Sunday, 19 February 2012

Indies, where's your pride? A rant.

I recently saw an Indie author merrily plugging her books on Twitter and because I'm of a curious nature, I went to take a look at a few of them.
First things that jumped at me were the negative reviews all saying the same: badly edited, apart from the typos and errors, there were obviously plenty of inconsistencies, characters unexplained, etc. The readers said the story had much potential, but they were almost giving up on the book due to being unreadable.
Yes, you will receive negative review saying that readers don't like your book, the characters or the writing. Fine. That's down to taste, but if the reviews repeatedly refer to plot inconsistencies which make the book almost impossible to read, I wonder why the author hasn't fixed the problem in the six months the book has been published and instead carries on plugging as if there's not tomorrow.
I really don't get it.
Despite the obvious, that those issues should have been taken care of before publishing, I'm baffled that the author seems to have the same comments on a few of her other books. And she's not alone. There are plenty of other Indies who don't seem to care. I just recently read another novel with similar problems. The plot was far fetched, the characters had no common sense at all, which left me scratching my head; the opening had a wonderful strong voice, but about a third in it changed to something each teenager would have been capable to write and I can't help thinking that the author wasn't able to detach herself enough from the story. By the way, all of her books received more negative reviews than positive, also pointing out the plot and character development issues. I had read the sequel and some characters weren't explained to me. It was just assumed I knew what this creature was, but I didn't because I didn't read the first novel, so I was left in the dark. An example of sequel gone wrong. Apparently I had read the newest version, which still contained errors and the inconsistencies. Shocking, really.

My novel No Wings Attached contained quite a few errors and as soon as a reviewer complained about it, I reacted. The novel is fixed. But I wonder if those authors don't have any pride at all to leave their books in that state, especially with plot inconsistencies which lessen the reading experience considerably.

If readers are kind enough to point out those issues, please fix them, and if you can't fix them yourself, get in touch with an editor or someone who knows what they're doing. Stop plugging, start fixing!


  1. I think some Indies get carried away with reaching the goal posts and publishing as fast as they can. Big mistake. Get a good developmental editor and line editor/proof reader. Learn what you weaknesses are and put some focus in those areas.

    If a reader points something out, note it. If it happens repeatedly, fix it!

    1. I just received and e-mail from a friend who pointed out some things in Candlelight Sinner. I actually have some errors in there (which are soon going to be fixed) and there are two things he was confused about. I will look into it.

      And yes, doing it fast is not the way forward. But even if you do it, why don't they fix the issues instead of gathering even more negative reviews?

  2. Maybe some folks are gluttons for punishment. Myself,I have never read a online book. I guess I'm sorta old fashioned in the way I like to hold the book in my hands. But I do respect the DIY ethic of any writer who dares to write and get out their own works,be it online or self-published.
    And I agree with your POV here,Stella. (I didn't see this as a rant but like a helping hand). The field of online writing,be it a book or a blog,is packed today and to be able to stand out,a writer must take care in how they present themselves. A poorly written work will not only garner negative feedback but worse,pretty soon it will garner NO feedback because you have no readers left who care...

    Hi Zorro!

    1. Since I have a Kindle, I do read e-books. Love it. Just started a book which I heard good things about and it starts out well to keep me reading. I hope it will continue this way.

      You might not see it as a rant, but believe you me, there are enough who feel attacked by me. Then again, I'm merely voicing my opinion. I think putting out a novel like that is an insult on readers' intelligence.

      The problem is the good reviews will trigger further sales, there are enough readers still walking into that trap, being left utterly disappointed.

  3. Sadly Stella this is a not uncommon problem within the self publishing community.

    When you open the publishing flood gates, vast amounts of dross is to be expected. This makes it doubly difficult for the authors like yourself who take the time to polish their product before self publishing to be found, read and appreciated.

    Amazon's mania for charging US$0.99 per copy for the Kindle versions doesn't help either.

    I suspect that an awful lot of today's Indies merely want to get something published so that they can brag to their friends that they are now published. Just look at the numbers on social media sites like Facebook who place the word 'author' before their name as if it were their Christian name. Or worse, use the phrase - author of books after their name!

    If there is anything guaranteed to put me off ever buying anything they may produce its the above.

    If you are serious about the writing game, what's wrong with your own name? Can you ever imagine writers like Dan Brown or J.K Rowling placing the word author before their names? they would be laughed out of their agent's offices :)

    1. I have an e-mail starting with author and some people do it because their own name isn't free anymore.

      And yes, you are right, people hurry and join social network sites like independent author network, or whatever it's called, to promote each other's books. Which is terrible in my opinion. I doubt that the network admins read every new author's book to guarantee the quality. So they plug and promote each other with the result of many sales and often many negative reviews.

      I wish Amazon had editors or readers working for them to ensure the quality of self-published books are better. I know many are good, but I still have to find one, only one that actually keeps me entertained from start to finish.

