Author Topic: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument  (Read 7657 times)  

Offline psychotick

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Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« on: January 29, 2014, 02:48:37 PM »
Hi,

It occurred to me today that we as indies have been fighting a losing battle by trying to argue that indie books are of the same quality as trade published books. Certainly many are, but at the same time a great many aren't. Which means that the quality of an indie book on average is less than that of a trade published book. This is basic statistics, and as long as many indie authors produce poor quality work, there's nothing we can do about it. And readers will know this - let's be honest. They aren't dumb. And if they've been browsing as I do and checked out a lot of books, indie as well as trade, they will have come across some poor indie works.

Those invested in the trade publishing world have of course seized on this quality gap and used it as a club to beat us over the head with. Again, this is their bread and butter we're threatening, so there's not much we can do about that either.

And so we as indies will always be labelled with the stigma of poor quality.

But, and here's where things get turned around, the underlying reason for this difference is the presence or absence of gatekeepers. In the trade publishing world books of substandard quality simply aren't produced - or shouldn't be. But the gatekeepers have been knocking out books for other reasons than quality. And as all of us know, often the reason for their rejections has been commercial success. In short if a book didn't fit in a commerial genre or follow a particular commercial trope, it was unlikely to be picked up.

That means if you want original, fresh work, you're much more likely to find it among indie books than the trade published.

So maybe instead of trying to argue a losing cause and to claim that indie books are of the same quality on average as trade published, we should instead be arguing a winning one. That indie books are fresher, more original, more creative etc. And if those invested in trade publishing claim we produce poor quality work that they would never publish, we as those invested in the indie publishing world argue that they produce formulaic, derivative, generic and unoriginal work.

This is in debating a thing called framing the argument. Showing the true costs of choices etc. So everybody wants better health care but no one wants to pay higher taxes. You can't have both. So maybe readers want higher quality books, but they don't want boring, repetitive stuff that they've read a hundred times before.

Just a thought.

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Offline Just Browsing

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2014, 02:50:59 PM »
I don't honestly ever find myself having this argument--not with family, or with friends, or with strangers, or with trad publishing colleagues.

I think the work I put out myself is on par with what I get with publishers. Better in content in many cases. Less flashy with art.

Offline swolf

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2014, 03:01:18 PM »
I agree.

It's true that most of the indie content is below par, both in quality of stories and quality of workmanship.

But we writers should look at this as an opportunity, not an obstacle.  Because it's presenting us with a clear way to stand out from the crowd.  We must make sure our work rises above that level, and readers will notice.  They may still complain about indie books in general, but they'll also know which authors to turn to in order to find better than the typical indie book.

And, of course, when I talk about the low quality books, I'm talking about other authors.  Not anyone here at KB.   ;)

Offline redacted

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2014, 03:04:47 PM »
Why must we "argue" at all?

I honestly don't care what anyone thinks. I'm selling books, I'm having a blast doing it, and people who are reading my books love them and demand I write faster!

Then again, when I decided to write, I never once considered tradpub. I know it's hard to believe, but NOT ONCE. The lousy terms, the idea of putting my career in someone's hands and hoping they do right by me, was never something that appealed to me. I understand that a lot of other self-publishers don't come at it from this angle, which I assume is behind the desperation to be seen as "legitimate."

I personally don't care. When I was devouring books like a maniac, I never ONCE turned to the copyright page to see who published that book. NOT ONCE.

My advice is to stop trying to win the argument. It's never ending and it will never really make you feel better.

Just ... write. If you're having fun, and people are loving and buying your book, what does it matter what some jackass in New York think?

Offline Kevis Hendrickson

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2014, 03:26:04 PM »
I see the "argument" differently than most. For starters, I don't buy into the whole "Team Indie" thing. I don't recall ever signing up to be part of some conglomerate of self-published authors. If you put out a professional product that's been professionally edited, has a professional cover, with an excellent blurb, readers shouldn't be able to tell the difference between a traditionally published book and a self-published one. So maybe the reason readers are critical of indie books is because some authors are presenting their books as being something that's substandard from the get go, as in "I'm indie, so I'm going to be different and not spend money on my books or learn how to do the production work properly".

Me? I'm an author. The method of my publication is inconsequential. What matters is that I put out a quality book. I'll leave the rhetorical debate of why some readers dislike indie books for others who have more free time on their hands than I do. I choose to spend that time writing more "quality" books.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 03:37:03 PM by Kevis 'The Berserker' Hendrickson »

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Offline Rob Lopez

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2014, 03:26:38 PM »
IMO, the biggest pro-indie case, and the reason most readers buy indie, is price. Indie books, on average, are cheaper. That, first and foremost, is what makes them attractive. Indie writers have more flexibility over price (including free) than trad writers and publisher with overheads and specialists to pay for. Some people may complain about Indie quality, but everyone loves a bargain, and lots sign up to Bookbub to get exactly that.

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Offline GaryCecil

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2014, 03:30:54 PM »
It sucks because it adds to the competition, but not for long. When enough people get burned, they will rate them with one-shining star. You know, because if people feel burned over a buck (or even free) title, they feel enticed to let the world know about it. I think most people will sort, using the 3-star and above filter, so these crappy titles will get overlooked, eventually. 8)
« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 03:48:57 PM by GaryCecil »
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Offline Calvin Locke

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2014, 03:33:24 PM »
I agree, in principle. There are exceptions, of course, but that goes with any rule or principle.

Yes, there are top-quality indies. That serves to raise the average.

Sure, some trad published books suck. This lowers that average.

The OP is right. It's not different than any other product. People will pay for consistency. They will take a risk for less money.

Offline Vaalingrade

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2014, 03:34:07 PM »
It occurred to me today that we as indies have been fighting a losing battle by trying to argue that indie books are of the same quality as trade published books.

The only place this 'battle' is playing out is in our heads. Most readers neither notice nor care if the book they're getting is indie or trad-pubbed. The only way they're going to notice is if indie authors keep yelling 'I PROMISE I DON'T SUCK' in their faces every five minutes.

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Offline BokkenRecord

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2014, 04:22:30 PM »
With my reader hat on:

The average quality of independent books vs tradpub would only matter to me if I were planning on reading all 2 million (or whatever the number is) books currently published.

Even in the genres I mostly read there are approx 100000 books listed on Amazon.

At an average of one book a week, if I live to a typical age I *might* manage another ::counts on fingers:: 2000 books.

Since the market opened up in the last few years I'm buying good books faster than I can read them, and I guess approx 70% are indie (I seldom bother checking). Proportionately I find as many duds in the tradpub books (derivative formula).

Honestly I'm not seeing a quality problem. If I don't like a book it goes into the DNF folder and onto the next. Happy days  ;D

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2014, 04:30:15 PM »
That indie books are fresher, more original, more creative etc.

But they aren't. Very few people are self-publishing truly original and experimental fiction. The people who are most successful are publishing in very mundane genres with very strong, expected tropes where originality is really less important the just giving the reader entertainment. Because I don't care how original someone thinks her half-angel/half-werewolf falling in love with a half-vampire/half-elf who are struggling against the evil half-demon/half dragon villain trying to keep them apart. It's still a girl meets boy love story. With the exception of the rare few, the majority of people really getting big sales (and let's be honest, all people around here REALLY care about are big sales and their Amazon sales rank) are doing so in the traditional genre areas where originality isn't really the selling feature...escapism is.

The thing to do is to simply stop engaging in the argument. The argument has no power over you if you don't engage it. Stop feeding the trolls. Stop visiting the hater blogs and then rushing over here to post a link so that everyone gets riled up when some 5th string "trade" author decides he needs pageviews and takes the easy route. Just stop engaging in the nonsense and worry about your books and your readers.


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Offline moirakatson

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2014, 05:20:07 PM »
I've noticed that less readers seem to be buying the "indie books are awful" line than used to. My family and friends, who are mostly people with TBR lists as tall as they are, universally suggested self-publishing and never bought my "but the QUALITY!" protests. (A hearty thank you to them for setting me straight.)

