Wow, guys. Just wow. I’ve been floored by the reaction to The Indie Hypocrisy. And with good reason.
Let me put it this way. My top post of all time for number of hits was 2016’s You Just Keep Pushing Me Away, a commentary piece on the lack of research in Literary writing that, over a few days, racked up 7,000 hits. Since a lot of other posts only range around 500 to two or three thousand, that 7,000 in a few days has definitely been the peak so far. That post had hits from all over.
But even with that, how many comments did it accrue? Just 20, including my own responses.
Meanwhile, The Indie Hypcrisy had nothing close to that. It’s still sitting at just over 200 views. Not bad, but nothing like YJKPMA. At the same time, however … Those of you who read TIH definitely had a lot more to say than those who read YJKPMA. At this exact moment, TIH is standing tall, I believe, with one of the largest comment chains in recent memory. To whit, between this site and my fanfic profile (where a short intro to the post also goes up), TIH racked up a grand total of 62 comments.
Best part is, these weren’t just the “Huh, sounds good” kind of comments. These were thoughtful comments, either pitching in with suggestions as to why such a disparity could be, questioning or pointing out the differences of indie books and other indie genres, or even discussing points raised by other commentators.
Ultimately there were far too many posts for me to reply to them all individually. At least, not if I wanted to keep up with my day to day job. But at the same time, there are probably a decent number of readers who never ventured into the comments, and there were so many comments made, with some really good points or at least perspectives, that I did want to come back to it as soon as I could.
Which, of course leads us to today’s post, which has seen me spending the last hour sifting through all of these posts, tallying their topics and approaches, and bringing them together here. Because while I do still have to get back to editing on Shadow of an Empire, I think a lot of the points raised by readers are important and worth talking about.
So, here’s how it’s going to go. I’ve gone through and categorized a lot of the comments on TIH, grouping them by topic, and I’m even going to go ahead and quote them, especially when they elucidate a point well in their own words. However, I’m also going to do this backwards. I’m going to start with some of the more “one-off” suggestions and comments, and then we’ll work our way down to the most common suggestions raised and discussed by the group. That’s right, the most supported and discussed concepts are going to be at the bottom.
Now, if you haven’t yet at this point, I do highly recommend that you read The Indie Hypocrisy before starting, since all of these comments are in relation to this singular post. But that accomplished, and my thoughts on the matter read, let’s see what others had to say!
The Indie “Niche”
Commentator Alicia had an interesting take on TIH, pointing out that as she saw it, indie authors were forced into “niche” genres, because the big publishers had the genre readers “trained.” She brought up bookstores, pointing out that places like Barnes & Noble aren’t going to be stocking indie books anytime soon (if ever), and that a lot of readers have been conditioned to simply walk to their local outlet and buy whatever was offered there. Basically, that indie writers are diving at a “niche” in the market.
Alicia also raised the point that she doesn’t believe this was a lost cause, but that indie authors could break into the larger publishing sphere if there were large enough names in genres that the big 5 tend to dominate … but even then it would be an uphill battle.
Another user, Bad Horse, chimed in with a comment of a similar nature, though by way of comparison, pointing out that it didn’t make sense that indie books were treated the way they were (the hypocrisy), and shocked that they hadn’t noticed it before. They then raised an excellent parallel with short fiction, pointing out that mainstream short fiction was, for all intents and purposes, effectively dead (and looking at my personal sales of Unusual Events: A “Short” Story Collection, I’d have to agree), but at the same time noting that top Literary Short Story publications would only publish 10-20 stories a year, read by a few thousand people, and that was considered a success and “mainstream” while fanfiction read by millions was not.
How niche is indie, really?
No Skill, No Talent, Anyone Can Do It
Hoo boy. When it comes to a list of very real annoyances and peeves, this one ranks near the top. And, it would seem, I’m not the only one that’s run into this or heard some variant of it. And that, some users felt, was why some people make the indie hypocrisy a thing. As user Jeffrey put it:
I think this goes hand-in-hand with the public perception that it takes no special skill to be a writer. Indie music and game development are seen as skilled trades pursued by people with wisdom and training unavailable to the common folk, and this bar to entry gives the public the idea that these artists have already paid their dues. Writers? Pfft. Everyone can WRITE. When I’m in a light social setting and I mention that I’m a writer, I keep hearing a similar response: “I should write a book someday!” Or, “The crazy stuff that happens in this office would make a great book!” Or some shade of that. If I were a composer, would these people immediately tell me of the symphony they’ve always wanted to write? No, they would not.