  4. Couldn't agree more Stella. As a long time self publisher, who started long before this ebook bonanza, I am aghast at some of the rubbish that is being served up and called books. But there is an old saying that 'with democracy comes the right for some to be stupid.' I think this goes similarly for the freedom that self publishing has given many would be authors.

    Luckily this freedom hasn't yet been given to those who wish to be doctors, hairdressers or plumbers. Then we would be in real trouble!

    1. LOL

      You see, Derek, I'm a plumber sometimes. Not by choice, but when something's blocked, you need to fix it, right?

      I do think most of those authors have great ideas, but the execution lacks. If only they were a bit more critical with their work and would double check with others, or less up themselves and listen to the reviews or Beta readers...
      Becoming an author, means learning first, taking criticsm and work harder. We all make mistakes as we're only human, but stupidity is not to learn from them.

    2. There is also the rush to be published Stella. A mistake I admit that I made with my first book ... luckily way back when. But I really agree with your point that there is the opportunity now with self publishing to improve the books you've published. I have done this many, many times. Listen to reviewers, analyse where you went wrong, accept that you're not perfect, that errors can be fixed, and improve.

      Your example though of one author continuing to 'flog' a flawed book is however far too common. They are the ones unfortunately who will never learn, yet in their self centred pig headedness, cast a dark shadow over self publishing.

    3. Gosh, I made the mistake, too. Luckily people only complained about my language issues or typos. Though bad enough, it's an easy fix. But I spent ages plotting and developing my characters and tying up loose ends. I don't have characters popping up unexplained and I don't have bodies disappear without saying why, or I don't have a teenage girl hopping into bed with a boy she doesn't even know, etc.

      I rewrote scenes several times until I was happy with it, then asked Beta-readers. There's things that can slip your eyes, but if someone mentions them to me, I go and fix it.

    4. I think this fits into the theme of this post Stella. At the ridiculous end of the scale though. Scanning my Twitter feed this morning I came across three bios that had me gasping for breath.

      One 'Kindle Arthur' and two 'Kindle Writters'.

      I think these three really epitomise the very bottom of the pride scale.

    5. Well, leave Arthur alone. :-)

      But honestly? I 'owed' a machete for months, proposing my editing service, until someone kindly pointed it out. Oops.

      You are correct, though, not very professional to have typos in your profile.

  5. If one isn't willing to put forth their best effort before they publish, how do they expect to be taken seriously?

    1. That is correct, Mysti. Nice to meet, by the way.
      The problem seems to be the big gap of skills indivuduals have, as well as their expectations. Those authors I'm talking about probably wouldn't mind reading one-dimonsional characters or unbelievable storylines. Therefore they don't see fault in their own writing, whereas more discerning readers will be annoyed, as the comments have shown.

      But if one receives repeatedly comments pointing out the same problems, I find, it's time to rework the book. and yes, you are quite right, I do not take those authors seriously.

  6. I'm one of the ones who thinks the ease of self-publishing will be the death of this industry. I have never seen so much crap being published by people who have the money and gall to think they should be published just because they can put two words together. And they think that Amazon is wonderful for giving them a chance. Well guess what...

    When there is so much garbage out there, it brings down the whole industry and being a writer becomes a joke rather than a respected art form by people who care about the craft and toil tirelessly every day on improving themselves.

    1. I just caught your comment Elizabeth. Thank you for saying what many believe.

      As a long time self publisher, who enjoyed, and may I say, made a nice income from self publishing in paperback form for a long while, I feel submerged right now. Swimming frantically in an ocean of Kindle ebooks and trying to find a way to rise above the dross that is being published presently.

      It is said that cream rises to the top, but alas I believe this is a wasted truism when applied to ebook publishing. It's only noise and hype that rises.

      I recall trying to read the first two books by Amanda Hocking when she first started self publishing and achieved a modicum of success. Not wanting to express a 'sour grapes' attitude, but honestly they were almost unreadable due to horrid grammar, terrible spelling and laced with annoying typos.

      So is this the recipe for success in self publishing? If so, I might just give up writing and take up pottery.

    2. Hi, Elisabeth

      Yes, that's what worries me, too. People just write something they have in their heads, they might read a book or two on writing, then chuck it on the market without any proper feedback and the result is the market it flooded with books that are just not really up to standard. Then again, I know a few readers who say the best books they have read recently were self-published. Some of them have even forgiven me my errors in the books.

      Derek: Cream might rise, but it has to be exceptional and in a popular genre. If you write a really great literary fiction, you will not be seen. It still needs the support on the forum, I think. I don't know, guess it'll take some more time until the market sorts itelf out. If that's ever going to happen.

    3. True Stella.

      I usually write historical fiction, life drama or sci-fi farce. Hardly the most popular genres going. But via a joke, I wrote a very short 'tongue in cheek' vampire novella recently. My wife read it and said, 'You're not really going to publish that, are you?'

      Rather embarrassingly, it's now my best seller. Well, at least the grammar and spelling is ok!

    4. Now that made me really laugh.

      See, you found your calling. :-)