I'd like to chime in on two points that have been raised above:

1) Price is really one of the major factors here. It's what's actually  p*ss ing off a lot of the trad publishers, and it's one of the driving forces in the rising profile of indies. A lot of the quality arguments really seem to be about price.

2) The only way people are going to get over the indie quality thing, and I think they will, is by seeing more and more indie books that are of wonderful quality. That is getting easier to pull off as networks form, so I think it's really just a matter of time on that front.

I think you can support either argument, quality or innovation, as long as you have ready examples. Book recommendations from friends and acquaintances are a big thing in getting books sold.

Offline WHDean

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2014, 05:34:30 PM »
I see the "argument" differently than most. For starters, I don't buy into the whole "Team Indie" thing. I don't recall ever signing up to be part of some conglomerate of self-published authors. If you put out a professional product that's been professionally edited, has a professional cover, with an excellent blurb, readers shouldn't be able to tell the difference between a traditionally published book and a self-published one. So maybe the reason readers are critical of indie books is because some authors are presenting their books as being something that's substandard from the get go, as in "I'm indie, so I'm going to be different and not spend money on my books or learn how to do the production work properly".

Me? I'm an author. The method of my publication is inconsequential. What matters is that I put out a quality book. I'll leave the rhetorical debate of why some readers dislike indie books for others who have more free time on their hands than I do. I choose to spend that time writing more "quality" books.

Ah, I missed you Kevis. I would only add that the indie stigma is only a burden for people seeking collective validation from traditional publishing. Look at us! Respect us! Admit were as good as you are, dammit! From a practical standpoint, its meaningless. One can do things to disguiseor at least not draw attention to the factthat one's work is self-pubbed.

But they aren't. Very few people are self-publishing truly original and experimental fiction. The people who are most successful are publishing in very mundane genres with very strong, expected tropes where originality is really less important the just giving the reader entertainment. Because I don't care how original someone thinks her half-angel/half-werewolf falling in love with a half-vampire/half-elf who are struggling against the evil half-demon/half dragon villain trying to keep them apart. It's still a girl meets boy love story. With the exception of the rare few, the majority of people really getting big sales (and let's be honest, all people around here REALLY care about are big sales and their Amazon sales rank) are doing so in the traditional genre areas where originality isn't really the selling feature...escapism is.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed by this. Its not like I subscribed to the idea that traditional publishing was destroying a Shakespeare a week, but I did expect some interesting things to emerge. I really havent found any. None of this is to suggest that people arent self-publishing quality books. But Id hoped thered be some truth to the suppression of good things.

   

Offline Jay Allan

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2014, 05:43:08 PM »
I've noticed that less readers seem to be buying the "indie books are awful" line than used to. My family and friends, who are mostly people with TBR lists as tall as they are, universally suggested self-publishing and never bought my "but the QUALITY!" protests. (A hearty thank you to them for setting me straight.)

I'd like to chime in on two points that have been raised above:

1) Price is really one of the major factors here. It's what's actually  p*ss ing off a lot of the trad publishers, and it's one of the driving forces in the rising profile of indies. A lot of the quality arguments really seem to be about price.

2) The only way people are going to get over the indie quality thing, and I think they will, is by seeing more and more indie books that are of wonderful quality. That is getting easier to pull off as networks form, so I think it's really just a matter of time on that front.

I think you can support either argument, quality or innovation, as long as you have ready examples. Book recommendations from friends and acquaintances are a big thing in getting books sold.

I appreciate the sentiment you offer, but I'm not sure how it's just a matter of time on the indie quality front when three-quarters of the authors on here go batcrap crazy at the mere suggestion there is anything imperfect about any self-pubbed works.  I guess we'll see.

Offline Fishbowl Helmet

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2014, 05:44:17 PM »
The thing to do is to simply stop engaging in the argument. The argument has no power over you if you don't engage it. Stop feeding the trolls. Stop visiting the hater blogs and then rushing over here to post a link so that everyone gets riled up when some 5th string "trade" author decides he needs pageviews and takes the easy route. Just stop engaging in the nonsense and worry about your books and your readers.

I don't think that's true at all.

The stigma still affects you regardless of whether you engage in the argument. The OP is simply making a suggestion that the argument be framed differently so as to lessen its impact on writer-publishers, which would be nice.

That said, I'd also have to agree with the poster commenting on originality. Take the poster who said she was practically trapped writing erotica to keep up her income. She wrote outside the genre, but was forced--due to a desire for sales--to return to it. Nothing wrong with her wanting sales, publishing is a business after all.

I would suggest that trying to frame the argument as one of art vs crass commercialism simply can't work. For no other reason than it is--on it's face--not true. Granted, some writer-publishers do it simply for the art, but if we're being honest, the vast majority are likely in it for the love of writing and the money finally flowing due to their writing.

Offline Kevis Hendrickson

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2014, 05:57:35 PM »
Ah, I missed you Kevis. I would only add that the indie stigma is only a burden for people seeking collective validation from traditional publishing. Look at us! Respect us! Admit were as good as you are, dammit! From a practical standpoint, its meaningless. One can do things to disguiseor at least not draw attention to the factthat one's work is self-pubbed.

I have to admit I was a little disappointed by this. Its not like I subscribed to the idea that traditional publishing was destroying a Shakespeare a week, but I did expect some interesting things to emerge. I really havent found any. None of this is to suggest that people arent self-publishing quality books. But Id hoped thered be some truth to the suppression of good things.

It's good to be missed. ;) I think you hit the nail on the head. The problem is there's a "hive" mentality that infects those who subscribe to Groupthink.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 06:00:35 PM by Kevis 'The Berserker' Hendrickson »

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Offline chrissponias

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2014, 06:02:14 PM »
I agree with the intention to give a better impression about the quality of indie books, even though I personally hate fiction written by amateurs who have no talent, and I hate nonfiction written by non-experts who ignore their topic.

There are also many excellent authors who are following the self-publishing path because it is easier for them. There are talented writers and real experts writing Kindle books and practically giving away their work because of the low prices that prevail in the Kindle marketplace.

I believe we should do everything we can to help all authors present a respectable work to the public, so that various negative aspects may stop characterizing indie books.

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Offline Sarah Wynde

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2014, 06:12:31 PM »
Then again, when I decided to write, I never once considered tradpub. I know it's hard to believe, but NOT ONCE.

Back in the 90s, I earned my living as a freelance writer for about three years, one book published, one in progress, lots of articles. I did okay, but when I really looked at the numbers, I said, yeah, no, I'm not insane.

Got myself a job as an acquisitions editor and spent a pleasant ten years earning good money doing a job I was good at.

When I started writing again, I never once considered tradpub. Not once.

My first book has 99 five-star reviews on Amazon. No traditional publisher would ever have picked it up. It's a genre book that doesn't have a genre, it breaks rules right and left, it's simple and not, it's decidedly quirky in every possible way. I wrote it and if I'd been the acquisitions editor who got the manuscript I would have said, "not a chance, loved the read, but I can't sell a book that doesn't fit on a specific shelf, and by the way, do you know that there are rules about how plots work?"

I don't feel the need to defend indie publishing. For me, that would be like defending indie music. Sure, there's a lot of crap out there. But it's also where a lot of interesting stuff is happening. If you're the kind of person who needs to know exactly what you're getting, stick with the top 40. But those of us who are listening to the crap in order to find the interesting stuff, we don't need to defend ourselves to you. We get to smile quietly and keep listening.

Offline lynnfromthesouth

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2014, 06:14:45 PM »
I have to admit I was a little disappointed by this. Its not like I subscribed to the idea that traditional publishing was destroying a Shakespeare a week, but I did expect some interesting things to emerge. I really havent found any. None of this is to suggest that people arent self-publishing quality books. But Id hoped thered be some truth to the suppression of good things.

