Novels, Novellas, Narratives · Randomness

5 Horrible Truths Behind Indie Authors

October is here, which means everything horrific, ghoulish, and down right spooky have arrived. So what better way to celebrate the coming of Halloween than with the worst thing in the world: the terrible truth.

Being an indie author is tough. You have the freedom to pretty much do anything and everything (within legal and moral limits) you want in terms of writing and promoting your work, but the majority of us will still never see the light of fame. And many don’t want us to.

Although we can be looked upon as entrepreneurs, putting everything we have not only into writing stories but publishing and marketing them all by ourselves, there is a strong stereotypical view that has continued to haunt us. That view is best described by Michael Kozlowki who wrote the article (and I quote) Self-Published Authors Are Destroying Literature. I’m going to rein it in and hold my rant back until the end of this post so I can acknowledge, despite my personal opinions, that some of us are proving Mr. Kozlowki right.

So without further ado, here are the 5 horrible truths behind indie authors.

1. EDITING

Even I’ve been slammed for editing problems, so in the defense of all indie authors, BITE ME. Yes, we should all put our best foot forward, but guess what! Pick up ANY book out there, even the #1 bestseller or an old school classic, and you will find something wrong with it. Grammar, spelling, missing periods – it plagues ALL writers. Editing is extremely important (and some authors out there do produce work that looks like no one has bothered to correct it), but there is a line between editing mishaps in a story, editing mishaps that ruin the story, and editing mishaps that are actually just nitpicking. With my own experience, I’ve had my fair share of “bad editing” reviews, and after looking my story over again to correct these issues, I found that the majority of the complaints were things like this: “I don’t like how that sentence sounds”, “this description sounded weird”, “this is how the paragraph should be written.” Well in case ya’ll didn’t know, the way the book is written is called My Writing Style. It sits next to Cry Me A River and Write Your Own Damn Story, since you made people think its editing when in fact its just you wanting to re-write my descriptions. You make me sick.

Back to the point, those people who nitpicked their way to Amazon and Goodreads still wrote in their reviews that it was a good read. And to be honest, I’d rather have that. If I have to have bad reviews, I’d rather have them say “great plot, poor edit” than “great edit, poor plot.” But seriously, to those specific bad reviewers: go relax in a corner with a dictionary cause your own story needs it.

2. SELF-AWARDING

I think this is something we all kind of do, especially in the beginning. We take every little victory – new follower, new review, new sale – and we hype that shit up like its 1999! You gotta fake it till you make it, right? Well, what starts as self-proclaiming slowly ends up looking like your trying to helplessly prove to the world that you’re good. Some authors go to great lengths to win indie awards and bragging rights that, to be honest, no one has ever heard of before and could have been awarded from a panel of one person who was taking a break from Call of Duty.

Granted there are a few groups of dedicated readers who really are trying to help out indie authors by promoting their work, posting reviews, and giving away swag prizes and entitlement awards. That’s really sweet of them, and they should be applauded for taking the time away from their day to help an unknown’s craft. But will you as an author become a bestseller if you win and post that “brag award” sticker on your cover? Call me if you do.

Another point I’d like to make (which is more of a personal opinion for me) is the whole bestseller status. I’ve seen authors fill their social networks with banners and posts stating how they became a #1 Bestselling Amazon author…..after being in the #1 spot for about 10 minutes…..during a 99¢ or free promo. Now, congrats on holding that spot long enough for someone to click on the page during their lunch break. Even I’ve hit the #1 spot a couple times and it feels great. But dragging that status out and posting it on your bio can look a little self-awarding when after those 10 minutes of fame are up you’ve gone back to the #100 spot that same day which is where you’ve remained (and that’s if you haven’t been slowly pushed back into the 200’s already). Personally, the only way I’m calling myself a #1 Bestselling Amazon author is when my book stays in the #1 spot for over a week at the regular price. To each their own.

3. CELEBRITIES

I hate to say it, but I’m guilty as charged. I’ve tagged and hashtagged my heart out to celebrities in hopes that (1) they see it (HA!) or (2) their fans see it (still waiting for an author interview, HenryCavill.org). Not only do you hope that like-minded swooners will think its awesome that you used their demi-god as a muse for your story, but that maybe – just maybe – that demi-god will know you exist. Neither works. With my experience, there are probably a few people who are following me because I based Henry Cavill as the muse for The Benighted or Luke Evans for my next novel Under A Melting Sun, but not enough of them to make an outstanding difference.

