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Friday, 24 May 2013

Why do indie authors still get such a bad rep?

Okay, another rant here, so I apologise up front if that's not what you're here for.  This post is following some twitter comments I have seen recently that have really begun to irritate me.  Essentially, it's this - why do indie authors still get such a bad rep? (see how just copied the title there?  Author trick to increase word count....)

Does indie music get the same treatment?  No
How about indie films?  No again

Yet someone writes a book, chooses not to go down the 'traditional' publishing route, and automatically they must be

a. stupid
b. a rubbish writer
c. just looking to make some quick money
d. all of the above

Now, I'll admit, I sent my manuscript first to a selection of agents, looking for a 'traditional' publishing option.  I was rejected, and the only two pieces of feed back I had were 'it's too sci-fi/fantasy for what we're after' and 'it's not really the sci-fi enough for us'.  The others just sent me the generic thanks but no thanks letter or email.

So, I decided to go ahead and do it anyway, on my own, just like so many other people out there who just want someone to read their work.  I paid a very talented artist to design my cover.  I paid an editor to go through my book and polish it.  Is it perfect?  No.  Is any book perfect?  That's a topic for a different debate.

So, my book is out there, along with thousands of others on Amazon, hoping that someone will think it's worth a read.  Now, I'll admit I've read some not very good indie published titles, but I would argue that I have so many more awful books that were published traditionally.  The same with music and film.  There are so many terrible movies and albums that went through the 'traditional' route, so is every film from Hollywood or album released by a major label terrible?  No.

So, back to my book.  When I was asked about this, I tried to explain it thus-

'This is my Star Wars, this isn't meant to be Citizen Kane.'

'Ah ha', you shout, 'you think you've written a story as good as Star Wars?'  No, of course I don't, that would be ridiculous.  What I mean by this is that when I watch Star Wars, I enjoy the story, the action, adventure and humour.  Do I care that one Storm Trooper is a good six inches taller than the rest and cracks his head on a door?  No, I move straight past it and continue to enjoy it for what it is - entertainment.

All writers try so hard to make their work the best it can be.  I have never met anyone who thought 'ok, this'll do, lets just publish it'.  Does that happen in traditional publishing?  In movies and video games, most definitely.  Anyone seen the mummy sequel with the awful CGI for The Rock as the Scorpion King?  Meeting a deadline.  Anyone have the misfortune to play Battlecruiser 3000AD on the PC?  Blatantly not finished but released anyway.  And I'm sure we've all read books and found editing errors that were published down the 'traditional' route.

As so many websites keep claiming, publishing is changing, and independent is no longer a bad thing, just like for movies and music.  Go out there and read an indie book, I bet it's a hell of a lot cheaper than a 'traditionally' published novel in the same category, and it may just surprise you!

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