I've found quite a few, but no, they aren't the top sellers. That doesn't mean they're not out there. It just means you have to look a little harder to find them.

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2014, 06:15:39 PM »
Something I learned in business a LONG time ago is that trying to compete on price isn't usually the best strategy. I believe that most consumers seek out quality and will pay for quality, as long as the price isn't too far out of line. I hate to see indie authors underpricing quality work because they feel like their only advantage is price. It isn't.

I think that the more stories that come out in the mainstream media about indie authors having success, the less common will be the impression that indie works are of poorer quality or worth less money than traditionally published works.

I encourage indies to not give in to the thought that "I have to sell my hard work for cheap" and price their work what they think its really worth.

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Offline Kevis Hendrickson

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #20 on: January 29, 2014, 06:31:08 PM »
I agree with the intention to give a better impression about the quality of indie books

I tip my hat to those who follow your lead. I've got enough on my plate just trying to make sure my own books are up to snuff, let alone worry about what other authors are doing with their books.

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Offline WHDean

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #21 on: January 29, 2014, 06:33:48 PM »
The stigma still affects you regardless of whether you engage in the argument.

Here's the thing, though. It only affects you financially insofar as your books can be distinguished from trad books by readers who discriminate over it. Yet you can do things to disguise it and you can use incentives to disarm the stigma (free books as samples, lower prices, etc.).


 

Offline WHDean

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #22 on: January 29, 2014, 06:36:55 PM »
I've found quite a few, but no, they aren't the top sellers. That doesn't mean they're not out there. It just means you have to look a little harder to find them.

I've only found one by a guy who's an inactive member here. At least, the first part of it is really good. I don't know that it wouldn't have been published, however.

 

Offline Rykymus

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #23 on: January 29, 2014, 07:00:16 PM »
What Julie said. (Times infinity!)

Offline Vaalingrade

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #24 on: January 29, 2014, 07:11:04 PM »
But they aren't. Very few people are self-publishing truly original and experimental fiction. The people who are most successful are publishing in very mundane genres with very strong, expected tropes where originality is really less important the just giving the reader entertainment. Because I don't care how original someone thinks her half-angel/half-werewolf falling in love with a half-vampire/half-elf who are struggling against the evil half-demon/half dragon villain trying to keep them apart. It's still a girl meets boy love story. With the exception of the rare few, the majority of people really getting big sales (and let's be honest, all people around here REALLY care about are big sales and their Amazon sales rank) are doing so in the traditional genre areas where originality isn't really the selling feature...escapism is.

To be fair, we do inhabit more rare genres though, purely by virtue of not having marketing guys telling us what we can't sell.

The stigma still affects you regardless of whether you engage in the argument.
No it doesn't!

Let me make this very clear: There is no stigma. It is a marketing line deployed by some very sophisticated [REDACTED] and internalized by the indie community thanks to crippling self-esteem issues.

No on outside of the industry cares. No one. Most people are unaware to this day-- with Kindles full of indie books --that 'indie' is even a thing in publishing.

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Offline WDR

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2014, 07:31:18 PM »
Maybe ten to twenty years ago, there was a lot more credibility to the "gatekeepers" argument filtering out the cruft and serving the best of the best to the reading public.

However, while the media and certain corporate moguls are trying to sell the quality point in the news, the numbers aren't supporting that argument. Titles by self-published authors are now showing up routinely in the bestsellers lists. Even the New York Times which was openly hostile to self-published writers in the past, finally gave in and now includes self-published titles in their reviews. A significant percentage of the top books listed are self-published.

If the quality wasn't there, then why are these books flying off the shelves?
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Offline SLGray

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #26 on: January 29, 2014, 07:40:24 PM »

Let me make this very clear: There is no stigma. It is a marketing line deployed by some very sophisticated [REDACTED] and internalized by the indie community thanks to crippling self-esteem issues.

No on outside of the industry cares. No one. Most people are unaware to this day-- with Kindles full of indie books --that 'indie' is even a thing in publishing.

I hate to tell you this, but people care.

There are threads over on GR where people have asked why more people don't read self-published authors. While some readers say they don't care, there are still plenty of people reporting that they avoid them because they've been burned by indies.

So they do care. Whether any author chooses to acknowledge that or not is a whole other issue.

Offline WHDean

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #27 on: January 29, 2014, 07:43:18 PM »
If the quality wasn't there, then why are these books flying off the shelves?


Because they're a fraction of the price?


Offline Vaalingrade

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #28 on: January 29, 2014, 08:14:23 PM »
There are threads over on GR where people have asked why more people don't read self-published authors. While some readers say they don't care, there are still plenty of people reporting that they avoid them because they've been burned by indies.

There's a rant here, but it's full of WHOA, so I'll just say that I still maintain that it's a statistical non-issue considering that the indie market share is still growing at a frankly unsustainable rate, so there's not exactly a horde of people or anyone particularly influential that's spreading the idea.

The fact remains that the main vector of this 'stigma' is us.

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Offline dianasg

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #29 on: January 29, 2014, 08:42:14 PM »
But they aren't. Very few people are self-publishing truly original and experimental fiction. The people who are most successful are publishing in very mundane genres with very strong, expected tropes where originality is really less important the just giving the reader entertainment. Because I don't care how original someone thinks her half-angel/half-werewolf falling in love with a half-vampire/half-elf who are struggling against the evil half-demon/half dragon villain trying to keep them apart. It's still a girl meets boy love story. With the exception of the rare few, the majority of people really getting big sales (and let's be honest, all people around here REALLY care about are big sales and their Amazon sales rank) are doing so in the traditional genre areas where originality isn't really the selling feature...escapism is.

The thing to do is to simply stop engaging in the argument. The argument has no power over you if you don't engage it. Stop feeding the trolls. Stop visiting the hater blogs and then rushing over here to post a link so that everyone gets riled up when some 5th string "trade" author decides he needs pageviews and takes the easy route. Just stop engaging in the nonsense and worry about your books and your readers.

I agree with most of this. But while I don't think indies are doing much that's "experimental" in the strictest sense (or if they are, it's not selling), I DO think that self-pub/indie authors have given readers original, fresh content they weren't getting from trad pub. We might be working off different definitions of "originality," but I'm talking about niche genres, like Joe Nobody's prepper fiction, or even ElHawk's Egyptian historicals. I personally wouldn't call those genres "mundane," tropes or not.

I'm also talking about HUGE things like New Adult: so many authors submitted NA-type stuff (college-aged characters dealing with love and other growing-up issues) to big publishers, and they all kept getting the same response: age your character down, or age them up. Publishers were SURE characters in between wouldn't sell. (One publisher coined the term New Adult, but they never put their weight behind building the genre.) It wasn't until people like Jessica Park, Tammara Webber, Colleen Hoover, and Jamie McGuire self-published their mature-YA/NA novels that the genre took off, and then the Big 5/6 took notice.

Serial fiction is another big thing that self-pub is turning somewhat mainstream, I think. Not that it didn't exist before, but H.M. Ward is making bank on a VERY addictive NA romantic suspense serial. Sure, her work is fun entertainment -- but I think bringing that form to the ravenous romance community is pretty original.

So, if we're talking about, like, experimental literary fiction, I totally agree -- not much of these writers are taking advantage of self-pub. I think that's partly because the self-pub stigma is especially strong in literary circles (I say this coming from academia): I think lit-fic is still pretty attached to the traditional publishing model. But indies are providing readers with fresh, original content: or at least content big pub refused to try out.

Also, I really don't understand why girl-meets-boy can't be original. (Which is what I got from the quote above. Forgive me if I misinterpreted that.) I mean, M/F Romance is an entire genre that's basically ALL girl-meets-boy. But IMO there are plenty of original romance novels. Again, maybe we are thinking of originality differently.

