Saturday, March 24, 2012

Free -- No Need to Edit -- Its an Indie

Today I rant.
I'm big on Indies (self published authors). I am one.
That said ... I'm feeling strangled by two issues of Indie publishing. The marketing and quality of the product.
I'm often encouraged to give away my work for the exposure. On the surface I recognize the tactic gets downloads. If the downloads get your work pumped up to the 'top sellers' list, it is excellent exposure.
But I'm troubled by the abundance of authors using the tactic. There are so many free books, why should anyone buy a book anymore? I'm cheap, so I've downloaded a lot of Indie fiction. I've found three authors I adore, via their free work. They had great characters and fun story lines. (But I can't remember when I paid for a novel, because I've got four hundred on my Kindle to read [free downloads].)
Out of the last twenty novels I've started the last two months, I've only found eh ... three ... worth finishing. Stories mediocre, the editing and structure so abominable ... among that pool, I'm scared as hell my work will be categorized as just more Indie crap. Let's be honest. First, second, third … novels aren't Hemingway stuff (without a heck of a lot of editing). It takes many years to learn the craft of writing. 
Writing is work. Editing is drudgery. 
'Professionals' who know how to write are improved by the 'professional' editor. Yet so many writers are bundling their crap and it looks like a ten-year-old scanned it for grammar.  
Selling is work. Marketing your work is hard work and expensive. Editing is expensive. Giving it away for free is simple and easy. I've never seen true reward taking the easy path.
I scream, BEG my Indie peers to reconsider. You are diluting the market, and those who don't know the difference between direction and narrative are painting all Indie authors as hacks.
Learn the craft.
I don't mind being out marketed. But the volume of free novels is cheapening all of our work.
-R. Mac Wheeler
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  1. I'm applauding.
    Even though I'm an English teacher, and therefore pretty dang good at finding errors, I still have other English teachers go over my proofs before I put things up for sale.
    I, too, have read some pretty awful stuff. I cannot believe, for example, that Amanda Hocking ever made it big without having someone edit out all her mistakes.

  2. I totally agree, but the last time I made comments about indie publishing I got into an argument, so I'm going to abstain from adding my personal views (they're very similiar though).

  3. It's dispiriting, I agree. The whole thing is in danger of being the new 'slushpile' with the general dilution of standards.

  4. No one should be giving away their work for free. Even .99 is too dirt cheap for an e-book.


    I would never consider for a second releasing my ebooks without industry help. Editing is essential. I will release my first ebook in June and I worked for 9 months last year with a New York editor to make it better. I have just put back my release date for the sequel because I want to ensure the editing is done correctly.

    I also have an issue with the amount of freebies. I understand if there is a specific marketing strategy in mind, but if a writer is prepared to continually devalue themselves, then why should I take them seriously? I am more than happy to pay between $3-$5 for an ebook. So charge me that!

    Finally, I believe that the best marketing tool is word of mouth. It doesn't matter whether it is independent, small publisher or one of the big 6. If you write a great novel, people will recommend it. THAT is how you make sales in the long term.

  6. Like Annalisa, I got into it with a writer when I tweeted a request that indie authors and small presses carefully proofread and edit. Grammar errors drive me bonkers and anachronisms, continuity bugs, and other narrative errors rocket me right out of the story.

    No need to be defensive. If we writers want our stuff to be respected, we should learn our craft. Some smaller presses need to help their authors out by editing more carefully, too. I read one book that had an error on virtually every page.

    That having been said, I have read some very good stuff by indies. If you've got a good product, then charging a fair price for it should raise its value in your readers' estimation.

  7. Excellent points. The whole indie publishing business is in its infancy. We all have a lot to learn.

  8. Interesting post. I'm one who writes all day at either a laptop or a desktop but can't stand the idea of looking at anything electronic in bed. I just ordered several books from my on-line friends and the prices were $9.99 or $15.99 for each book. The disappointment is exemplified when you see the typos and grammatical mistakes in print!

  9. Your "author intro" on my blog has been posted. :)

  10. Respectful! Your point was made clearly without singling out any one particular author. I found this compelling as a newbie for so many reasons that I just don't have time for now. But, also, because I had an Indie send me a book for free and ask me to review it...good or bad...I'm torn. This is a blog post in the making. While I finish reading the book I was sent, check out the shout out and meme I gave you on my blog for so eloquently expressing your opinion. Again thanks for being so candid.