Image result for henry cavill gifs

At the end of the day the story will have to stand on its own cover and make its name the good ol’ fashion way: by being a good story. But then again, old habits die hard which is evident in the fact that I just tagged two celebrities and one of their big fan bases in this post. #OhSnap #CantTouchThis #HenryCavill #LukeEvans #BeforeTheyWereFamous #NaysersGonnaNaysay

4. REVIEWS

We all know indie authors are to reviews as zombies are to brains: we desperately want them. Often indie authors will swap their books for reviews in order to get one, and that’s usually in the middle of them whoring out their books for free to almost anyone who will take it. This is when true characteristics come out, because sometimes those other authors are shady.

When I swap books, I try to review books on a positive tone, even if the book is horrendous. There is a way to be honest yet tactful, and because I know how it feels to be blown out of the water by trolls, I don’t like scrutinizing fellow indie authors. Plus, I know that my own book isn’t gold; it has its problems that some people like to point out. But given all that, I’ve come across some authors out there who belittle other people’s work for the sake of “being honest” while making snide comments and acting like they’re judges in a Writer’s Digest competition. Bitches, have you read YOUR OWN story?! Bad editing, false representation of facts, far fetched story line – and you’re bringing other people’s books down? Really?! You want to be the judge of writing, you and that goofball you call a plot? Go sit back down!!

5. PROMOS

Its a known fact that most indie authors don’t have the funds and/or resources to help get their name out there. Social networking is literally the only solid way to promote, which is why Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. are bursting at the seams with homemade book promos. Can this be annoying? Of course! All you wanna do is see who Johnny hooked up with and instead you have to go through 3 or 4 posts about books with cheesy covers. We all understand that. We just don’t care, because if we don’t hound your ass, you’d literally forget about us. That’s what this generation has created: the need for instant gratification. If you aren’t online every 5 minutes, then nobody knows about you. If you want instant results, instant news, and instant posts, then you’re going to get instant book promos coming at you sideways. Don’t like the players? Then you shouldn’t have helped create the game!

What also hasn’t helped are new regulations from social media sites who have started regulating posts. I have over 15,000 amazing followers on Facebook, but only a couple hundred of them actually see my posts because of Facebook’s new code of conduct. That means that I literally have to double my posts just to make sure SOMEBODY sees it, which means I’m probably overloading the small percentage of viewers while being overlooked by the majority. And to be honest, I don’t like doing that. I know how it feels to have my wall filled up with random posts. This new code of conduct hasn’t stopped Facebook from filling up my own personal wall with ads for material things because they don’t think I’m poor enough. If I liked weeding things out, Facebook, my garden would be spotless. Knock that shit off.

So with all that said, let’s just jump right into…

MY RANT REGARDING THE TROLL

As stated, Mr. Kozlowki wrote an article about how indie authors are defacing, damaging, and/or destroying the literature of today. We are devaluing the worthy literature out there that’s produced by actual published authors, and ruining the book industry by trying to “emulate successful writers such as E.L. James or Cassandra Claire.”

Now I don’t mean to be rude (though I totally will be), but this is where he got me:

Emulate successful writers such as E. L. James and Cassandra Claire.

He named E. L. James and Cassandra Claire as successful writers.

This uncultured swine.

We, the indie authors, are defacing and destroying literature?? Mr. Kozlowki, YOU JUST NAMED TWO WRITERS WHO BASED THEIR “SUCCESS” OFF OF SOMEONE ELSE’S IDEA!! They both literally get an F- for creativity! A+ for great promotional skills, but solid F U for writing good literature. In fact, Mr. Kozlowki, people like YOU are destroying literature by being so close-minded to think that only good works come from traditional publishing houses. Self-published authors can write just as good as traditionally published authors, and if they don’t, then they’re going to be like the thousands upon thousands of traditionally published authors who have been forgotten. THERE’S NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO. There is no divide except that one does everything on their own while the other has a marketing team that takes part of their percentage of sales. YOU are destroying literature by being so naive to think that a good writer is someone who makes millions. NOT TRUE. Look at the shitty ass work of E. L. James, who not only copied a plot but also copied the marketing scheme behind that other author, who by the way abstracted a classic novel without the proper research she would have needed to know that VAMPIRES. DON’T. SPARKLE!!

In the end, good literature can come from anyone: rich or poor, big or small, traditional or indie. The only thing destroying literature are the sell outs who only write to make money, whether its crap or not. Nothing more, nothing less.

So go sit down, Mr. Kozlowki. You’re done.

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8 thoughts on “5 Horrible Truths Behind Indie Authors

  1. Well said! Even though I’m going to try to go the traditional route and get an agent, I appreciate what the Indie writers do, and how difficult it is to promote your own work, as well as writing, editing, designing covers, marketing, selling, etc. I did this in another artistic endeavor when I was making my entire living in a band, traveling all over the eastern U.S. I’ve always said the you are the queen of self-promotion, and I mean that as a big compliment, and I wish I had your energy and drive.