Anyway, I think, as the OP suggests, these are selling points of self/indie pub. Before, funky genres and forms that readers either wanted, or didn't realize they wanted, couldn't exist because a) it wasn't financially viable for an author to write them and b) if authors did, distribution was limited. I don't think we need to have the argument defending the validity of self-pub. Still, this is why I am excited about self-publishing, and why I think that it does give readers fresh, original content.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 08:50:58 PM by DianaGabriel »

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #30 on: January 29, 2014, 09:08:39 PM »
I hate to tell you this, but people care.

There are threads over on GR where people have asked why more people don't read self-published authors. While some readers say they don't care, there are still plenty of people reporting that they avoid them because they've been burned by indies.

So they do care. Whether any author chooses to acknowledge that or not is a whole other issue.

I gave up reading that GR thread weeks ago. It's the same old tired complaints that people have been spouting about self-publishing from way before the Kindle showed up. They're wasting their breath. There are definitely more bad indie books today than there were yesterday--and the year before that---and five years ago. In fact, there will be more garbage books on the market next year and the year following. Guess what? More people are buying ereaders and more readers are discovering and enjoying books by indie authors than ever before.

It really doesn't matter if some readers don't want to read self-published books. There is a growing legion of them who do. And that's not going to change just because some readers have elitist attitudes about who publishes a book rather than what is actually published. You can bet more bad indie books will be published, but readers will continue to find ways to sort the wheat from the chaff, and the authors who put out quality work will find a way to get their books into the hands of readers.

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Offline Ben Mathew

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #31 on: January 29, 2014, 09:34:29 PM »
I agree with most of this. But while I don't think indies are doing much that's "experimental" in the strictest sense (or if they are, it's not selling), I DO think that self-pub/indie authors have given readers original, fresh content they weren't getting from trad pub. We might be working off different definitions of "originality," but I'm talking about niche genres, like Joe Nobody's prepper fiction, or even ElHawk's Egyptian historicals. I personally wouldn't call those genres "mundane," tropes or not.

I'm also talking about HUGE things like New Adult: so many authors submitted NA-type stuff (college-aged characters dealing with love and other growing-up issues) to big publishers, and they all kept getting the same response: age your character down, or age them up. Publishers were SURE characters in between wouldn't sell. (One publisher coined the term New Adult, but they never put their weight behind building the genre.) It wasn't until people like Jessica Park, Tammara Webber, Colleen Hoover, and Jamie McGuire self-published their mature-YA/NA novels that the genre took off, and then the Big 5/6 took notice.

Serial fiction is another big thing that self-pub is turning somewhat mainstream, I think. Not that it didn't exist before, but H.M. Ward is making bank on a VERY addictive NA romantic suspense serial. Sure, her work is fun entertainment -- but I think bringing that form to the ravenous romance community is pretty original.

So, if we're talking about, like, experimental literary fiction, I totally agree -- not much of these writers are taking advantage of self-pub. I think that's partly because the self-pub stigma is especially strong in literary circles (I say this coming from academia): I think lit-fic is still pretty attached to the traditional publishing model. But indies are providing readers with fresh, original content: or at least content big pub refused to try out.

Also, I really don't understand why girl-meets-boy can't be original. (Which is what I got from the quote above. Forgive me if I misinterpreted that.) I mean, M/F Romance is an entire genre that's basically ALL girl-meets-boy. But IMO there are plenty of original romance novels. Again, maybe we are thinking of originality differently.

Anyway, I think, as the OP suggests, these are selling points of self/indie pub. Before, funky genres and forms that readers either wanted, or didn't realize they wanted, couldn't exist because a) it wasn't financially viable for an author to write them and b) if authors did, distribution was limited. I don't think we need to have the argument defending the validity of self-pub. Still, this is why I am excited about self-publishing, and why I think that it does give readers fresh, original content.

Great post. A lot to think about here. Re: lit fic, I wonder why it's a latecomer to the indie revolution? Is it because of authors who seek the prestige of trad publishers? Or is it driven more by readers? I'm guessing genre readers are more voracious, so they may have been more eager to adopt lower priced ebooks. Indie publishing also seems to allow quicker release schedules that would meet the needs of heavy readers. Sooner or later, I'm sure experimental lit fic and other straggler niches will warm up to the joys of indie publishing. The advantages are just too overwhelming.


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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #32 on: January 30, 2014, 02:23:28 AM »
But they aren't. Very few people are self-publishing truly original and experimental fiction. The people who are most successful are publishing in very mundane genres with very strong, expected tropes where originality is really less important the just giving the reader entertainment. Because I don't care how original someone thinks her half-angel/half-werewolf falling in love with a half-vampire/half-elf who are struggling against the evil half-demon/half dragon villain trying to keep them apart. It's still a girl meets boy love story. With the exception of the rare few, the majority of people really getting big sales (and let's be honest, all people around here REALLY care about are big sales and their Amazon sales rank) are doing so in the traditional genre areas where originality isn't really the selling feature...escapism is.

The thing to do is to simply stop engaging in the argument. The argument has no power over you if you don't engage it. Stop feeding the trolls. Stop visiting the hater blogs and then rushing over here to post a link so that everyone gets riled up when some 5th string "trade" author decides he needs pageviews and takes the easy route. Just stop engaging in the nonsense and worry about your books and your readers.




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Offline elalond

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #33 on: January 30, 2014, 05:23:12 AM »
I usually tune out these arguments about lack of quality in self-published books. I can only work on my writing and my books, I don't have and I don't want to have any influence on what other self-publishers are doing. But if somebody wants to tackle this mountain, I recommend they start with Warrior Forum.

Regarding the gap in quality between trade-published and self-published books; considering that trade-publishers are not content provider, but content packagers, and that they charge 75% per book for that pleasure, should a gap, on average, between their product and self-published product in quality be bigger? I don't mean that books coming from trade-publishers should have 3D rainbows popping out of them and be sparkled with fairy dust, but be clear of typos and plot holes, and yet, lately, I come across a few traditionally published (the majority was small presses) books where reviewers complained about grammar and the lack of plot. It looks to me like trade-publishers are saving on editors and readers are starting to notice, and if they are going to continue with that, there's just a matter of time before the quality argument is going to turn on them. So, in theory, since trade-published books go through many hands they should be superior products, but are they?
« Last Edit: January 30, 2014, 07:56:12 AM by elalond »

Offline she-la-ti-da

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #34 on: January 30, 2014, 05:24:28 AM »
The thing to do is to simply stop engaging in the argument. The argument has no power over you if you don't engage it. Stop feeding the trolls. Stop visiting the hater blogs and then rushing over here to post a link so that everyone gets riled up when some 5th string "trade" author decides he needs pageviews and takes the easy route. Just stop engaging in the nonsense and worry about your books and your readers.

^^^This. Oh, heavens, this.

It doesn't matter how you frame the argument, there are people who simply aren't going to change their minds. I see no point in wasting valuable writing time on something that won't change by blabbing at people.

Do your best work. Always strive to improve yourself. When possible, advise and even mentor new writers to do their best work. Set a good example -- standards, if you will -- by being a professional writer and publisher.

Price books the way you feel benefits your career. Write a series if you want. Or don't. Write in the genre you like. Or the one that you can make money from. Pay for covers and editing. Or don't.

Respect the fact that others won't agree with you. Accept that some people won't like what you write, and won't hesitate to tell you, in excruciating detail, why.

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Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #35 on: January 30, 2014, 06:15:34 AM »
I agree with most of this. But while I don't think indies are doing much that's "experimental" in the strictest sense (or if they are, it's not selling), I DO think that self-pub/indie authors have given readers original, fresh content they weren't getting from trad pub. We might be working off different definitions of "originality," but I'm talking about niche genres, like Joe Nobody's prepper fiction, or even ElHawk's Egyptian historicals. I personally wouldn't call those genres "mundane," tropes or not.

