There currently is a growing and increasingly mean-spirited groundswell of complaints against “indie authors” that dumps all of them into one, giant cesspool containing nothing but poorly-written, unedited, misspelled, grammatically-incorrect, and horribly boring literary fecal matter.
C’mon, folks! It’s not all just black or white.
The contention is that one who isn’t published by a traditional or legacy publisher can’t be published by one of the Big Six or any other publisher — that those who e-publish surely are doing so only because they would otherwise never have their dreadful works picked up and published by any publishing house that wishes to maintain its reputation.
In looking at some highly-successful authors and their publishing history, one needn’t do too much research to find out just how many of these iconic authors either went years before finally being published or ended up resorting to self-publication. Here are some examples:
- Richard Bach was told by no less than 18 publishers that a book about a seagull wasn’t worthy of publication.
- Zane Grey received so many rejections that he finally paid to publish his first novel.
- Robert Persig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” was rejected 121 times before being picked up.
- J. K. Rowling had the door slammed in her face by 12 publishing houses (boy, are they ever sorry!).
- Margaret Mitchell was told “forget it!” 38 times before finding success.
These are just a few of the traditionally-published “babies” who almost got thrown out with the bathwater by publishing houses that either were not forward-thinking enough for their time or who were simply afraid to take a chance on an author.
E-publishing has opened doors that never before would have been opened to many authors. This is both fortunate and unfortunate. It is unfortunate in that there are some authors who never should be published, whether through the traditional route or by self-publishing.
These are the authors who: do not have a command of the English language (or their own native language); refuse to spell-check their work or to correct grammatical errors; elect to forego the expense of an editor; do not have the knowledge or talent to create an appropriate book cover yet choose to make their own; do not have a marketing plan for their book; and rush to self-publish basically just because they can.
However, the e-publishing door also is open, and fortunately so, to many talented authors who for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the competitiveness in traditional publishing, might otherwise never have their excellent work known.
These writers devote themselves to perfecting their craft. They not only spend hours writing, but many also spend hours with other authors and with editors discussing such things as points of grammar and writing technique, marketing, or book titling and cover art. They are serious about their work and they wish their work to be the best that it can be before they hit that “Send” button that will make their baby available to you, the reader.
My suggestion to readers is caveat emptor — beware, buyer, to keep all of this in mind when a Kindle or Nook download is not worth the ninety-nine cents you spent to purchase a book. You may download a dud or two before finding a real gem.
There are many review sites available for your use. Granted, some review sites are operated more like popularity contests, so try to find a review site that publicizes its review methods.
Ask your reader friends for recommendations — word of mouth probably is one of the best indicators of how much you might enjoy a book.
Write a review! Your honest review of a book can be helpful to both you and to the author. Please try to be fair in your review and to cite examples of what you did or didn’t like.
Above all, though, please don’t make your buying decisions based upon whether the book was traditionally- or e-published. If you choose to summarily dismiss all indie books as being rubbish, I guarantee you you’re going to miss out on some great reads and at least a handful of books that will become best-sellers.