Why read Indie books

Sticks and Stones

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I don’t generally take “days off”, so if anyone noticed my total absence since Tuesday night, it was because of my usual nemesis otherwise known as Telkom, my dodgy internet provider. I’m only just back online now, but before I get to catching up with everyone I want to share a quickie.

If you’re going to launch any sort of direct attack, you firstly need to have all your facts straight, and secondly, if you’re going to attack authors in particular, you really should try getting your spelling and grammar right. When I came across a vitriolic article, broadly consigning Indie authors and their self-published books to the foulest, most evil smelling nether pit of hell, I originally thought that it had to be a (pretty lame) attempt at humour. And then I realised that it wasn’t intended to be funny at all.

The article How Readers Can Avoid Buying Bad Ebooks by Indie Authors is pretty much a hate spittle froth rant, and normally I would just move on, but it occurred to me that a writer who is just starting out on our crazy beautiful Indie road, and hasn’t actually published yet, might take such drivel to heart, and be totally put off. Also, reading through some of the comments, in one of his replies he says, “…you should be culled and made into bio fuel just like 95% of other indie authors…” Now that’s just plain nasty.

Firstly he mentions stumbling across poorly edited books with abysmal cover art that are wretched reads, and among other things, are “rift” (pardon?) with spelling mistakes. I’m guessing he means rife. Then he goes on to suggest ways and means to “…avoid falling prey to indie writers… I admit that at that point I had to wait a little for my laughter to subside. Yes there are some really bad self-published books out there, but they will get consistently bad reviews, people will stop buying them, and their authors will either have to put in the required time to make them saleable, or give the whole Indie thing a miss. A huge chunk of the massive amount of Indie books out there are one offs, and languish unseen right at the bottom of the rankings. Nobody with a grain of common sense is going to buy such obviously bad books. He must have bought quite a few though, to bring on such a peculiar rant.

Then he says “…Segregation is what we need, but many authors have been crying foul saying that if there is a dedicated indie author section in major online bookstores, no one would browse it. They are right…” Really? So then, nobody would head over to books by K A Tucker? She used Amazon KDP to self-publish several books, including Ten Tiny Breaths, incredibly successfully before being noticed by Simon & Schuster. How about H M Ward? NYT and USA Today #1 Bestselling author, she still is a totally self-published author, and has sold over four million books since she first hit that old publish button on Amazon THREE years ago. Barbara Freethy went the other direction – from traditionally published to self-published. Now, if you look for the name of a traditional publisher in the front matter of her Ebooks you won’t find one. Why did she go Indie? Because traditionally published books go out of print, and publishers don’t actively market them forever. Ebooks are forever though, and Indies who care about writing good books, and sharing their tales with readers do consistantly market for the portion of forever allocated to them.

He does suggest checking to see who published a book before you buy it, and if there is no sign of a traditional publisher, you’re to avoid it like the plague. Sigh. Then he says that Indie authors are too cheap to publish using Createspace, so if an author has a paper book available that means they’re fine to buy. He says “…. If a book is only available as a Kindle Edition, this should raise some serious red flags…” Hang on a bit till the laughter stops. Createspace is free dude – you don’t get cheaper than that, and most established Indie authors do have their books available in paperback versions. It is a choice whether or not to publish paper books, and not an indictment of quality.

Some more genius advice from our worthy writer of inane articles is “…Indie authors traditionally rely on bargain level pricing in order to appeal to readers. The average indie title ranged from .99 to $3.99, whereas the average price of traditionally published material is $9.99 to $18.99. My advice, if you are looking for new books is try and browse from the most expensive books to the least. This might not work in all cases, but should avoid the hundreds of thousands of self-published titles on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Kobo…” Naah fella – I’ve bought most of my traditionally published books when they’ve been on special offer, i.e. 99 cents to $3.99. I bought Stephen King’s Under the Dome for 99 cents. So don’t hold your breath while everyone rushes around looking for $18.99 books to read. $18.99? Seriously?

So yes, there are many terrible Indie published books out there, but they are totally irrelevant to any discerning reader. There is also a golden layer of absolutely brilliant self-published books floating above them, written by Indies who have made it their work to learn the ropes of their business, and to publish the best work that they can, and writers of such very silly articles will make not the tiniest bit of difference to their continuing successes. Sticks and stones old chap, and a little more research maybe, and words like that still won’t hurt us us.