A few points of clarification:

To stay on point, the people complaining about "poor quality" in indie books don't even know prepper fiction is a thing. These conversations very specifically are addressed toward the more mainstream genres. It doesn't make sense to use Joe Nobody as an example of a great indie because he is working in an area not even on the radar of most people. Trade publishing is also full of small niches that cater to unique demographics. Pulling the exceptions on either side into the equation only muddies the waters, because the very people we are talking about "the ones who may be complaining about quality" aren't complaining about the niches. They are complaining about the stuff showing up in their searches when they look for a fantasy or a mystery or a horror novel.

People confuse originality with creativity or even talent. I believe it was Mark Twain that said "All ideas are second-hand." We all start out wanting to be "original."  But "originality" is not the goal of storytelling. The goal of storytelling is to speak on the human condition. Readers read not to see something original per se. They read to engage in the human experience. They read to be entertained. The read for comfort and familiarity. They read to escape. I watched Henry IV pt 1 last night (with Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston). It was the most beautiful production of the play I've ever seen. But it wasn't "original." They didn't change the play or the characters or turn Percy into a vampire or Prince Hal into a fairy. Ye gods, Henry IV wasn't even "original" when Shakespeare wrote it! Everyone knew the basics of the story. But what made it great was the interpretation of the story. The ability to take an old story and make it mean something to a modern viewer.

Which is why I always flinch at the "indies are more original" argument. It is simply untrue. But more importantly, it is completely besides the point. A great storyteller can take the most basic of tales and make it mean something to a reader, while a bad storyteller can have the most original idea ever thought of and nobody will care.

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Offline Jana DeLeon

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #36 on: January 30, 2014, 06:28:49 AM »
Regarding the gap in quality between trade-published and self-published books; considering that trade-publishers are not content provider, but content packagers, and that they charge 75% per book for that pleasure, should a gap, on average, between their product and self-published product in quality be bigger?

One would think, right? I mean, otherwise, what am I giving up all that money for?

But the reality is my editor is a contract editor for NAL and only works on their NYT bestsellers. My cover artist is the same one I had when I was traditionally published.....  ::)
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Offline jackz4000

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #37 on: January 30, 2014, 06:39:27 AM »
A few points of clarification:

To stay on point, the people complaining about "poor quality" in indie books don't even know prepper fiction is a thing. These conversations very specifically are addressed toward the more mainstream genres. It doesn't make sense to use Joe Nobody as an example of a great indie because he is working in an area not even on the radar of most people. Trade publishing is also full of small niches that cater to unique demographics. Pulling the exceptions on either side into the equation only muddies the waters, because the very people we are talking about "the ones who may be complaining about quality" aren't complaining about the niches. They are complaining about the stuff showing up in their searches when they look for a fantasy or a mystery or a horror novel.


Usually the only times I see these bad books is when I use search words and some will suddenly pop up from the bottom of the ocean and you know they are bad just looking at them. You don't see these books on the Top 100 of anything, cats, sub-cats, or overall. Search words can bring you not what you're looking for. One time I used the word "mammoth" and I was amazed at what popped-up. I should have added other search words to define what I was looking for.

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #38 on: January 30, 2014, 07:11:38 AM »
This argument mostly happens in writers' forums.  I used to argue hard that indie was a viable option and that traditional publishing wasn't perfect, but it was a losing battle.  Then one day I realized indie didn't need me arguing its case; it was doing fine on its own, and all I was doing was wasting my breath.  

I'm not saying don't argue.  Go ahead if you want to argue the case, but if it gets to the point where the debate drives you bonkers (like it used to do me), just stop and realize indie is doing fine on its own despite whatever those who dislike indie/those who love trad. pub. say.

Jodi

ETA:  Remembering a Dale Carnegie saying also helped me give up the debate, where all it was doing was making both sides angry.  "You can't win an argument, because if you lose, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? You will feel fine. But what about him? You have made him feel inferior, you hurt his pride, insult his intelligence, his judgment, and his self-respect, and he'll resent your triumph. That will make him strike back, but it will never make him want to change his mind. A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."  That last part is key, and I found it true in the arguing about indie vs traditional--that if you are arguing with people who don't want to change their mind, you aren't going to win.  And I doubt the argument will win those watching from on the fence anyway.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2014, 07:16:26 AM by Jodi »

Offline ElHawk

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #39 on: January 30, 2014, 07:27:13 AM »
I don't honestly ever find myself having this argument--not with family, or with friends, or with strangers, or with trad publishing colleagues.

I think the work I put out myself is on par with what I get with publishers. Better in content in many cases. Less flashy with art.

I agree.  I feel the same way.

However, I don't see the point in engaging in any kind of argument about quality.  Nobody will listen to us, anyway.  The only people whose voices matter in that argument are our gatekeepers: readers.  They do a pretty good job of convincing one another that the quality of my books is high.  I see this play out on Goodreads and Amazon review comment threads and on forums.

That being said, I do think it's a good idea to promote the benefits of reading indie: variety and creativity!  You certainly see fresher ideas in indie books than you tend to get from traditional publishers, whose current model seems to be to repeat as many times as possible whatever was successful previously.


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Offline geekgrrl

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #40 on: January 30, 2014, 07:49:06 AM »
My first career for the last 20 years has been as an indie artist. That community has had this argument in one form or another over and over and over. It's moot. Here's why:

Some people don't care if a book is indie published or not. (great, don't worry about these people, you just keep being you)

Some people do care. Some people will decide to judge all indie books by a bad experience they've had with one or a few titles. Those people are narrow minded. Their minds cannot be changed except by their own persuasion. If that happens at all, it will be over a long time, after many + experiences that slowly chip away at their initial impressions. These kinds of people exist as consumers of every creative market and you just cannot fashion your practices to indulge them. The only things you could possibly do in an effort to change their mind is to put out the best possible work product you can at every stage of your career and continue to do this repeatedly.

The good news is that is what we should all be doing anyway. We should all be doing our best to put out our best work all the time. And I'd say most people do.

The disconnect lies in subjectiveness. The logic flaw that exists in a lot of these "indie writers don't care about quality" arguments is the CARE part. I've never met an indie that didn't care. I've never met an indie that didn't think that they were putting out their best work. But there's no accounting for taste. Just as some people are tone deaf, some have no idea their cover is bad or that their writing is stale. I've met many artists like this in the art world, artists who think they are incredibly talented and are ready for a professional career. LIFE separates the wheat from the chaff. Bad work, doesn't sell. Some people will explore the reasons why, solicit objective opinions, and then take steps to improve. Some won't.

This natural selection exists in every creative pursuit. It works on it's own. So we need do nothing.

Now from time to time people point to a book they don't like that is selling well and they say "The system doesn't work, this shouldn't be making money because I think it sucks." That's just sour grapes.

In the end all we can do is keep our head down, and swim in our own lane.  ;) 




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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #41 on: January 30, 2014, 08:48:35 AM »
Excellent argument.  Well-framed.

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Offline Vaalingrade

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #42 on: January 30, 2014, 08:51:07 AM »
People confuse originality with creativity or even talent.

I call this 'The Originality Trap', a belief that being 'original' from the ground up is the single most important thing, even if story or even mere comprehensibility (not a word, but it should be) must suffer.

I've read so many freaking books that are so wrapped up in being 'spayshul' that they make absolutely no sense.

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Offline vrabinec

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #43 on: January 30, 2014, 09:29:42 AM »
But they aren't. Very few people are self-publishing truly original and experimental fiction.

I'm not sure I agree. I dig to the very bottom of the Amazon lists for sci-fi and fantasy, and there's a bunch that at least FEELS original and experimental to me. They don't sell much, because I don't think the average reader is looking for that, and the predominant reader is the average reader. But some of these books have very dedicated fans, maybe it's a group of 7 or 10, but they are into the author's stuff. Obviously, that stuff would never see the light of day. And a lot of it suffers from a need for editing. But it's there. You just have to really, really dig.

That said, the majority of self-pubb'd authors do toe the line with more traditional stuff. But since those fringe guys are out there under our umbrella, if the argument needs to be made, I see no reason not to include them and use that to your advantage in debate.

