Blood and Bone: Why People Don’t Like Indie Books

It’s hard work, this writing thing. If you want to improve, if you want to write better each time, even if you’re only writing for yourself.

Publishing, though. That’s a whole different animal. There are certain standards, you know? Or there should be. And for self-publishers, the standards are …well, nonexistent, and a good book is hard to find. Even the very basics, fundamentals of grammar, spelling, and usage, don’t matter anymore—anyone can finger-paint.

If you slap your finger-paintings on KDP, you’ve lost my respect. The cover doesn’t matter as much to me as the “Look Inside.” If I find even one error on your first page, I look at the rest of your sample with a jaundiced eye. More than one? Forget it. You know what that says to me? It tells me that YOU ARE NOT COMMITTED TO YOUR WORK. I’m not talking about creative choices here. I’m talking about plain, simple laziness. Shallowness. Greed.

Is this how you act at your day job? Do you expect to be paid for sitting around on your hind end, making mistakes from the moment you walk in the door? Do you seriously expect me to pay for an artistic product in which you have invested no work whatsoever? I could find better on fanfiction.net, people. To produce something worth your readers’ time, worth my time, and you’re not a total genius (psst—you’re not), you’re going to have to bust your ass. Even if you are a genius (I know a couple, and they’re not me or you), having hit Ctrl+S on your first draft doesn’t count.

Get an editor—at the very bare minimum, get some readers—who know better than you. Make sure they actually do know better than you, and be willing to admit that they do. MAKE A COMMITMENT. Bleed into it! Weep into it! I don’t care how many five-star reviews you have, or how pretty your cover is, or how high your sales ranking is, or anything else. I care about your writing. If your sample is punk, I’m not going to buy, and you’re going to disgust any smart person who does.

Listen to me. It’s not just your reputation on the line here. It’s everyone’s. All of us who self-publish. “Oh, I never read indie books. They’re so full of mistakes.” Are you part of the problem? Are you not committed? To make good art, you must construct it from your own blood and bone, and you don’t get that in something smashed together in a week. Carve it. Cut it. Put in the work, and then you can complain about bad reviews or slow sales. Until then, I don’t want to hear it.

Please don’t mistake me. I’m not anti-self-publishing. I do it myself. I’m anti-lazy.

Oh, and yes—I am a snob. But if this pissed you off, maybe you should take a look at your latest. Kisses, Em

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