Tumbleweed voiced a similar reaction:
I’ve thought about the indie books vs. indie music thing before, And I think a lot of it boils down to a matter of, well, effort. I’m not saying it’s easier to program a game than it is to write a novel (or vice versa). Rather, there’s the general IDEA that it’s easier to write a novel than it is to record an album or whatever. I mean, all you need is a computer with a word processor, right?
Which plays back into this idea that indie is just the “easy” route, and the publishers are the ones picking out the best of the best (which couldn’t be further from the truth, but we’ll get into all those comments near the bottom).
Honestly, this one is a personal peeve and frustration. I still remember talking about finishing up Dead Silver, talking about it at one point and how I’d managed to hit an impressive milestone, only to be snidely shut down by someone who worked as a secretary who effectively told me to ‘stop acting like what I’d done was remotely impressive’ as my work was something ‘anyone could do’ and that they could ‘easily’ eclipse my workload in a day or two, as they were transcribing reports of 4000 words or more a day to do.
This perception is real. Brutally real. Somehow, in some way, the public perception of writing a book is that “it’s easy, and anyone can do it with just a short bit of effort.”
How did we get this point? I have no idea … But I do think these two commentators were right in suggesting that this hurts writing, though I’d even suggest they set their sights too short. I don’t think this just hurts indie writing, but all writing.
Think about it. How much would you spend for a burger at a burger joint if all the ingredients were freely out on the tables, and you could build your own for nothing, just a time investment? If you were just paying for the “building” of the burger?
Now, to be fair, those of us that have actually tried writing a book, or better yet, published a few,, know that this is not at all what the situation is. But if others think that it is … how much are the likely to spend on a book when they have the mindset of “I could do this myself in a week or two?”
This is a topic that needs to be a focus in the future, I think, if not today. But I would agree that it’s hurting indie books, and expand that to books in general. This perception has to change.
Quantity VS Quality
Another point that was brought up by a couple of posters was the idea that indie books have fallen under a banner of “more is better” to the point that quality isn’t the name of the game, but cheap, disposable, easily manufactured and quick-to-read works. As ocalhoun pointed out:
I think it also doesn’t help that a lot of times in the indie publishing scene, there’s a sense of ‘Quantity is quality.’ You find success not by writing well, but by writing a lot. Place the blame with the audience, with the pricing expectations, with the limited time window that even excellent books have to make sales … but the result is the same: the system tends to reward authors who pump out dozens of mediocre books over ones who take their time to carefully craft a few masterpieces.
That’s also going to damage the reputation of indie publishing. Maybe the effect could be lessened with more carefully designed sorting and recommendation algorithms, but at this point, there’s a lot of momentum behind it, so it’s not going to be an easy trend to reverse.
I thought this was a good point that was rapidly buried under other, more pressing posts, but it’s worth bringing up again. The early indie market did make a name for itself with a large amount of what was effectively the written equivalent of shovelware: cheap, quickly written books sold at a low cost or with a predatory pricing model … and that hasn’t gone away, sadly. You can still find plenty of 75 page “books” that are churned out with the speed of, in some cases, several a month, all the absolute lowest quality, being sold for anywhere from 99 cents to a few bucks. But never past $4. Crud, you can even hire people in other countries, some of which barely have a grasp of English, to “write” these books for you. I recall one article that interviewed a guy who was pumping out a 20,000 word “book” a week by farming out some firm in China for a few bucks, and basically pumping out self-help books, travel guides to places they’d never been, or romance. One of those, or maybe all three. I don’t quite recall.
Point being, I think this comment raised a good point. To many people, indie may be synonymous with this kind of cheap, rapid-output production. Which is a pretty negative stigma.
Granted, other indie genres are not exempt from this. Look at the glut of mobile games in gaming, or the absolute mass of cheap dubstep/techno in the music scene. But those mediums have learned to distance the quantity material, like cheap mobile games, from the quality material that the indie markets produce, like Dust: An Elysian Tail.
Maybe books and the book market just need to grow up a little bit and make the same distinction?
That’s going to be hard however, because—
Publishers are Jerks
Yeah, this one came up in more than a few comments, and while the “jerks” addition is my own, there was some definite commentary in that direction. For example, one of the earliest comments, from PaulAsaran, was simply—
Without reading the article yet, I’m going to guess that the reason is publisher propaganda.