    One thing you didn’t mention is how expensive it is to hire an editor — I checked out some of the ads on facebook, and calculated that it would cost more than $1,200 just for a basic editing job — and who knows if the person you’re hiring really knows what they’re doing. When I was writing for newspapers and magazines, I always had the luxury of having and editor and a proofreader. My daughter is a English major, and an excellent editor. She knows far more about the rules of grammar than I do.

    I love what you did to your Word Press page. You have quite a talent for design. I think I’ve seen every film that you posted clips for, some just last week. TMC is running horror movies every Friday night until Halloween.

    I don’t know who Cassandra Claire is, and I don’t think that E. L. James’s work qualifies as great literature. My wife read “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and wasn’t impressed by the writing at all. I doubt that either of these authors will ever be mentioned in the same sentence with Twain, Updike, Hemingway, or even Stephen King. By the way, I’ve never heard of Michael Kozlowki either. I do know that the famous literary critic Malcolm Cowley was born and raised just down the road from where I live, and the author of “The Monkey Wrench Gang,” Edward Abbey used to live close by. I even bought some fence posts from his dad.

    If you haven’t read Stephen King’s “On Writing,” you should. He talks about trying to get his first book, “Carrie,” published, and about all the rejections he got from magazines and publishers. He even through the manuscript away. His wife fished it out of the trash, read it, and then told him to keep working on it. I wonder how many great books have been overlooked by the snobbery (is that a real word?) of people like Michael Kozlowki. I’m reading a traditionally published book by Greg Masterton, a British writer. The book is “The Doorkeepers,” and the plot isn’t bad, so far, but Mr. Masterton could not write a decent simile to save his life. Yet, the book was publish and the editor left the crappy similes in. I.e: “Up above them, the sky was the clearest of blues, with large white cumulus clouds rolling across it like Nelson’s navy.”

    Okay, I’m done too. I really like this blog; you hit on some important points. If you ever need someone to look at a manuscript do hesitate to ask. However, I will warn you that I am ruthless with a red pen. I taught writing in college, wrote for, and edited for my college P.R. office, and edited a weekly newspaper, and edited my college literary magazine. Some people might call me a “grammar Nazi. And I did win an honorable mention in a Writers Digest contest, and second place for an essay I sent to The History Book club — $50 worth of history books.

    Please excuse any errors in this reply; it’s 2 a.m. here in PA, and I’m falling asleep at the computer.

  2. Holy Crap this is totally right!! Thank you so much for pointing out the parts about E.L. James, and that other person who I also have never heard of!

    And as for your Editing–I think it rocks! Not that I’m biased or anything. 🙂

  3. I haven’t read 50 Shades but everyone I know who has says the writing is rubbish. I, too, have never heard of Michael Kozlowki or Cassandra Claire. I did read a trad published vampire novel recently that was also complete rubbish, but I can’t remember its title nor its author, except that she claimed to be a student at Oxford University (UK) studying English. There were errors in punctuation and grammar throughout, and even of word usage, (She said that one vampire, while hunting ‘etched towards the rabbit.’ The character development was nil and their behaviour unbelievable. Even factually, she was wrong. After being captured by the vampires, which they did after she had seen them kill someone (why did they not kill her too?) she was going to jump out of the car, but the driver had locked the doors with central locking. Did the author not know that you can open a car door from the inside when the doors are locked?

    Enough of that, I’m still annoyed with myself for finishing the book. So all traditionally published books aren’t models for literature. Publishers want to make money. They saw that 50 Shades, even with its poor writing would make money. People like a bit of sex, apparently, so they published. Others of us who write good English and have well-developed characters in good stories don’t get a look in.

    I think, in fact, that E.L.James was only offered a contract after her book was making waves on-line. Point made! If you are well-known (i.e. a ‘celebrity’) or already successful, then you may stand a chance of a contract with a traditional publisher, but otherwise we need to do it ourselves. Anyway, not all publishers are honest and above board either.

    So I thank you for your post and tell Mr Kozlowki where he can put his ideas.

  4. What an awesome post. I loved it and the scenes you used to emphasize your points. I agree with most of your points, especially the awards. Most of them are just votes by your fellow authors. The ones that really count are the ones you pay to enter, like the Readers’ Favorite. There are hundreds of titles entered, so if you end up even being a mention, you’re doing great. I also agree about the Amazon Bestseller ranking. If you can maintain your book in the top 100, without promos, you’re doing great. Anyway, great post.

  5. I really liked your post about the 5 horrible truths..I’m a novice author I recently got my book published. But I have to accept that my book will probably be shunned..Good story but probably bad editing not intentionally….Your post gives me some hope…I will start with the press interviews soon and I’m terrified 🙂

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