Saturday, November 9, 2013

Are Indie authors butchering the whole industry and other randomly random thoughts...

Hello fellow Junkies,

I've got quite a controversial topic up for discussion today: Are Indie authors killing books and ruining it for everyone else? Just to clear things up, I am an indie author. I do not have representation from an agency, nor do I have the backing of any major publishing house. I say major publishing house because recently there have been a spate of 'pop-up' publishing houses that are entirely based online. Does this make them any less reputable? No. I'm not saying that; I'm just wondering what they're doing to the publishing industry on the whole. Are they there to the benefit or the detriment to the authors they're representing?

I have been trying for a long time trying to get published traditionally, but the truth is, I haven't managed to tap that market yet, but that's not to say I'm giving up. To me, getting published traditionally has more prestige than some of the other publishing agencies out there on the WWW.

Now the reason I ask the question of whether Indies are butchering the industry and ruining for everyone else is because recently I've been in a bit of a funk with my own writing. I've got a few things going on in my life at the moment related to health, and I think my creativity and muse suffered because of it. Just so I could keep writing something each day, I began reviewing more and more books. I even got to the point where I started my own review blog, Between the Lines, and joined a whole heap of blog tours. 

...It seemed like the perfect remedy: Can't write? Then read!...

I've read probably a dozen or so books so far. Some I have absolutely loved beyond belief, which has driven me to seek these authors out to tell them just how much I enjoyed reading their books. It's their writing that spurred me to have another look at my own...now I can practically hear what you're thinking...

...Isn't she just copying their writing style then?...

Well, no, actually. I'm an urban fantasy/paranormal romance writer, skirting on the edge of darkness. And what have I been reading mostly? Contemporary romance/new adult books. I don't think you could get any further from urban fantasy than that. I love my werewolves and vampires and Norse Gods, but it's also refreshing to read something completely different to my own writing genre.

Like I said, I've been getting some good ones...some really good ones, but for every amazingly-written book, I'm getting at least five that are sub-par (in my opinion). After recently finishing one of these sub-par books, it got me thinking...

...Are Indie authors killing books and ruining it for everyone else?...

It seems like every single woman who has fantasized about some muscular, sexually-deviant god of a man has somehow come to the conclusion that they should write about their fantasy and tell everyone else about it. What's the problem with that you ask? Maybe 95% of these women shouldn't have done it. By releasing these poorly-edited, poorly-thought out books with watery characters and deviating plotlines, I think we're ruining the whole publishing industry.

I'm not saying my books are amazing. I'm realistic. I know that 80% of the people who look at my books will not buy them, and of the remaining 20% that do choose to buy one, maybe 10% will just think it's 'meh', leaving 5% either just thinking it's okay (not worthy of a review being written), 3% rating it and leaving a review...

...and a whole 2% actually seeking me out on social media to tell me how much they loved my book...

My issue is that that 80% who chose not to read one of my books was because I am a self-published author. Maybe they've been burned in the past by other self-published books? Maybe the last book they read was self-published and so terrible that they want the last two hours of their lives back along with their 0.99 cents. How am I to know? All I know is that they chose not to read one of my books based on a prejudice.

I'm a qualified proofreader and editor and recently I came across a story that was so terribly written that I had to pull out of the tour completely. I don't know if you know this, but when you join a blog tour, you're expected to give at least 3 stars or more as it's a promotional tour, but in the same breath they also tell you they'd like a completely honest review.

...Can anyone else see the problem with this??...

Anyway, this book - let's call it "50 Shades" to keep things generic - had too many errors to simply highlight and send to the author to review. No, I went one step further. I actually contacted the author to advise them to really think hard about releasing the book as it was. Despite the author telling me that it had been proofread twice, I couldn't quite see how that could have been true. After politely giving the author my top three suggestions to improve "50 Shades", I ended up offering my services up pro bono when the author said she couldn't afford to pay someone to read it over.

...Had I been suckered? ... Probably...

But that was okay. I couldn't, in good conscious, let "50 Shades" go out as it was. To give you an idea on how long it should take to proofread, in one hour I should be able to get about 18-20 pages done. It took me a little over 6 hours to do 2 chapters. If my maths is correct, that'd make two chapters with 60 pages each. There were only about 12-15 pages per chapter in "50 Shades". 

...Eventually I sent it back to the author, waving a white flag of defeat...

I had already spent close to 30 unpaid hours working on it, and I still had another 3 chapters to go to finish it off. That could have been at least $600 in my pocket, but I was trying to do something kind for a nice, new, fresh-off-the-word-processor newbie Indie author. But do you know what the worst thing about this was? It wasn't the time spent away from my own writing, or not getting paid. 

...It was the fact that I didn't get so much as a 'thank you for all your time and effort'...

I didn't do it for the gratitude though. I did it because poorly-written Indies impact on me and every other decent Indie author out there. I was just trying to save my books from being ignored. I was also trying to save the author from the embarrassment of getting terrible reviews from people who aren't their friends or family. 

...Fact: One bad review can make an indie author's world crumble...

I've had my share of bad reviews, but I try to learn from them. I just don't think that absolutely-glowing-when-they're-not book reviews aren't doing anyone any favors. I try to be honest with my reviews, and if I found something a little strange/unconventional, I believe honesty is the best policy. I don't say these things to be horrible - I just think honesty and integrity has been thrown out the window in the blogging/indie author world. 

...If I recommend something, my name is attached to it. I won't sell out to stay in someone's good graces...

I was also chatting with a fellow indie recently who was telling me about bloggers being paid to review. I didn't really believe her, but after looking around, I did find that some bloggers are more vocal for some authors over others. In some instances, I've actually read some of what the author has produced, but in my opinion, it wasn't that great. This brought me to two conclusions. Either...

1. We weren't reading the same thing; or
2. The blogger must be getting something in return for the advertising.

I know I'm going to cop a bit of flack for that last comment (or maybe not as I'm sure only one person reads this blog, and I'm pretty sure it's my mum) but it's true. So I ask again, where has the integrity gone? I know I've still got mine.

Have you?    

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