IS TO THEIR OWN LIVES….and HOW MUCH OF IT IS JUST BORROWED MATERIAL FROM SOME WRITER THEY READ. When I write, which is daily….I go into my room, laptop and I turn on my MP3 player to music that suits the mood for the writing. This isn’t the practice of other writers that I know. BUT, it works for me, and that is all that counts.

        I just don’t want new beginning writers-to-be, to get the impression, which I found was the case when I first began many moons ago, that there is a “Big Boys/Girls” club. And if you didn’t know someone…you were out of the loop and no one…would impart onto you their wisdom. In today’s technological society we live in, there is no reason why someone cannot research what they are wanting to write about. But, Samuel Clemmons…aka..Mark Twain said it best, “A writer writes what they know.” So, go live life and get inspired by that that is around you BEFORE you write the first word that all writers struggle to do…the first word in your new children’s story, romantic fiction, thriller or whatever your genre is. Take the time to pursue your world around you first and set the mood for what it is you will write about. I personally, do not watch or read anything about the subject I writing about UNTIL I am sure I am done. My DVR is full beyond capacity most times…lol.

        And to you seasoned writers, take the time to impart on your struggles and how you over-came them to the newbies. They are the next stage of US.

        My best to all,
        R.W.

  17. Susan A. says:

    Renee, every time I see a novel full of errors, it drives me crazy. They are glaring and so obvious that it blows me away the author didn’t correct them. The vast majority of the time, it is indies who do this. For every ten indie books I read, at least seven will have this problem to some degree. Does it stop me from reading them? No, it doesn’t, but my expectations have been lowered because of it. You simply can’t expect as much.

    As a book reviewer, I have gotten very frustrated with authors negging my reviews or even commenting on them just because I pointed problems with their work. If they can’t handle criticism, then they shouln’t release their writing to the public and ask people to pay for it. If I’m spending my hard earned money (even if it’s only 99 cents), and using my limited time for reading, I expect the author to have produced a quality product for me to enjoy. Yet some of them get angry at me for saying even one thing is wrong with their book. This causes quite a bit of frustration, but I haven’t given up. Finding those Indie gems makes it all worth the trouble, even if some readers aren’t as patient as I am and will only read trad published books. Yet it shouldn’t be such a difficult process to find good books. You are absolutely right that standards seem to be considerably lower for what everyone thinks is good enough to be published since the advent of ebooks.

    • Thank you. I think some have misinterpreted my comments to mean I don’t like or support indies, and that’s not the case. I think we need to raise our standards, though. I appreciate a reader’s insight and it’s too bad that you get authors who can’t take the criticism. It shouldn’t be that way at all. Thanks for your comments and for supporting indie authors! We DO appreciate it.

  18. Keta Diablo says:

    Hi Renee, great article and so spot on. This is one major negative about Indie publishing. So many writers believe all they have to do is write a book, format it (somewhat) and upload to Kindle. Now, the money will roll in. It’s a sad state of affairs because many Indie authors are trying to break the stigma of “self-published.” As in, “Oh, you’re not a real author.” The best Indie authors are those who have studied the craft, written several manuscripts and read a ton of books BEFORE they upload that first book. Oh, and it helps to care about the editing (a lot). Sadly, this doesn’t happen frequently enough and it gives all authors a bad rap.

    We have an inherent obligation to deliver a quality product to readers. I say readers because they are really the only ones who matter in the end. They pay hard-earned money for a quality read, an escape into another world and we must deliver that. Keep up the great blog posts. It is through education that both writers and readers learn about books and love of the written word.
    Keta Diablo
    http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com

    • Thanks for your comments. I’ve just been reading about the quality of self-published works, some interesting points from a variety of mainstream published authors. I’ll be writing on that soon.

  19. Very interesting take on the situation, Renee. From the comment stream, on this post and my related one, it seems there is confusion between line editing (grammar, typos, some voice) and developmental editing (plot, structure, character, dialog, nuance, more).

    There’s also confusion re: the majors put out bad books, too. Ask yourself: Is that so-called bad book a debut or a third or fourth or tenth novel? Once an author is established the demands and criteria change. Sadly, sometimes quality suffers. But compare your book to a debut and make sure it stacks up against that one.

    I believe that there are indie gems out there. They are few and far between, because great books are few and far between–whatever their source. All we can do is try to get as much feedback as possible, then be willing to go back to the drawing board, so that our book can maybe be one of the great ones.

    • ReneePawlish says:

      Thanks for your comment and a great points. It’s hard to get new (or newer) authors to understand editing differences as you say. Maybe if people keep pointing it out, writers will start to get it :)

  20. Woelf says:

    It is pretty much a case of just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Self publishing, for whatever your reasons (or mine), does not preclude you from having to go through the quality process that ensures your product is the best it can be. That means applying the same standards legacy publishing is using (generally). If you think about it, your story is like your baby that you nurture and love. You don’t want to sent it out in the world unprepared or unprotected. Thoughtful article, thank you.

    • ReneePawlish says:

      Yes, so true. I just read a comment on another blog from a guy who said he couldn’t afford to pay for any editing etc so he relied on family and friends. He went on to say that he wasn’t in it for the money. That’s fine, but my personal opinion is he shouldn’t be publishing if he’s not taking the time to do it right. It’s not just about the money, it’s taking pride in your product, your baby as you say. Thanks for your comment.

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