What’s Wrong with Independent Writers?


Since starting my review blog I have received a great deal of email from independent writers asking me to review their books, and I am always more than happy to do so; so what is wrong with the independent writer?  Nothing at all.

As readers we can lean towards being very elitist and snobbish when it comes to what we spend our time on, and this is often to the detriment of this hard writing group of people.  I understand we all have our favourites, and there is nothing wrong in that; I have a couple of best-selling Authors I thoroughly enjoy, but when we lean towards them and dismiss the self-published indie writer as being a hack we are not only doing ourselves a disservice, we are  undermining the time and effort these Authors have invested into their work and possibly deterring them from pursuing something they are really rather good at.

I have to state here that these are just my opinions and musings on this subject and not all reading this will agree, but if you are one of those readers who will only pick up a book that has been given mega stars on Goodreads and stellar reviews in The New York Times or The Guardian newspapers, let me say you are missing out on a whole new experience.  Personally I never read reviews or other people’s opinions on a book I’m interested in until after I have finished it and reviewed it myself, after all I assumed that was why books have a synopsis on the back cover or fly-leaf.

In my experience indie writers are a humble bunch of folks, they take constructive criticism well and do not play the diva card when it comes to reviews.  They are grateful for any readership they can get, as they know that with this readership comes word of mouth, more people reviewing their work and maybe, just maybe they will come to the notice of a reputable publishing house.  Indie writers do not get bent out of shape when their book is given less than the three star review they think it deserves, and truly understand that what they write may not be to everyone’s taste.  So why are readers so quick to dismiss them?

I think there will never be a hard and fast answer to this question, but feel that the way the world is has a great deal to do with it.  we now live in a society where everyone wants it NOW, and if they have just read a great book in a series, they don’t want to hang around waiting for the next.  Anticipation seems to have died in this day and age; I love the anticipation of the next one in the series and, as I did recently with one indie Author, did not begin reading their trilogy until I had all three books firmly in my possession.  Books are meant to be savoured and enjoyed; they are worlds that have been loving constructed and developed by their creators; they are meant to be strolled through, not driven through at a 100 mph pace. The Indie Author has a better grasp on this than the best-selling Author, in my opinion, as they strive to make each new work better than their last; the best sellers are almost akin to production line items and after a while tend to take on the personality and characteristics from previous novels.

As much as I love indie writers there is one failing that majority of them seem to fall into, and that is with their book covers. I understand that for the most part they are funding the publication of their work themselves, but for a lot of readers the cover art is what make them want to read the synopsis, and then the book as a whole; my thing is book covers, if I love a cover the synopsis will be read, if the cover doesn’t appeal to me I will probably put down what might have being an outstanding read.  So what is it about the covers that I personally dislike?  I dislike the stock photo covers, in fact I’m not a big fan of photographic covers at all unless they are part of a montage that relates to the contents.  Covers that reach out to me are artwork (if that is the correct term to use) in themselves, if not they are usually something that I’ve not seen on a cover before, and that leads me to read the summary.  I can often scroll through Amazon and see several indie books with the same cover, and none of them will get looked at further.

Yes, I guess this makes me an elitist snob with regards to the cover art of books I read, but when it comes to the contents Indie writers have as much need to be read as those up in the best-selling charts and, for this reader they are more often than not a lot more palatable.


13 thoughts on “What’s Wrong with Independent Writers?

  1. That’s quite a nice piece, Cate. There are gems in the indie-PEN-dent bunch that only ask to be discovered.

    Besides, some of the big house best selling series are just sketched by the big name author, the books are written by ghost writers paid by the word and working on a line dictated by the . It’s an assembly line.

    Those serious independent authors can be the best a reader can find around. Cherish and help them write another book. 🙂

  2. I have to say, you are very generous with your time as a reader. I would have only assumed that indie writers were ignored by those who prefer top of the notch grammar with their stories. Its not to say this is the downside to being an indie author since the two sides tend to seesaw with one another. Their are different level of readers just like their are different level of writers. One thing is true though and that’s the reality that there is no denying the internet so with time all will be forced to take the independent route. The digital Markey just hasn’t reached that turning point just yet

    • I’m very old school Antonio and would read a print copy over a digital copy day. However, if reading a digital copy and then reviewing it on here means an Indie Author gets their name out on the digital highway, I’m more than willing to read it. Supporting Indie Authors, to me, is no different to supporting the ‘Mom and Pop’ stores that big chains seem to be hell bent on disposing of.

    • Top notch grammar is also part of the Indie world. Sure, still a majority is lacking on that respect, but the gap is closing (and in some cases way more than closed, already) with the traditional editions. Publishing houses have cut costs and everyone from mid-list down get junior editors at their first job.

      It’s a myth that just because a book comes from a publishing house then the grammar is perfect and if it is Indie it is not.

  3. Great article, Cate. The cliché about not judging a book by its cover is severely tested when it comes to books. That’s okay, and how many, like yourself, determine what to spend a bit more time on. I tend not to judge a book by its cover; rather the synopsis and sample are the keys for me to unlock my account and purchase a book. I guess I should caveat that statement. If the cover is totally crap, I’ll probably not go further…lol.

    But, the real meat of your article, support for Indie authors, is right on. As an indie, I can gladly confirm your statements and offer one addition. There are, unfortunately, a number of indie authors who…well, should be doing something else with their time. I would never presume to take away their dream of publishing a book, but I would urge readers to not judge an indie writer by the books of the less capable. There are many very good writers…and a few excellent authors who work under the indie author label.

    • I’m trying to get away from the immediate cover response and more into the ‘well the cover maybe meh, but there might be a gem inside’ frame of mind. Unfortunately too many readers judge other Indie Authors, or the later works of one they didn’t enjoy by a single experience.

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