Post by Tahlia Newland
It’s amazing how much prejudice there still is out there for authors who have self-published, or created their own little publishing company or author’s collective or whichever of the forms Indie publishing takes. You can see it in talk in forums, blogs, and in reviews that are unfairly harsh—I have seen some pretty emotive words leveled at books that are excellent enough to have gained acceptance for the Awesome Indies list. (In one case by readers who simply didn’t like the ending and confused their dislike of the story with a bad book – nah, two different things.)
The standards for inclusion on this site are high. Every review and reviewer is checked out before a book is added to this site, and every book here proves that Indie & self published books are as good as traditionally published books. If at least one qualified reviewer didn’t think so, they wouldn’t be here. And our reviewers are people who know. Also note that not all of an author’s books are automatically added to this site. It’s on a book by book basis, because authors do improve.
Being on this list proves that a book is of the same quality as those published by a traditional publisher. They don’t have to meet traditional publisher’s ideas of what is fashionable and what will sell; nor do they have to catch the eye of the right person at the right time in order to be published, but they do have to come up to the same standard of quality.
It seems that for some people Indie books need to be twice as good as traditionally published books in order to get over their prejudice. Of course, there is some basis to the prejudice. Around 1 in 4 of the submissions for the Awesome Indies site are rejected because they don’t meet our standards, but I also read books from traditional publishers that wouldn’t make the list either. Just because some aren’t up to standard doesn’t mean that they all are.
What I ask is that people read with an open mind. Read every book with the same attitude.
- Don’t expect something to be poor just because it’s not traditionally published or good just because it is.
- Don’t grumble over 3 typos in an Indie book and ignore them in a traditionally published one. Seriously, even the best edited books will still have a few typos.
- Don’t assume that if you don’t like an Indie book, it must be poorly written, or that if you like a traditionally published book that it must be well written. Quality and personal preference are two different things and even professional editors can disagree over technical details.
- Beware of emotionally worded reviews. They are unreliable. Remember that anyone can leave a review on Amazon. They could be someone with a grudge against the writer or against Indies in general. (Yep, some see us as a threat.)
- Don’t judge books by their cover and assume that if you don’t like a cover, it must be unprofessional. The author may have paid good money for that cover, or they may also be a visual artist themselves. If you don’t like a cover from a traditional publisher, you would never call it unprofessional..
- I’ve seen covers called unprofessional when it appears that the reviewer is simply unfamiliar with the cover style of a genre eg fantasy covers are usually more complex than thrillers and contemporary fiction.
- The word ‘unprofessional’ is something that is applied to something that is poorly executed and anyone looking at the cover can make that decision for themselves, so you really don’t need to mention it in your review.
And for Indie books
Be aware that it’s a global market. One of the reasons Indie books are cheap is because they do not make a different version for different countries. Therefore, Americans are sometimes going to be reading Australian and UK spelling and punctuation. These differences are not errors.
- Words in which the Americans use a ‘z’ are spelt with an ‘s’ in other places in the world eg analyse is also spelt analyze, depending on where you live.
- Americans remove the ‘u’ from many words than originally had a ‘u’ in them. The ‘u’ is still there in many countries. eg ‘mould’ and ‘mold’ are both correct, as is ‘humor’ and ‘humour’.
Please don’t show your ignorance by claiming that a book with cultural/national differences has spelling errors if the usage is consistent throughout the book.
Now take one step further and be big hearted.
Try understanding the difficulties Indie authors face and acknowledge their important contribution to diversity for readers and the development of new forms of literature. With this understanding, try helping those just starting out to improve, rather than slamming them. They are developing a business from scratch and often with little money. (Cirque du Solei started out on the street.) Don’t assume that their attitude is unprofessional just because you found a mistake. Mistakes can be corrected. Covers can be redone. Books can be re-edited, but a unique voice, once lost, is likely lost forever.
Be honest, but also be kind . . . to everyone.
Do you give Indies a fair go?
Do you think that some people are harsher on Indie published books than on traditionally published books?