Yup. Pretty straightforward. They weren’t the only one to address this either. Another early comment felt that the blame fell to publishers as well. SevenofEleven said:
Yeah, [this does make sense] if you look at it from the publisher point of view. Indies deprive publishers of money because they don’t have to deal with that person. By not having Indie Writer Jo Blow in their stable, publishers lost a chance at getting a winner.
For starters, they can exude pressure on bookstores everywhere.
Exactly. Indies are competition to the big book publishers. This is how they push back and try to preserve their turf.
Zontargs added their own stance on the matter:
While a lot of the old material I like was handled by the big publishers decades ago, new stuff that I like usually comes out of small publishers or indies. I read The Martian back when it was on Weir’s website, because no publisher wanted it.
In any case, the authors hanging out over at the blog linked [earlier in the comment] all agree with your assessment: it’s the publishers themselves, the (increasingly few) authors who are well-paid by those same publishers, the literary magazines, the reviewers… all the people who benefit from the current system who are pushing the “indie is full of shit” meme.
Said link was to The Mad Genius Club, for the curious.
Even I got into the mix with this one, replying to one commentator that couldn’t believe the publishers would actively try and go after indies by pointing out a few heavyihitting real-world examples:
… it’s targeted. For example, Hachette’s investor slides had a whole section on all of the indie publishers they were buying out of the business (over 40 in one year). The goal, they told investors, was twofold: First, to reduce competition in the market by acquiring other publishing outlets, and second, by gaining control of the contracts of authors signed with those small publishers and crushing the ones they didn’t want competing with their own works. This isn’t fearmongering, this was straight up in their investor presentation. The iron fist of the big 5.
Secondly, if you follow news about the market, the lashing isn’t hard to see. For example, last year there was a two-month period where once a week an article was published in a major newspaper about the “death of ebooks” or how “studies (which we won’t cite) say ebooks are bad for your brain,” etc etc. Each of these articles were rewrites of the same thing that’s gone back for half a decade now.
Personally, I still think this has a large amount to do with it. Unlike other mediums, which have resigned themselves to at least co-existing with indie elements, or even embracing them like the games industry, the book industry seems determined to fight back the “evil indie market” as hard as they can. Why? Who stands to lose anything? Is it the readers? Hmmm … no. The authors? Well, given that indie authors (or authors that split between the two) are making more than normal, traditionally published authors, and traditional author wages are dropping, to the degree that many are jumping ship to indie for that extra cash … no, it’s not the authors.
But the publishers? Oh yeah, they stand to lose a lot of money to those darn, upstart authors. And they know it. Crud, as I pointed out, a whole section of Hachette’s investor slides was effectively about how to prevent this.
The big publishers are jerks. And on top of that …
Publishers Aren’t in It for the Audience
Okay, this one’s kind of a collection of two different overlapping discussions about publishers that cropped up in the comments and managed to become one of the most commonly discussed back and forths among commentators. Like I said, two overlapping ideas, closely entwined enough that I’ll subhead them both under this.
The first was the idea that publishers aren’t in it to publish “Good” books, but rather “books that will sell.” Or at least, books that they think will sell. For example, a lot of commentators, in a move that mirrored my own, brought up The Martian and why it was indie. Again, we had comments like Zontargs, who stated:
I read The Martian back when it was on Weir’s website, because no publisher wanted it.
I had my own two cents in the mix, as usual, adding in my personal experience with submitting to a publisher:
I still have the first rejection letter I ever got back from a publisher. It was for a Sci-Fi story. The response, personalized, boiled down to ‘This was really good, well-written, and creative. Unfortunately, it is not one of the three types of Sci-Fi stories we believe the market will buy right now. If you happen to write one of these types, please send it in, but other than that, we do not want to try and sell something we don’t know the market for.’
This idea that publishers weren’t quite looking for a “good” book but more a “saleable” book became further entwined with a second idea—that of the publishers also looking to send an ideological message or choosing works that suited internal currents among their own tiny circle, which in turn meant that they were turning away plenty of good works not just because it “wouldn’t sell” but because it wasn’t the “vogue” ideology at the time. As Bad Horse pointed out:
I think there are /lots/ of stories that publishers will not sell. One notable class is stories that take consequentialist ethics seriously, like Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.
Could The Martian have been published? Well, it’s very old-school SF–a story about engineers solving technical problems. Publishers still publish a handful of these stories, but only by authors who’ve been publishing for 30 years and already have an audience, like Kim Stanley Robinson or Allen Steele. I don’t think any major publisher has taken on a new author of hard SF stories in 20 years. They’re like Westerns–seen as behind the times, an embarrassing reminder of SF stereotypes, and kept on only until their readers die out. So, no, I don’t think it would have been published except as an indie.
