Curse of the Indie Author – A bit of a rant…

I have never once made the claim to be the next Dickens, Austen, Bronte, or even Rowling when it comes to writing, but I have a certain pride about my work, but there’s a fast growing trend of authors not doing the same and it’s bothering me.
I’ve been catching up on a few posts over on my review blog (check the tabs at the top if you fancy it) and posting my reviews on both Goodreads and Amazon (UK) as I believe in doing so for fellow authors as us ‘indies’ thrive on feedback. It’s a little something I can do to give back to someone who has poured their heart, soul, and hours of time into their work, particularly if I am given a free copy of their book. 
I spotted a post over on FB for a book that was being advertised as free, so I checked it out on Amazon. It had over 100 reviews, the majority of them 3* or above. I very nearly 1 clicked (I have issues, don’t send help) until I saw the 1* reviews.
Usually, I don’t tend to pay attention to reviews as I’m the type of reader who likes to form my own judgement of a book, but I couldn’t ignore that 2 or 3 people each had the same issue with the lack of editing. Wanting to read more, I hopped over to Goodreads to see what was being said over there.

  5 stars (14868)  |  4 stars (13129)  |  3 stars (4880)  |  2 stars (985)  |  1 star (331)

These are the reviews this book has, so naturally, I clicked on 1*, just to see what all the fuss is about. I’m going to quote a couple….
Usually when I write one-star reviews, I start by saying that the premise of the book was good. Usually the plots sound pretty interesting. But with “******” even the summary was difficult to read.

If you want to spend your time reading the same sentence fifteen times just to try to understand it, than go ahead and pick up this book. It sounds like a fifth grader wrote it. No, in fact, a fifth grader could probably do it better.

I can’t believe anyone would publish a novel with words misspelled, run-ons, and so on. I was correcting every sentence I read.

Are you sensing the theme? It all boils down to bad or no editing. Yet, as you can see above, it has over 14,000 5* reviews that all say (I’m paraphrasing here) “OMG! This story was so HOT.  I loved the male lead because he’s a bad boy and sexy” What saddened me more was a comment thread on one of these reviews was the statement that someone would now be limiting their reading of indie authors because they face these editing issues far too often.

When did we, as readers, become so insipid that if a ‘story’ had 348 pages out of 350 of sex it didn’t matter how well it was written? I know books published under Mills & Boon and Harlequin have always been popular because they hinted at ‘naughtiness’ – Hey, I read my mum’s entire (double stacked) shelf of M&B books when I was about 13 and thought I was the bees knees for reading ‘sexy’ books, but looking back, they were tame.  The erotica market at the moment is HUGE! It’s quite possibly the biggest selling market, particularly on e-readers. I can see the appeal and have no problem with readers wanting to be titillated whilst reading, afterall, reading allows us to escape into another world, so why can’t it be a sexual one? It’s not a genre I would write, but I dip a toe into it now and then to read :), what I do have a problem with is the surge of self published ‘authors’ who churn out book after book after book that is rarely edited (possibly beta read by a friend) and well structured, and they are lauded as the next E. L. James (not the highest of aspirations literary wise) and their sales go through the roof. 

On another comment thread on a review of the above book, a reader made an extremely valid point, and it is this as both an author and a reader, that has pissed me off. It’s these ‘authors’ that show a blatant disrespect to their readers by not taking care and pride in their writing that ruin it for other indies. I completely agree. Most self published authors, when they first start out, can’t afford a professional editor, but usually manage to take their time and find someone they can afford and ensure they release a book they can quite happily show off and be proud of. Yes, there may be a few minor errors, but we’re only human and humans often miss things. (newsflash people, humans aren’t perfect) In my own books, I’ve been made aware of a couple of errors which my publishers have been made aware of, I’m still waiting for the uploads to be updated.

Even books published by the big 6 have errors and I can deal with that. It’s the ‘whatever’ attitude. It’s the latest trend to write a story, get a friend to read it, then whack it up on KDP and sit back and rake in the cash. In particular, erotica stories. Then, there are those authors out there who are writing, taking care with their work, getting it edited, and give their book a tasteful cover (that’s an entirely different post) and THEN they publish it. These are the authors that are struggling to make sales because they haven’t conformed to the masses by flooding the market with more drivel.

Is it fair? No, it’s not. Why should I, and other authors who don’t particularly care about the money, suffer because others who want ‘in on the action’ don’t really give a shit about the crap they put up for sale. It’s insulting that it’s all readers seem to want to read and it’s very demoralising. We may not have dollar signs in our eyes, but we put in so many hours, it may as well be our job, and most people get paid for doing their jobs!

It’s coming to the point where a lot of extremely talented authors will just stop. Don’t let the good ones get away! I myself have come very close to stopping, but i can’t imagine not writing. I guess there’s always posting online, i doubt i’d get many readers then either considering I actually care about the words I put out there.


  • Lisa Bilbrey

    I couldn't have said it better myself, hon. I hate that so many readers would rather spend 2.99 on a cheap book full of sex rather than buy something with more heart and soul. It's frustrating. And I agree with Lissa Bryan, too. When people comment on the 'big 6' books, they aren't ripped to shreds because someone dared to miss a type that lost in 50K plus of words.

  • Elizabeth Lawrence

    Well said! There is now a “grocery store” mentality when it comes to fiction, particularly in the romance genre. Readers expect the next installment with the same directed impatience that they would feel if Tesco's had run out of milk. And we, the authors, protest that it actually takes time and effort to produce a quality book, but the readers have been fed on literary fast food and don't have any understanding or respect for the cooking time involved in producing something with actual substance. I would love to say this is the reading public's fault, but it's not. It is the greed, pandering, and arrogant indifference of these so-called “authors” who churn out graphic dreck for the sole edification of their egos and wallets that has ruined the relationship between fiction writers and readers.

  • M. B. Feeney

    Which is why I made my point about it being a curse these days to be an Indie author. Because it's the big houses, they can do no wrong… uh, yeah, they can!

  • M. B. Feeney

    Yet there are so many books that don't include so much sex, but have a good plot that get overlooked because they have tacky covers and an even tackier 'plot'

  • M. B. Feeney

    I completely agree. Unfortunately, there seems to be no let up in this crap slowing down. As much as I think self publishing and small houses are an amazing boost for publishing, it also deludes people into thinking they can do just as good. Er, no. You really can't.

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