As far as not engaging in the argument, the point is made so often, and so fervently that indie books suck and that readers should stay away, letting that go without answering with at least the best HONEST debate you an make to counter it, conveys the sense that you agree. Definitely, the best counter argument is to write the next best seller as an indie. Fill the NYT best seller list with indie titles, and the argument gets harder to make (though I suspect they would still make it, pointing at the bottom of the indie barrel). But there are enough good indie authors out there that not responding to a sweeping statement that condemns indie books is something I can't do. I know there are people who don't wanna get mixed up in it, who cringe when they see it. Fine, stay out of it.

Maybe we can split indies into two groups: those who feel like taking up the fight, chip on the shoulder, who fight not only to improve their own stuff, but to counter the arguments that indie authors suck, and on the other side, the indies who are embarrassed by the display, don't want anything to do with us, and who go away, hat in had, apologizing for the quality of indie work, promising to try to prod their brethren into either getting better, or at least into holding back from publishing until their stuff resembles a book.





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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #44 on: January 30, 2014, 09:39:12 AM »
I see the "argument" differently than most. For starters, I don't buy into the whole "Team Indie" thing. I don't recall ever signing up to be part of some conglomerate of self-published authors. If you put out a professional product that's been professionally edited, has a professional cover, with an excellent blurb, readers shouldn't be able to tell the difference between a traditionally published book and a self-published one. So maybe the reason readers are critical of indie books is because some authors are presenting their books as being something that's substandard from the get go, as in "I'm indie, so I'm going to be different and not spend money on my books or learn how to do the production work properly".

Me? I'm an author. The method of my publication is inconsequential. What matters is that I put out a quality book. I'll leave the rhetorical debate of why some readers dislike indie books for others who have more free time on their hands than I do. I choose to spend that time writing more "quality" books.
Well put, Kevis.


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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #45 on: January 30, 2014, 09:40:03 AM »
Maybe we can split indies into two groups: those who feel like taking up the fight, chip on the shoulder, who fight not only to improve their own stuff, but to counter the arguments that indie authors suck, and on the other side, the indies who are embarrassed by the display, don't want anything to do with us, and who go away, hat in had, apologizing for the quality of indie work, promising to try to prod their brethren into either getting better, or at least into holding back from publishing until their stuff resembles a book.

But this is the root of the issue: indies are not a "group" in anything but the most loose sense of the word. Each of us is an individual business. How often does Domino's Pizza "apologize" for the poor quality of other pizza shops? When was the last time WalMart apologized for Target? When has Facebook apologized for Twitter's customer service? Does Amazon apologize for BN's problems? Why do we even need to apologize or justify OUR work based on other people we have no control over and whom are our competitors.

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Offline vrabinec

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #46 on: January 30, 2014, 09:45:32 AM »
Like it our not, we're being lumped together. Same as trad authors are being lumped together. I think there is a sense of community, or we wouldn't be here trying to help each other. Yeah, I don't want to be associated with anyone else's stuff. I want my books to stand alone on their own merits. But that's not up to me when there is article after article after article that claims that we are essentially the same, with the exception of Hugh, Bella, Russell, and three or four others.

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #47 on: January 30, 2014, 09:53:01 AM »
But this is the root of the issue: indies are not a "group" in anything but the most loose sense of the word. Each of us is an individual business. How often does Domino's Pizza "apologize" for the poor quality of other pizza shops? When was the last time WalMart apologized for Target? When has Facebook apologized for Twitter's customer service? Does Amazon apologize for BN's problems? Why do we even need to apologize or justify OUR work based on other people we have no control over and whom are our competitors.

Good points, all very logical--and helpful to help one stop the arguing when the arguing is not helpful.  

But I think the problem is that many people will take that argument--indie quality is low, fast food pizza quality is low--as an indictment against themselves, because they are an indie or a fast food pizza place.  Thus, the pizza seller or indie writer interprets the accusation on a personal level: if the accuser is saying the indie/fast food is bad, and I am an indie/fast food vendor, then my stuff is automatically bad too.  And hey, well, no one likes to be told that ;-)

Maybe the only way to derail that argument is to make it as personal as it feels: "Try mine and see if you think it is bad."

Jodi

ETA:  By the way, I almost think it is instinctive to think in such generalities, either taking it from the general to the personal or vice versa.  I remember an incident where a relative of mine got food poisoning from a certain restaurant.  Instead of boycotting that specific restaurant in that specific town, she boycotted the entire chain nationwide.  I bet something like that can happen with the indie situation too.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2014, 10:10:40 AM by Jodi »

Offline Hudson Owen

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #48 on: January 30, 2014, 11:26:18 AM »
Has anyone seen a poll in which 1,000 readers, say, read a dozen books--half and half, trade and self-pubbed--and answered a satisfaction questionnaire in which price was only one of several factors?  I'm guessing the results would be fairly close, with trad slightly ahead.

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #49 on: January 30, 2014, 11:31:39 AM »
The only way I know an indie from a trad is if the indie screams it.  Now do not get me started on indies that use others.  Oh and I learned something this week.  If you want to write about a real person even fictionally, you had best get that person's permission or the estate's permission.
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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #50 on: January 30, 2014, 11:46:36 AM »
I hate to tell you this, but people care.

There are threads over on GR where people have asked why more people don't read self-published authors. While some readers say they don't care, there are still plenty of people reporting that they avoid them because they've been burned by indies.

So they do care. Whether any author chooses to acknowledge that or not is a whole other issue.

But, within the group called "indies" are also marketers who do basically nothing more than peddle crummy books.  They write books (or have them written) based on "keywords" and whatnot that are top sellers or in popular niches.  They churn them out as fast as they can.  Some even sell "courses" to teach others how to do the same.  (Stuff like how to write a "book" in a weekend or even a couple hours.)  Some may even buy (or trade) reviews in super secret forums the outside world doesn't know about.

There's no way a quality-minded author is going to be able to compete with that in terms of trying to change readers' impressions of "indie" publishing.  When you have people that can churn out a book (or more) a day--or maybe a couple a week if they're lazy--the poor quality stuff is always going to outnumber the quality stuff.  And if those marketers think it will be beneficial to call themselves indies, they will.  So, no matter how much effort a quality-minded author spends trying to convince readers that "indie" books can be of good quality, there will be people out there calling themselves "indie" who will be proving otherwise.

Effort is better spent, in my opinion, not on trying to convince readers that indie published books are good, but that your own books are worth reading.

On another note, for those that claim to have been "burned" by "indie" authors, did they not use the "Look Inside" option before buying a book?  There are plenty of books I've looked at whose sample I couldn't even finish, so there was no way I was going to click the "Buy It Now" button.  LOL.
       
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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #51 on: January 30, 2014, 11:48:12 AM »
You know, Woody Guthrie said something about music that this conversation reminded me of:

"I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling."

Well, the entire literary industry spend decades convincing authors that they were too ... something to be published. I suppose in a way I am proud to be a part of the change that has put that behind us. Hugh Howey said something in another thread that he was happy to be part of allowing a twelve your old girl to put her NaNoWriMo novel up for sale (sorry if I misquote him slightly since I'm not sure exactly which thread he posted that in). Anyway, I agree with him on that. I hate an industry that told us (still tries to tell us) that we aren't any good and I'm not fond of people like Franzen who tell us we have to have the literati's permission to put our stories out there.

So I'll put out the best stories I can and to the devil with the rest.

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Offline dianasg

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #52 on: January 30, 2014, 11:49:12 AM »
A few points of clarification:

To stay on point, the people complaining about "poor quality" in indie books don't even know prepper fiction is a thing. These conversations very specifically are addressed toward the more mainstream genres. It doesn't make sense to use Joe Nobody as an example of a great indie because he is working in an area not even on the radar of most people. Trade publishing is also full of small niches that cater to unique demographics. Pulling the exceptions on either side into the equation only muddies the waters, because the very people we are talking about "the ones who may be complaining about quality" aren't complaining about the niches. They are complaining about the stuff showing up in their searches when they look for a fantasy or a mystery or a horror novel.