And in another comment by the same individual:
The problem I perceive in publishing is simply a market failure, caused by the extent to which publishers *aren’t* in the business for the money. Nobody goes into publishing to make money. They go into publishing because they have views they want to express. It takes a lot of ideological brainwashing for publishers to convince themselves that hard SF or action-adventure sci-fi can’t sell. But old-school SF is stigmatized; it’s “not socially relevant”; it won’t win a Nebula; you lose status in the publishing community for publishing it.
This in turn exploded into an entire debate about the direction of the publishing industry and what they were actually interesting in publishing, with a lot of ground covered on both sides. In particular, the aforementioned Bad Horse actually linked a five-part essay series on his investigations into the “literary” end of the writing world in relation to colleges and how it’s been gradually turned into a radical-left mouthpiece. Dozens of citations, quotes, links to other essays. Seriously, I’ll quote the comment here because whoa.
Yes, his essays are on a fanfic site dedicated to colorful ponies. Funny how the world works, isn’t it? Still worth a look if you’re curious. Here’s the comment, in reply to another commentator:
“The main thing they’re looking for is authors who do something new and interesting with language — with the language itself…”
Yes, and I don’t give a damn about that. I want good stories. I’m not much interested in their experimentation with English, at least not while it’s still just experimentation.
And the emphasis on doing something “new” with English usually damages the story. Say what you will about Finnegan’s Wake, it’s a lousy story.
(The whole emphasis on doing something “new” is based on the modernist/post-modernist metaphysics which says that content–what actually happens in the story–is merely a matter of what elements are in the story, not in how they are causally arranged, and therefore content is not a possible source of novelty or interest. This is because modernists and especially post-modernists are essentially Platonists, and believe neither in original ideas, nor that an idea can emerge from a structure rather than from an essence. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s their basic metaphysics. You can find parts of this metaphysic expressed in doctrinal modernist and post-modernist writings such as “Cubism” (Gleize & Metzinger 1912), “Death of the Author” (Barthes 1968), and On Grammatology (Derrida).)
“… as well as having interesting and meaningful stories …”
Interesting and meaningful stories of particular types, by particular people, about particular topics. I’ve already posted 4 blog posts on this topic, so I’ll just link to them rather than repeat myself. See:
- the section The three kinds of permissible novels in How I took a literary theory class and accidentally stopped hating Republicans, part 1
- the section Splintering into English and Creative Writing in HITALTCAASHR part 3.2: Teaching English: 1987-1990
- all of White Teeth: Anatomy of a ‘quality’ bestseller
- Review–Creating Faulkner’s Reputation
There’s a big difference between asking whether good novels are published (sure, some are), and asking whether anygood novel can get published. The restrictions on what can get published in the English language are currently very narrow. Non-“white” authors, like the ones you mentioned, have more leeway, but they have their own sets of restrictions imposed, most significantly the expectation that their book will in some way represent their race or culture rather than be a personal vision.
Personally, having seen the kind of stories “literary” publishers are pushing, and seeing descriptions of a book that, rather than tell me what the book is about, say things like “A stunning work starring two cis-gendered people of color” and think that’s an adequate description (note that it says nothing about what the book is about, just plays some token cards) … I’m not going to disagree with some of these points. There’s definitely a trend of “pushing” a socio-ideological echo chamber in the industry.
That’s all the further I’ll go on that. But I think there is value in tying it back to the rise of the indie market and the attitudes against it. Seeing indies as the “bastion” of an “evil” opposing socio-political view, and the trad-pubs as the “righteous upholders of X mindset” would explain some of the reactions out there. If publishers are pushing ideology as one of their primary concerns, the inability to control another outlet would definitely give rise to tensions.
All right, we’re into the last two major points, with more people bringing these up than any other. First up, we have—
The Time Investment of Reading
This one was brought up by a number of commentators. No sense in delaying it, or even explaining it, as many of them did the job well enough on their own. Take commentator Batwing Candlewax’s (whoa) explanation, for example:
… reading requires a much greater investment of time on the part of the reader. While one might spend an half-hour or so listening to a new band, or an hour or two playing a new game, before deciding whether they like it enough to stick with it; getting into a new book takes days, or weeks. So readers are less likely to try something new and unfamiliar, especially if they have to pay for it.
