Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Corrupt Indie Downfall

Just read something online, and of course, my feathers are more than a little ruffled.

Let's put in this way.... I am starting to think that there should be laws implemented to regulate the behavior of indie authors. If I see any more coddling or "down with the system" indies on their soapbox, I'm going to go on strike. Which means, I will no longer speak to any new indies that don't first sign some contract stating that they are not idiots.

One of my main issues right now is that there are A LOT of indie writers out there who are preaching wrong practices to newbie writers. This whole "down with the system" is complete crap. I'm serious. The system is falling apart at the seams and people are looting in the streets. That's not how it works folks. It's simply not.

If your book doesn't get accepted because the market is bad or publishing houses don't think it will sell, then fine. Self-pub away. But, usually those are NOT the reason books aren't getting accepted. All writers, indie and trad alike, should follow a process. Don't even bother trying to preach to me about the chinks in the armor. I know that bad books get trad published just as much as I know that good books get passed over.

Have you guys not seen the movie He's Just Not That Into? The whole point of that movie is, "You are not the exception, you are the rule." I'm tired of people operating on the basis that their book is fantastic, it's probably not. Have some humility. Do what writers have been doing forever.... write, edit, beta, re-write, edit, beta, rinse and repeat. This system has only just started to really fail with the crap they're putting out now. But, in the past, it worked and put out great novels.

The system teaches you hard lessons... like rejection. It happens. All the time. I can't imagine Edgar Allen Poe getting coddled by anyone else but his cousin/wife. Stephen King, while some hate him and some love him, has given us some great stories... IE Carrie, the Shining... and in the beginning he worked for scraps and only had his wife rooting for him. It happens. They didn't beg their readers for great reviews (or pay them as we can now do), they sat down and honed their craft.

I'm so sick of indies right now. Granted, I'm hoping that it's the minority of indies out there that are shouting, "Hey, look at me! Love me! Give me money for a bad book!" But, they are the ones that are getting all the attention, and they are the ones giving us a bad rep.

On top of all of that, I think a lot of indies do not realize that they are representing the industry and giving BAD, HORRIBLE, DISGUSTING advice to newbie writers. What comes out of your mouth as a writer is looked at by other writers, keep that in mind as you post your blogs, tweet, or otherwise.

Maybe, if enough Respectable Indies stand up and stop being afraid of what these mobs of angry indies have to say we can regain some respect in the community. Hell, there are reviewers who are getting tired of dealing with us. I don't know about you, but when I publish I don't want to have to go knocking on doors of reviewers only to be met with shotguns and warning signs that say "no indies allowed". Because if we don't start shaping up this community ourselves, that's exactly what's going to happen.


  1. Fantastic post. This air of entitlement among some indie authors is appalling. It's not the point. I don't think I could have said this any better.

  2. Sadly, Indie Authors who are writing fantastic books and behaving professionally are in danger of being blacklisted because of the very bad behavior of others.

  3. I should like to hope this kind of ebhaviour is a minority, although it appears to be not as much of a minority as I should like!

    It saddens me because there are some excellent indie authors out there. One of the best books I read all year was written by an indie author. And I keep saying some indie authors need to behave better, and publish better quality, and then good indies get their noses out of joint with me - but don't they realise this is reflecting on them as well? Every indie author who behaves badly tarnishes the reputation of indie publishing as a whole. While I'm not 100% happy with where indie publishing is at, I should like to think it has potential for the future, but the more bad indies who tarnish it, the less likely that is.

  4. I starting drafting a reply but it got too long and ranty, so I took it to my blog:

    1. So, I might have misspelled contract... it's supposed to be spelled sarcasm. And after reading your post, I have to say that I'm sorry that you don't feel that there is a community. I happen to feel I belong to a community and those within my circle of influence are wonderful writers. While, I understand some of your points, I find myself slightly surpised that you don't feel that there is a "we". Yes, I stand on my own and represent myself, but I believe authors should become more outspoken about the quality regarding self-pub material. Obviously, you don't have a problem voicing your opinion, but as it stands, there are plenty who do.