People confuse originality with creativity or even talent. I believe it was Mark Twain that said "All ideas are second-hand." We all start out wanting to be "original."  But "originality" is not the goal of storytelling. The goal of storytelling is to speak on the human condition. Readers read not to see something original per se. They read to engage in the human experience. They read to be entertained. The read for comfort and familiarity. They read to escape. I watched Henry IV pt 1 last night (with Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston). It was the most beautiful production of the play I've ever seen. But it wasn't "original." They didn't change the play or the characters or turn Percy into a vampire or Prince Hal into a fairy. Ye gods, Henry IV wasn't even "original" when Shakespeare wrote it! Everyone knew the basics of the story. But what made it great was the interpretation of the story. The ability to take an old story and make it mean something to a modern viewer.

Which is why I always flinch at the "indies are more original" argument. It is simply untrue. But more importantly, it is completely besides the point. A great storyteller can take the most basic of tales and make it mean something to a reader, while a bad storyteller can have the most original idea ever thought of and nobody will care.

Thanks, Julie. I don't think using ElHawk and Joe Nobody as examples is that outlandish: I was just using them as examples of things that have been successful, that there obviously is a demand for, and that Big Pub (not small press) did/would not bother with. BUT I was talking more generally about the benefits of self-publishing to readers, not about responding to naysayers, mainly because I don't think that's worthwhile at all. So I guess my post was tangential to the point of the OP, though not unrelated.

On originality: I completely agree that originality is not the goal of storytelling -- and that originality doesn't, in itself, mean "good." But IMO, a fresh twist on a girl-meets-boy story is still original and, well, refreshing. Its "originality" isn't negated because the base premise is old. There's originality of expression, of execution, of interpretation. /derail

So, I maintain that the Big 5 placed restrictions on originality (or variety? creativity?) that self-pub has lifted. And that is a selling point for self-published books. Okay, quality might be spotty, but when if you take the time to dig in the pile, you're also going to find a lot of good, different, fresh stuff that Big Pub can't and won't provide. I think that's pretty awesome. :) [As an aside, good/different/fresh is also a selling point of small press.]

I definitely DON'T think "indies are more original," though. That doesn't make sense, and that's definitely not what I was saying.. Any writer has the potential to be original, regardless of how they publish. And I'm not saying that all indies are putting original stuff, either. I'm just saying that self-publishing has made it more financially viable for authors to write original/innovative/fresh/different (which is to say, unproven) things, and easier for readers to discover them.

When I talk up my Kindle to other readers, we usually end up talking about self-published books. Most people do wonder how the quality is, and my answer is that you learn to sort the good from the bad, and that there is a lot more variety, and almost always at a great price. That's why the Wendig debate is really moot: the tradeoff for readers is price/content diversity vs. navigating quality, and ultimately, the benefits of the former outweigh the cons of the latter.

We (if there is a "we") should focus on the good things self-pub provides, and on putting out good work, rather than wasting time defending ourselves against naysayers.

Offline Hudson Owen

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #53 on: January 30, 2014, 12:00:35 PM »
The only way I know an indie from a trad is if the indie screams it.  Now do not get me started on indies that use others.  Oh and I learned something this week.  If you want to write about a real person even fictionally, you had best get that person's permission or the estate's permission.

As to your second point, it depends.  If I wrote a satire about Lady Gaga, for instance, the law would likely protect me even though her lawyers might sue.  To stay on the safe side with The Fight of the Century, that you read,  I changed the names because one was still living.  It was not an open and shut case, however. 

Offline vrabinec

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #54 on: January 30, 2014, 12:26:58 PM »

We (if there is a "we") should focus on the good things self-pub provides, and on putting out good work, rather than wasting time defending ourselves against naysayers.

Again, if nobody stands up to defend indies, the perception will be that whatever is being said in those countless articles, countless blogs etc.. is true. They'll point and say, "See, they don't even try to deny it!" I sucks to have to defend yourself, and we come off as defensive when we do it, but the alternative is to see what "they" say about us, be accepted as undisputed truth. There's a couple gems here and there, but the rest of it sucks, so don't even bother clicking on it unless it has the trad seal of approval.

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #55 on: January 30, 2014, 12:41:44 PM »
Hugh Howey said something in another thread that he was happy to be part of allowing a twelve your old girl to put her NaNoWriMo novel up for sale (sorry if I misquote him slightly since I'm not sure exactly which thread he posted that in).

So he gets behind a 12-year-old self-publishing a novel she wrote in a month on one day, and the next day hes saying people have no right to claim that indies put self-realization ahead of quality for readers? Somethings gotta give here. Either what matters most to indies is what I want (Wendigs complaint) or what matters most is putting my best foot forward as a business person (i.e., a publisher). Youre either in favour of trying to sell people whatever (i.e., because there are no standards) or youre against trying to sell people whatever (i.e., because there are standards and I try to follow them). You cant have it both ways.

I sympathize with people upset over the stigma when theyre doing work thats as good or better than that of traditional publishersand selling it at a better price to boot. And I have no problem going to bat for good individual writers and books. But I cant get behind this indie ideology that celebrates 12-year-olds selling books they wrote in 30 days because, apparently, the most important thing in the world is to flatter the egos of othersthats to engage in the cheap virtue that comes at someone elses expense.       

Hence my slogan: Theres no we in independent.


Offline cinisajoy

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #56 on: January 30, 2014, 12:43:31 PM »
As to your second point, it depends.  If I wrote a satire about Lady Gaga, for instance, the law would likely protect me even though her lawyers might sue.  To stay on the safe side with The Fight of the Century, that you read,  I changed the names because one was still living.  It was not an open and shut case, however. 
No, the law would not protect you unless it was a parody and everyone knows the person would never do that.  You could be sued for various things.  If you want to try that might I recommend Sean Penn or Barbra Streisand.   But I guess you are so rich, you could fight them and their lawyers.    Oh I wasn't talking satires, I was talking using the names just so people would buy your book.
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Offline vrabinec

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #57 on: January 30, 2014, 12:55:38 PM »
So he gets behind a 12-year-old self-publishing a novel she wrote in a month on one day, and the next day hes saying people have no right to claim that indies put self-realization ahead of quality for readers? Somethings gotta give here. Either what matters most to indies is what I want (Wendigs complaint) or what matters most is putting my best foot forward as a business person (i.e., a publisher). Youre either in favour of trying to sell people whatever (i.e., because there are no standards) or youre against trying to sell people whatever (i.e., because there are standards and I try to follow them). You cant have it both ways.

I sympathize with people upset over the stigma when theyre doing work thats as good or better than that of traditional publishersand selling it at a better price to boot. And I have no problem going to bat for good individual writers and books. But I cant get behind this indie ideology that celebrates 12-year-olds selling books they wrote in 30 days because, apparently, the most important thing in the world is to flatter the egos of othersthats to engage in the cheap virtue that comes at someone elses expense.       

Hence my slogan: Theres no we in independent.



Well, obviously, I'm "for" trying to sell people "whatever", since I don't know if my work would pass the test. For all I know, the 12 year-old girl's book is better than mine. But I'll still argue that there is very good writing among the indies, and that they shouldn't be lumped together (other than the top tier) as sucking, and not worth a look. The argument isn't that people aren't trying to sell "whatever", it's that there is still god writing mixed in there with my "whatever."


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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #58 on: January 30, 2014, 01:40:31 PM »
This morning I was pretty surprised to see that Publishers Weekly now has a Self-Publishing section. Plus they are happy to take a couple hundred bucks from authors to list their books. If you can't beat then--milk them.  :P

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #59 on: January 30, 2014, 01:58:49 PM »

Because they're a fraction of the price?