Or Pepperbrony (and now I want Peppered Steak; I blame you):
To add to this, look at things from the consumer’s side of the equation. To decide whether or not you like a song, you spend all of three or four minutes listening to it. For a video game, you’ll know if you like the gameplay within half an hour. Movies are usually no more than one and a half, two hours. But for a book, it can take days worth of reading before you know if it’s good.
If it turns out that the book is in that unfortunate place between excellent (where you don’t want to put it down) and crap (where the bad quality is obvious from the first page), readers can feel like they’ve wasted too much time with something that they didn’t like. Most people simply won’t want to take the risk.
You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can judge the game by its screenshots. Let’s return to [the Steam Store]. Just hovering over entries for second or two will give you an idea, do you want to look closer or not. Good luck trying it with the books.
… how many have time to flip through a hunderd of pages or forty minutes of reading? Books do compete with all other forms of entertainment for the scarce free time of the reader. Why won’t I go and buy Factorio instead?
It’s about time, time and again time.
Or Mitch H:
Time investment is totally more important in reading than it is in music …
So, with an indie book, it’s hard to tell if it’s bad right away … (Unless the basics of spelling and grammar are obviously terrible from the outset.) Crafting a good story arc with a satisfying ending is hard and even experienced writers often screw it up… which means a reader doesn’t know the book is bad until it’s too late.
Honestly? These are all solid points.
Games? Flip through a few screen shots. Watch a let’s play. Movies? Go watch the trailer! Music? Listen to a sample, probably while doing other things! Books?
Uuuuummm … read a review? As in, read before you do your reading, just to know if the next bit of reading might be fun?
Yeah, I see a problem here. Books aren’t easy to get a handle on, and don’t nearly provide as instantaneous a judgement as other media. A song you can be tapping your toes to in an instant. A movie, the trailer sells or doesn’t. A game? There’s plenty to look at. But a book?
There aren’t “book trailers.” A few have been tried. It doesn’t really work. And authors can offer previews, as I do, but as one of the commentators pointed out, who wants to spend 40 minutes reading a story to decide if they want to buy said story?
Granted, that gets into hooks and opening chapters and the like, but the point does stand. It’s like telling moviegoers at the theater “Not sure what you want to see? Stand in the back for ten minutes and give it a whirl.” There’s just a disconnect there.
Personally, this just plays into (and a few people mentioned) that people just don’t read anymore. It’s seen as something to be derided, rather than embraced.
Is there a solution to that, or the trailer issue, that doesn’t involve the final, and most discussed point? I don’t know. But this last one would help …
Indie Lacks a Voice
This was the largest point plugged by commentators by far. It’s not that indie books are bad … well, not all of them. There’s definitely a large amount of low effort indie fiction out there. But as many commentators pointed out, there’s plenty of gold among all that dross as well.
The problem is, there isn’t any way to find it. Trad pub has plenty of dross as well, but where they succeed is a massive marketing arm and a load of somewhat-independent reviewing outlets that curate what dreck the pubs do put out and point readers toward the best of the best.
But indie doesn’t have that. Instead, it’s just a free-for-all. And those few places that do start out reviewing indie books and attempting to curate them, that then gain any sort of audience or traction at all quickly find themselves snapped up by—you guessed it—publishers and publisher review outlets, leaving the indie scene fairly desolate once more … save for more indie review outlets trying to get onto the team of the publishers. Or taking cash in exchange for “possible reviews.” Or …
Well, enough blabber from me. Let’s hear what commentators had to say about it. Starting with Non Ame, who said:
I can’t think of a solution better than trying to make indies have their own prestige, with some sort of large awards thing exclusively for the best indie books. Celebrate the freedom and creativity loudly. Max mentioned that Andy Wier got a publisher for his second book. That kind of thing seems like a big part of the problem. If the most successful indie authors immediately get publishers it sends the message that even they don’t value independence, that the goal is to get big enough to get a publisher. If they don’t send the message that they can be their own brands, why would anyone else value indies?
They raise an excellent point, personally. Why did Andy Wier go to a publisher for his second book? He had more than enough money from The Martian to stay indie forever. Hugh Howey is still indie, but at the same time, I can think of other successful indie authors who “jumped ship” to sign with a publisher despite the fact that most experienced authors seem to agree this is a poor idea.
Then we had some words on the same topic from ocalhoum:
Now, my intent here isn’t to bash independent publishing, only to point out that the way it’s structured will inevitably lead to the perception of low quality control. It’s a challenge that independent authors will have to overcome. And I don’t think there’s any easy solution. As long as the barrier to entry is low, sub-par works will frequently be published that way, and the reading public will tend to associate all self-published works with those sub-par ones.
