Special guest post by great editor and awesome blogger Su (@Sirra_girl)
The pros and cons of indie publishing are in so many blog posts and articles these days. Of course, most of the pros come from those who self-published or from the small indie publishers (who obviously has to a lot to gain from this trend). While I do recognize the importance of self-publishing, I don’t think the newbie writers are getting the right information. I like to share my views and to shed some light on the cons. To be fair and informative, of course.
While I respect indie authors, I can’t fathom why they choose to trash traditional publishing. Is it a prerequisite in becoming an indie author that you have to swear off traditional publishing all together? These haters exaggerate the negatives by claiming that traditional publishing should be done away with. To me, these people come off as bitter and resentful. Yes, getting from the point of querying agents to having your book on the shelf is a long, painful process. Also, the industry has high standards when it comes to what they want to publish. But should a writer forgo the traditional route just because of rejections? Whatever happened to perseverance for your art? This is a clear case of people who seek instant gratification.
Let’s face the facts. Indie publishing is still in its infancy. There is no clear guideline and standard practices. And with the emergence of ebooks, these writers are printing out one book after another like a factory. So far, I’ve seen dozens of badly-written books and fake 5-star reviews running rampant. Where is the quality control? Of all of their claims, what I find more disturbing is their claim of not needing an editor. This is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard. Nearly all traditionally published books have gone through editors. What makes indie books so special?
Bypassing the traditional publishing route is one thing, but skipping the editing process entirely is lunacy. Not only do editors proofread for grammar issues and typos, they focus on big issues such as plot, pacing, character development, word-usage, syntax error, etc. Editing encompasses so much more than spotting a spelling error. Not that spelling errors are forgivable. Readers will be the first ones to notice that. Ultimately these books will suffer the FAPO syndrome. For the author’s pleasure only.
Indie authors will claim that traditionally published books contain some errors, too. They’re right, but the errors are minor. What I’ve seen in indie books is much more serious. Some of these were so poorly written that their books were incoherent and downright stupid. Some simply defied logic all together. Those books should not have been published because they surely must have and will ruin the careers of these authors. And for them to be proud of the fact that they didn’t need editors’ help is saying that they’re proud of being substandard. Very sad.
Let me give you a simple analogy. It’s like selling a house. Anyone could put up a For Sale sign in front of their lawns and try to sell a house. A savvy person might even take a few pictures and advertise in local papers or on Craigslist. All because they want to save the 6-7% commission they have to fork out to the real estate agents. 82% of the sold homes were sold by professional real estate companies. And on average, they get 16% more profit than selling it on their own. The exposure and the expertise were important. But what was equally important was the fact that the agents guide them in the right direction to make their house “salable.”
That may have been an oversimplification of the subject, but I think I proved my point. Go through a literary agency or go on your own. That part is up to you. I’m not here to persuade anyone. I’m here to explain the ugly side of indie publishing which may be the self-destructing factor of this industry. Some might question my motive for writing this post because I am an editor. Well, I didn’t write this post to advertise my editing service nor did I try to put traditional publishing industry upon a pedestal. To conclude, I will offer my humble advice for the writers and authors out there.
Newbie writers! Do not be swayed by these pro-indie advertisements. Indie publishing is not only route for writers. And don’t be fooled when they say “Ebooks will take over the paper books.” Okay, that may be true, partially. But remember that ebooks are not exclusive to indie books. Traditionally published books are coming out as ebooks, too. So you will always be competing against them.
Indie authors! Focus on raising your standards, not trashing the traditional publishing. Do the smart thing. Write better books. Have them go through the scrutiny of critiques and editing. Then publish. The books will speak for themselves, not your false promises on your colorful blogs, or your constant tweets and DMs on Twitter, or pawning it to your friends on Facebook.
P. S. For those of you who are not familiar with me or my blog, I don’t hate indie authors. In fact, I have a whole section in my blog dedicated to listing and plugging my indie tweeps’ books http://sirragirl.blogspot.com/2011/08/books-you-want-me-to-read-plug.html Just so you know....
Su is a professional editor and dedicated friend to writers. Her personal blog is here and her editor blog is here.