If you’re an indie author, you’re most likely used to receiving an adverse reaction from some people when they find out you self-publish your books. Though they might not be rude enough to outright say it, a judging squint appears on their face. You’ll find out later that they opted to borrow your book from a mutual friend instead of risking their money on your little “DIY project”.
Been there. Suffered through that.
Granted, there are plenty of self-published authors who slap together a manuscript and cover, throwing it out into the world way before it’s ready. However, the vast majority of indie authors I’ve read have bottled their blood, sweat, and tears into creating their final product, and they deserve more respect for their efforts. In this post, I’ll debunk common stigmas indie authors face.
“So, why aren’t you traditionally published?”
This is one of the top questions indie authors are asked. Though no one has ever asked me this (and I’m glad, because I find it kind of rude), to some people, you’re not considered a “real” author unless your books have a publishing company’s emblem on the spine and are sitting among best sellers at Barnes and Noble.
For a while, I actually believed this stupidity as well. Even after I published my first two books , I have felt like people are judging me when I tell them I opted to self-publish. Because of the stigma against self-publishing, there have been times when I felt like no one besides me is ever going to love these books because they are not validated by a publishing company.
It wasn’t until recently that I tried to teach myself to see indie publishing differently. In both indie and traditional publishing, amazing and amaetuer products are produced.
Stigma: Proofreading Mistakes
A few years ago, one of my favorite traditionally published authors released a new book. I received a first-edition hardback copy of the novel for Christmas. Or, what I’m guessing is a first-edition, because of the menagerie of spelling and grammar mistakes it featured. To be honest, I was appalled.
This is the kind of publishing preparation slip-up that indie authors get bad reputations for. But, truthfully, it has the same chance of happening in the world of traditional publishing. The only reason those authors careers aren’t tainted by the proofreading mistakes are because they are already established as a quality author. The overwhelming majority of us indies are sill trying to establish our careers.
Stigma: Horrendous Writing and Storytelling Skills
Let me lay down a glaring truth that is oftentimes ignored: just because a book is traditionally published, it does not mean that the writing is better than an indie book. That’s like saying you can only be considered intelligent if you have college degree. Think about it; aren’t there dozens of people throughout history who have made world-changing breakthroughs in a variety of subjects without the validation of a degree? The same concept just as easily applies to indie authors.
If you’re a voracious reader, I guarantee you’ve come across a traditionally published book that featured horrendous writing and storytelling. Maybe even enough to convince you to mark it as a 1-star read. Over the past year, the majority of books I’ve read have been indie published. Yes, there were some that I didn’t quite care for, but the vast majority of them were amazing stories that I would choose to read again. You see, the method of publishing books has absolutely nothing to do with the heart of the story.
Stigma: Homemade Means Horrible Quality
Similarly to the way people often judge homemade clothing items to not be as good of quality as that of an expensive name brand, indie authors’ books are judged for the same reason. Because we write and edit books ourselves, it can’t possibly be as good as Stephen King’s. Because we make the covers ourselves, it can’t be as eye-catching as Sarah Dessen’s. Because no traditional publishing house is paying to put it on shelves, it must be total garbage.
Lies. Lies. Lies.
If an editing team doesn’t put their all into making a debut traditionally published book pristine, it has the ability to flop. If a marketing team for a traditionally published book makes a huge PR mistake, it could ruin the book’s launch. If there is a defect in the cover design on a traditionally published book, it has the ability to screw up the process of mailing out pre-orders.
Literally all of the same release obstacles that traditional publishing houses face are experienced by self-published authors. The only difference is we’re not a team of industry professionals. We’re authors, cover designers, marketers, and editors all wrapped up in the same person.
I just wish more people could see it this way.
What social challenges have you had to face as an indie author? Let me know in the comments!