The best solution I can think of is to have a set of awards and recognitions, possibly endorsed by Amazon, giving indie authors special status for reaching certain levels of popularity and/or critical acclaim. Then you can still have the low barrier to entry, but you might also be able to accrue some respect in a gate-kept category like ‘Amazon Gold Author’ or some such.
(Of course, that opens the possibility of unfairness in giving such status … potentially creating whole new problems.)
Pepperbrony (Mmm … Peppered Steak):
Most people simply won’t want to take the risk. On the other hand, if a successful publisher is backing the book then readers will know that people with financial stake in the quality of the story have decided it’s good enough to sell.
This leaves indie books in an awkward place – it’s easy for a bad story to get out into the world, and readers (currently) can only separate the gold nuggets from the dross the hard way.
I think, there’s a lot of lesser known recommendation sites for books.
However, humans are humans and without an authoritarian authority each of these decentralized places naturally forms cliques which then fight for power (yep, over everything) in bitter partisan wars.
Then one of the cliques wins and reigns over the wasteland, because people who just wanted to read books (remember the 1:10:100 ratio) went elsewhere.
This is one that’s absolutely true. While tying into the “ideological push” concept, it also prompted this response in the thread from myself:
But you also raise the more important point, as many here did, of a lack of curators. Simply put, there isn’t anything comparable to the tools the big five have at getting word out there about a “good” book or not. And crud, the few indie book review places I’ve seen have both been small, working hard at getting picked up by one of the big publishers for the $$$, and/or been incredibly politically charged/divisive (a “review” where the reviewer stated the book was so good they might have even liked it if the main characters had been white comes to mind).
Anyway, you’re right. There’s no good recommendation or curation feature for indie books. The closest I can get is good reviews from reviewers, but is there a review aggregate out there that pulls all those together? Probably not.
Tumbleweed even threw a quick line into their thoughts on the matter:
… it’s hard to sift the wheat from the chaff in a lot of this stuff, even if there are some authors who have had a ton of success from the ebook model.
Bad Horse, of course, of course (sorry, I couldn’t resist) mentioned this as well:
No social network that I know of works at identifying indie novel authors. You can’t unravel those connections from author recommendation and reader comments, because there are usually no author recommendations, and the only location that collects reader comments is on the story itself–its Amazon or Goodreads page. Which defeats the purpose, because you can’t find those comments until you’ve already found the story.
One reader even chimed in to point out that even though there may be places that do reviews, they have a low level of “trust” anymore after so many … well, here’s Fallen Knight’s words on the matter:
After gamergame happened back a few years ago and i watched it from the sideline, i honestly dont trust any “review” that much. Rather wait for user reviews and other methods if applicable (like gameplay on youtube for games).
Just because someone is paid to “review” things does not mean they are any good at it sadly, or that they in general enjoy they medium they are reviewing.
Of course, this just circles things back to the starting issue again.
The point is … Indies don’t have a voice.
Oh sure, there are little voices here and there. Clusters of authors that self-promote one another so that a fan of one will maybe become a fan of another. But that’s really it. There aren’t any loud, large voices supporting anyone but—and here we come back to another point—the big five publishers. You don’t turn on NPR and hear an interview with a successful indie author … not unless they’ve signed with a big publisher.
Which, in fact, I just checked on. The Martian was a huge hit. You’d think that a news organization like NPR would have spoken to Weir, right?
Wrong. Check this out. The most successful indie hit by a long shot … they didn’t speak with him until The Martian had a publishing deal for a physical copy with a “real” publisher. In fact, they seem to have almost ignored the book entirely, despite it being one of the biggest blasts of 2014 and 2015, until it had that deal. Interesting that, isn’t it?
Who speaks for the indie? Well … no one. No one but the indie authors. Those few that aren’t authors that speak seem to be just trying for a publisher deal, and the more popular they become, the fewer indie books they discuss, presumably until one day they’re not talking about them at all.
Where’s the reviewing? Where’s the attention? Where’s the marketing? With so many indie hits, why isn’t there a single place dedicated to looking at the indie releases each quarter and finding the best of them? Or even skimming over them?
Indies don’t have a voice. The largest trend in the comments on TIH. There is no voice, no review aggregate.
Personally, I think that needs to change.
So there you have it. A mass of responses that took me more than four hours to assemble and work through to get into this post. What do you think? Is the group mad? Or at the conclusions sound? What’s missing? What’s left?
As always, comments are welcome.