I’ve followed writing and indie author networks long enough to see several recurring themes. Branding, social media, cover art, professional editing—some days it feels like my Twitter stream is stuck on repeat! Browsing Amazon’s Kindle forum this morning brought these themes into sharp focus when I noticed a thread titled “How to avoid Indie authors”.
The thread’s starter asserts that everyone and their dog has suddenly become an “author,” and every rejected manuscript resurrected as a kindle “book.” In four sentences he describes the scourge of self-published books with a kind of animosity usually associated with racism, religious intolerance, or homophobia. In his perspective, the annoyance of being subjected to below par books is great enough to request that Amazon allow him to filter out all self-published books in his searches. Started less than a month ago, the discussion had 2363 posts when I last looked. As I read through a few pages in the thread, some important themes relating to indies/self-pubs emerged.
- Quality (or lack of same) in cover art was listed as a “major clue”. One poster noted Indie book artwork and graphics are usually abysmal.
- Low pricing was mentioned several times as another sign of indie work.
- Lack of proofreading
- Lack of “professional” reviews
The thread quickly devolved into the usual internet forum casserole of snark, derision, and accusations. Proposed solutions to the indie problem ranged from limiting book searches to traditional publishers, to making authors pay Amazon to proof their book before allowing it into the Kindle store. I encourage all potentially self-published writers to visit the thread. This may be your audience.
As dreary as this forum is, I believe the indie author/publisher stigma will eventually diminish much like it has for the music industry, where the label seems to have a more positive connotation. Electronic publishing has the potential to accelerate that shift in thinking. But it’s every writer’s responsibility to focus on the two things that will spur that change sooner rather than later: quality and a loyal audience. One last comment from the Amazon forum:
The problem is that for the first time in publishing history, ANYONE can write something and have it published as an e-book.
That’s a good problem to have.