The Indie author. It’s a term not very known to the masses, but very well known in the Writer’s Community. What does it mean? Well, in short: it’s the writer who decides to publish his or her own stories without going through a traditional publisher.
Now, before you scroll away because you have all these preconceived ideas about stories that have been published independently, hear me out. These books are not all bad. Some are actually very, VERY good. The difference is the level of professional help a writer is willing (or able) to give the book before they publish it.
Which is basically the same for traditional publishing.
Books that have been published through a traditional publisher might be a complete waste of time. And believe me, as a book reviewer, I’ve had my share of bad books and they’ve all been approved by traditional publishers. That doesn’t mean the publishers aren’t doing their job. It just means that, whether a book is good or not comes down to one thing: preference.
I believe that for every story you can find a reader who will love it and a reader who will hate it. But if you let a traditional publisher decide the fate of a story, aka being published or not, a book might not reach the reader who will love it.
Reasons for publishing
There is also something else to consider when thinking about going the traditional route: profit. Traditional publishers have completely different priorities than the writer. Their first reason for publishing a book is because they want to make a profit out of the book. Of course, so does the writer, but in a lot of cases that is not the first, or most important, reason for a writer to publish their book. What their number 1 reason is? They want to be read. They want to give their book to that reader who will love their book and who will tell the world about it so others might want to read it, too. And soon that book might become a bestseller after all.
What I see a lot in the advertisements of books is that the publishers says things like “the Next Hunger Games!” or “If you loved Harry Potter, this is the book for you!” I must admit, these kind of advertisements really make my skin crawl. They set the bar very high and disappointment is just around the corner, when the book isn’t as the reader imagined.
Indie-authors do their own marketing. They’ll give you the information as they see the story. Most writers know that comparing their story to a famous one is almost like a death sentence. Not just because of possible disappointment by the reader, but also because most writers don’t want their unique stories to be compared to already awesome stories out there.
Besides, I believe the reader wants to be refreshed with every book. They don’t want a copy of a book that’s already out there. A new Hunger Games or Harry Potter. They don’t want the clichés that have been popular in the past. They want new ideas, new challenges, new adventures! They want to be surprised and taken on a journey.
Why publish independently?
The reason more and more writers choose to publish independently isn’t because traditional publishers rejected their work as many would assume. More often than not, the writer hasn’t even sent the book to a traditional publisher.
The writer might just feel strongly that the book’s better off sold independently. Or the book’s got such a specific niche that a traditional publisher won’t see it making them any profit. Or the writer just wants the final say in everything concerning their book and not have that be placed in the hands of the publisher. And there’s the issue about earnings; with a traditional publisher you might be lucky to get about 10% of the profit. If you publish independently this might be as high as 70%.
Publishing independently has been made super easy these days. Anyone can do it. Does this mean that the quality of a book written by an Indie-author might be poor? Oh yes, it definitely could but we also established this could be the case with books published by traditional publishers.
Writers who truly love their stories
The thing to consider is this. There are a lot of writers out there that stick their necks -and their wallets- out to get their book the best professional help before actually making the book available to the public. And they have amazing stories that they love and want to share. It’s a completely outdated idea that stories from Indie-authors aren’t at the same level qualitywise as traditionally published.
The days of traditional publishing being the only way to be taken seriously by a reader is pretty much over. More and more people discover the beautiful stories that are written by Indie-authors. The key is to focus on the right Indie-authors, the ones that do the sticking out-part I just mentioned.
Where to find books by Indie-authors
Well, for starters use the advanced search tool on websites like Amazon. This lets you search on independent authors by typing in the various organizations that print the books for these authors. Think CreateSpace or IngramSpark for instance.
Then on to weeding the good from the bad. For me there are three ways to make sure you have a possibly great read ahead of you.
The first way is a solid and quick way to distinguish the good from the bad: Look at the covers. If the cover looks like crap, changes are the inside is, too. Now, this isn’t always the case and of course, this, too, is very personal, but the cover is a good measuring tool! A good writer knows that their book will be judged by its cover. To avoid readers not give their book a chance, the writer will make sure their cover is catchy and done by a professional designer.
Another way to weed the good from the bad, is to scroll through the books that are sold online and read the first few pages. The larger companies, like Amazon, provide a free sample of the first few pages. Within a few minutes you’ll know if a professional editor has been hired to go through the text. If it’s full of grammar errors, you’d be wise not to invest in this book. But if the story pulls you in, and it looks clean, the book might be worth your time and money.
Lastly, it can also help to read the reviews, though you have to keep in mind that a review is very personal. It’s solely based on the reader’s own experiences and preferences. It might also spoil the reading experience for you. Then again, if the review is from someone whose reviews you tend to agree with, take the review to heart and buy the book – or not.
In the end, quality isn’t based on the route of publishing. It’s based on the reader’s experience. They decide which books they buy and which books they find worth reading, not the writer and not the traditional publisher. But don’t take my word for it. Check out the many websites who review books by Indie-authors.