What Indie Authors Should Really Be Worrying About

If you didn’t read my post What I Don’t Understand Right Now, you may want to consider it before joining the conversation. Not necessary, but just a little more background info.

What it discusses is my view on the “good enough” situation we’re seeing with a lot of indie publishing. I won’t rehash the whole thing, but I think it’s one of my posts that’s definitely worth reading if you’re a writer and maybe if you’re a reader.

I’ve put some more thought into it as I’ve watched writers tout the successful books that haven’t been edited… the books on the Top 100 lists that are filled with errors and poor grammar and bad writing but have stories that NY isn’t putting out so people are scooping them up like hot cakes (which, have you ever seen people scoop hot cakes?)

The motto seems to be: People will buy horrible products if they’ll enjoy the story. Get more out faster!

Only, people haven’t taken something into consideration: The Acceptance of Indie Publishing.

TAoIP (let’s pretend that’s a real acronym) brings about several changes we’re already beginning to see. First, we’ve already seen Trad Pub writers taking their backlist (typically books that have already been polished, professionally edited, and sold through a publisher) – These books are ready to go. All they need is good formating and a new cover and a whole new generation of readers can pick them up.  

Also, more and more writers who have been working for a long time — honing craft, polishing manuscripts, focusing on the NY standard as their model — are going to move over to publish their manuscripts (those polished, honed, NY standard editing manuscripts) as an indie. Again, they are probably (if they truly are books that slipped through the cracks) only in need of copy editing and formating.

Finally comes the writers watching these other groups do it (or who fit into that group of “do it right, show your pride” I talk about in the link above) who bring NY Standard (I keep wanting to say professional, but there are tons of professional indie writers everywhere) editing and packaging to strong storytelling.

So, look at those three groups. Let’s assume that between all of them, that 70% of the books are also compelling reads.  What happens next?

Well, ask yourself: If you could read a compelling story in a sub-genre that NY doesn’t touch that much that’s done professionally, edited, formated well and copy edited OR a compelling story in a sub-genre that NY doesn’t touch that’s… just a compelling story, which will you choose?

No. Don’t rush. Take a moment. I don’t want you to feel pressured.

Ok, most of us said, “Choice A, Caitie” right?

So, as more and more people join indie publishing the issue isn’t going to be “How will people find me” (which is repeated as the growing issue over and over again on indie sites). The issue is going to become, can my work compete with other indie books in my sub-genre?

If it can’t …. well, good luck.



  1. This is a great post. It’s kind of funny actually, a lot of indie writers think “oh I’ll never be as good as George RR Martin or Patrick Rothfuss or Hemingway or Faulkner or whoever” The difference between the indie writer and the professional is the fact that professionals spend painstaking hours over their stories–that’s not to say that indie authors don’t take a long time to write, but take a look at “Game of Thrones” Martin literally spent years writing it. I think the problem you mentioned can be solved with a simple dose of patience. 🙂

    • It’s a very split culture right now and people get really testy when the word “right” is used because so many of them went indie to have freedom. But, if “right” isn’t a motivating factor, “sales survival” will probably become one.

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