    2. Well, thank you for such a polite and not at all condescending reply.

      I trust you and your wonderful friends, with all that support behind you, will be taking a strong stand against BBAs and this scourge on our 'community' will be gone any time now.

      After all, if pitiful little me can do it all on my own....

    3. First off (I'm proud enough to ask) what do you mean by BBAs?

      Secondly you are entitled to your opinion and you did a fine job doing so in your blog (no sarcasm, it was well written). With that said all writers are part of the writing community.

      It's like the community of law enforcement and corrections. A few bad officers can put a black mark on the entire community at large. If I'm a cop and someone else in my department makes the news for excessive force I'm going to be looked at poorly. It's the nature of the beast.

      Right now indies (self-published) authors are at a cross roads. There are some of these writers that are giving the entire classification a bad name. LendInk anyone? It's a trend that can't be ignored because it may not be effecting you now, but it might in the future. There are some in traditional publishing that will not accept a manuscript from a self-published author. The field is relatively new. There is going to be controversy like this.

    4. And never mind. After reviewing your blog post again I found what BBA meant.

    5. I personally thought my "polite and not at all condescending reply" only matched the tone in which you replied to my post. I was not intending flout. On top of that, "community" is a generally accepted term for a group of people with a shared interest, occupation, or whatnot... ie the knitting community, the blogging community, etc. I still remain surprised that you treat the idea of community with such disdain. This is not a "me and my friends". I said "my circle of influence"... as in, those who influence me and who I, in turn, may influence as well. I didn't say "my circle", which could be miscontrued as a gang or mob or some other misinterpretation. I don't understand why you are using terms like "pitiful me". I made no attack on you, nor did I subvert your opinion. I merely responded to the crassness when you poked fun of my statement about the contract. I didn't even mention the "[...]we, white man" comparison you made, which I also found a bit crass. I believe in supporting one another, not in false reviews and the like, but in being there for one another. That idea seems to be a concept that I feel quite comfortable saying is universally accepted as a form of integrity. I never turned this into a me and my friends combat. I was defining and extolling the merits of the "community" I had mentioned.

  5. Great post! I read an article yesterday about indie authors paying for an indie author myself, I'm just horrified by that.

    1. There are just as many ridiculous unpaid reviews. Every Indie author has their gaggle of friends and hangers-on to give them a swath of 5star reviews.

    2. I'm an author and editor and I have many indie authors who are friends. Some of them have read my book and reviewed it. I never ask anyone for reviews (unless I give away free copies to people I don't know). Whenever anyone says they will review my book I insist that it's honest. I have no control over how people rate or review my book. I have quite a few 4 and 5 star reviews but I didn't insist on any of them and now you have me thinking that I'm better off deleting those reviews. This really is a tricky situation. I'm an advocate of honesty and I won't give 5 star reviews to my friends unless their book is something I can't put down (if you don't believe me go see how many 5 star reviews I've given). I think indie authors should practice, have their books edited and work hard. I don't think all reviews they have are from friends, you can read the beginning of a book for free and you will soon see if the reviews are warranted. I just think we should support and encourage each other by giving HONEST feedback, but we shouldn't be made to feel guilty if we actually like a book. I agree with AE - we are a community but in a good way - not a grab your pitchfork and attack anyone who won't help or doesn't agree with us way. Every author should work as hard as they can to put out the best book they can, because let's face it, we wouldn't buy music by someone who couldn't sing in tune (well maybe some people would...) Anyway great post and great discussion.

    3. I loved the music comparison, mind if I use that?

  6. This is an excellent post!

    Yes, there is a small group of self-published/indie writers who started a movement to do away with the traditional publishing industry in order to reform the current literary world. Their messages are mostly negative and polarizing. Also, they criticize anyone who disagrees with them. I've been attacked by some of them in the past simply because I'm an editor. I said all books should be professionally edited if they want to be published because it's wrong to charge money for books that are riddled with errors. I digress.

    The sad thing is they're sending the wrong messages to the newbie writers and to their readers. Readers are starting to get turned off by ALL indie writers. That's not fair for the rest of the indie writers who work hard and are producing good books.

    To me, they just come off as rejected writers who are throwing temper tantrums. And whatever messages they're trying to send out is getting buried by their actions. If they want to be accepted as professionals, they should act as such. Yes, the literary world, like anything else in life, isn't perfect. But to trash the whole industry just because your book wasn't published after you've been writing for 11 days is just ridiculous.

    Writers, do what Ash suggests. Learn how to write, study, practice, write some more, and so on. If your book is good, your hard work will pay off someday. Good luck and happy writing~

    1. Wow. I'm rather taken aback by your comment! I love how well worded your commentary is. I'm flattered because I know your standards... so thank you.

  7. One more thing. Clearly, you did not criticize/attack every indie/self-published writer, only some nasty ones. But as always, you will be accused of attacking all of them and will be called a closed-minded, indie hater. That's just how things work, so don't take it to heart when hateful comments come your way. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  8. OK, I'll play Devil's advocate and esouse a series of positions - for the sake of us all having a robust discussion and lets see what comes out of it:

    In my opinion this problem will not go away. Its a simple matter of numbers. As more and more people move to self-publishing and "epublishing" because of the non-viability of "traditional publishing" (either because they werent good enough to make it, or because shrinking profit margins mean traditional publishers are publishing far fewer books) you will find more and more people churning out utter crap with no onus on them to provide a good product. You throw a few million, tens of millions of people into a market that does not require any standards of them outside of what they CHOOSE to pay for out of their own pockets - and you can bet that most of them wont pay a cent more than the bare minimum. Thats applicable for covers, editing, copyediting, proofreading, developmental editing, etc etc.

    And why should there be? That's the whole "beauty" of self publishing. Anyone can publish anything they want and then its up to the "reader"/consumer as to whether they buy it or not. This is the magic revolving door for 99% of the people who think they have something to write yet would never get published. This is what "we" have be clamouring for all these years. The other side of the reality is that its all basically just a capitalists wet dream. If you have the money to self publish and you want to make crap and serve it up on to the market then you've just as much right to as any other "author" and you're welcome to - there is no editor, or publisher or gatekeeper to stop you. "We" (presumably all those who tried, payed for editing, etc) like to think that the odds are that it wont sell well.. But that is just what we tell ourselves. And if it does, well.. thats capitalist freedom at work for you.

    Thats how it is, and as far as I can see that is how it will stay for the forseeable future particularly given we've had several large providers attempt to corner the market (amazon/b&n/etc).

  9. As far as indie author marketing and the review system works - its totally broken. The more I think about this, the more I cannot escape this conclusion. Infact, it'd probably be considered unethical and corrupt by most standards.
    Consider the fact that in most other arenas where one party was seeking to use the endorsements of another party to sell a product or make money, they would be expected to divulge prior contacts and relationships between the two otherwise it would be considered unethical and a conflict of interest. Sure plenty of people dont - but we dont consider the behaviour to be ethical. I've not seen one conflict of interest declared or one author balk from using the 5 star reviews to market their books.
    Now we can say "we" all deserve the benefit of the doubt and how do we know that all these people didnt love the book etc ... but, by ethical standards, we dont know they do either if people arent declaring their conflicts of interests etc beforehand.

    Moving on from that we only have to look at the actual rating system itself 1 - 5 stars to show how broken it is. Look at almost any book and you'll see that the majority of books have a majority of reviews that either 5 or 4 stars. Tell me how realistic that is? The majority of people who could be bothered reviewing find the majority of books to be excellent? Puhlease. What rubbish. Which only goes to put further doubt on any of those reviews and on the sanity or truthfulness of using them as marketing.
    Then "we" ask ourselves .. what does 5 stars mean anyway? If 1 is poor or not good... what is 5? absolutely excellent? perfect? Is it representative of a percentage? does 1 star = 20% does 5 stars = 100%?
    Lets pretend it does.. that means that the majority of readers think the majority of books deserve a mark of 80-100% or 80-100/100.

    In summary, we have a system that if we presume to expect anything by way quality out of even a small percentage of indie books - we're probably kidding ourselves and its coupled with a ratings and marketing system embraced by readers and authors alike - which is extremely doubtful at best, if not completely corrupt and unethical (and somewhat laughable).