LOL! Yeah, there is that! But more to the point, there are very many indie titles that are priced just like their mainstream-published peers and are selling very well.
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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #60 on: January 30, 2014, 02:02:43 PM »
This morning I was pretty surprised to see that Publishers Weekly now has a Self-Publishing section. Plus they are happy to take a couple hundred bucks from authors to list their books. If you can't beat then--milk them.  :P

They started that a year or more ago. I have to wonder how much they've made off authors and whether those authors have seen any benefit to their being listed in PW's self-pub issues.

Offline ゴジラ

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #61 on: January 30, 2014, 02:32:33 PM »
I've read twenty books this month. (Twenty! Amazing what you can get done with a vacation and a well-stocked Kindle.) Some were tradpubbed, most were indie, 90% of them were wonderful. Thinking back on them now, I can't tell you which ones were published by indies and which ones weren't. They were all edited, formatted, and presented about equally well.

I feel like there might have been a lot more trouble with quality when ebook self-publishing was still getting its feet, but I don't even see this subject as relevant anymore. Most author-publishers have their [crap] together. I pick up a lot of books by browsing alsobots, reading samples, and purchasing whatever looks cool - I can't remember the last time I DNF'd because of a quality problem. (Though it probably was a trad book with fixed font size, which drives me crazy and seems to be prevalent in older trad titles.)

I'm not saying that there are no low-quality books. I'm just saying they're not visible or numerous enough to be worth worrying about. Also, if there's any perception that self-pubbed books are of lower quality, then it hasn't hurt my business, so I don't care. Y'all know what they say about ze haters.

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #62 on: January 30, 2014, 02:57:00 PM »
You know, Woody Guthrie said something about music that this conversation reminded me of:

"I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling."


Woody Guthrie also reportedly said (Pete Seeger wouldn't have lied to us, would he?) that "plagarism is basic to all cultures." And "Aw, he stole from me, but I steal from everybody."  Not at all pertinent to this conversation, but I can never resist a good Woody Guthrie quote.

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #63 on: January 30, 2014, 03:23:09 PM »
I appreciate the sentiment you offer, but I'm not sure how it's just a matter of time on the indie quality front when three-quarters of the authors on here go batcrap crazy at the mere suggestion there is anything imperfect about any self-pubbed works.  I guess we'll see.

Whoops, missed this. I really do see a drive to quality that's being enabled by the growing number of authors. Sure, most people aren't likely to have read an awesome indie book - but as more and more truly excellent indie books sift upwards, more and more people will encounter them. At the same time, more indie authors are finding editors and other contractors. It all boils down to hunches and guesses on my part! I think that's the trouble with trying to pinpoint publishing trends: it is so difficult to get the data you need for meaningful analysis. I only have my own experience to go off of.

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #64 on: January 30, 2014, 03:28:57 PM »
Woody Guthrie also reportedly said (Pete Seeger wouldn't have lied to us, would he?) that "plagarism is basic to all cultures." And "Aw, he stole from me, but I steal from everybody."  Not at all pertinent to this conversation, but I can never resist a good Woody Guthrie quote.

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Offline Andrew Ashling

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #65 on: January 30, 2014, 03:31:09 PM »
As indies we're writers and publishers.

The best defense against this blatant nonsense is writing good books and finding readers for them.

Who do you think will look like a silly liar when one of your fans reads a whining blog post about how all indies suck? Or when anyone reads how indies are gaining market share?

Over time the writers of these The-End-of-Literature-is-Nigh posts will drown in their own pool of FUD.












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Offline Thomas Watson

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #66 on: January 30, 2014, 03:32:33 PM »
I tip my hat to those who follow your lead. I've got enough on my plate just trying to make sure my own books are up to snuff, let alone worry about what other authors are doing with their books.


Of course, that still makes you an active part of the solution.  ;)
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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #67 on: January 31, 2014, 07:13:05 AM »
While this is about the Quality Assurance (QA) done by indie authors, I think we should also take a look at the other side of the argument: QA done by traditional publishers.

In all honesty, most of the ebooks I've gotten from self-published authors have been fine. The vast majority of ebooks where I have had significant quality issues actually came from traditional publishers!

The worst being a top imprint (whose name rhymes with "Phantom") whose ebooks were formatted like web pages with block paragraphs and double-line spacing. It was so bad, I finally broke down, stripped out the DRM and manually fixed the files myself! It wasn't difficult either. All I had to do was two tiny edits in the CSS file to turn the print into actual literary text. The worst was what they did to Dragonriders of Pern. They were actually the files for the PalmPilot, not for modern ebook readers! The typesetting was so horrible as to make it unreadable. I even called them about it and filed a complaint. To date, I haven't yet felt motivated to wade into the sludge and clean up that mess to make that ebook readable.

At the other end of the spectrum is Baen Books. CLEARLY they understand QA and what readers expect from their ebooks. Every ebook I have purchased from Baen has been an absolutely perfect example of a proper ebook file. Their EPUB files render properly on every ebook reader I have and will even convert cleanly to MOBI. I use Baen Books EPUB files as models for when I make my own ebooks to make sure my coding is correct. I can also say that in all the ebooks I've purchased from Baen, I really haven't found any editing errors, either.

For these reasons, if I ever chose to accept a traditional publishing contract, Baen is at the top of my extremely short list.
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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #68 on: January 31, 2014, 07:43:31 AM »
In all honesty, most of the ebooks I've gotten from self-published authors have been fine. The vast majority of ebooks where I have had significant quality issues actually came from traditional publishers!

This is what I've heard from a lot of readers and what I've experienced myself. I got a traditionally published ebook once where all instances of one letter were changed to a different letter (I can't remember which one). I think it had something to do with the scanning process they used to convert the book from print to digital?? I have no idea. Traditional publishers also seem to have a fascination with getting "fancy" with formatting that overrides your Kindle settings. So they go from the extreme of seeming to not try at all to trying too hard :). Personally, I like simple formatting for ebooks.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2014, 07:54:40 AM by caethesfaron »

Offline cinisajoy

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #69 on: January 31, 2014, 08:21:39 AM »
This is what I've heard from a lot of readers and what I've experienced myself. I got a traditionally published ebook once where all instances of one letter were changed to a different letter (I can't remember which one). I think it had something to do with the scanning process they used to convert the book from print to digital?? I have no idea. Traditional publishers also seem to have a fascination with getting "fancy" with formatting that overrides your Kindle settings. So they go from the extreme of seeming to not try at all to trying too hard :). Personally, I like simple formatting for ebooks.
I got one that almost every "the" was "die".  Made it hard to read.  Another trad every period was a /.
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Offline Hudson Owen

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #70 on: January 31, 2014, 08:49:41 AM »

So, if we're talking about, like, experimental literary fiction, I totally agree -- not much of these writers are taking advantage of self-pub. I think that's partly because the self-pub stigma is especially strong in literary circles (I say this coming from academia): I think lit-fic is still pretty attached to the traditional publishing model. But indies are providing readers with fresh, original content: or at least content big pub refused to try out.


Self-publishing is a business model and a technology.  Ultimately, that will prove out as more of the genres shift into indie publishing.  Writers of talent who have been overlooked by trad publishing will prefer to publish rather that accept silence.  Also, manuscripts in the 7,000 - 30,000 word zone are unwanted by paper publishers; but length matters not to the Kindle e-reader.  That is the technological advantage of e-books with the e-reader.  And, of course, you can set your prices and do other things as a self-publisher.  You have more work to do, but you also have more flexibility.

Offline Terrence OBrien

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #71 on: January 31, 2014, 09:10:05 AM »
Like it our not, we're being lumped together. Same as trad authors are being lumped together. I think there is a sense of community, or we wouldn't be here trying to help each other. Yeah, I don't want to be associated with anyone else's stuff. I want my books to stand alone on their own merits. But that's not up to me when there is article after article after article that claims that we are essentially the same, with the exception of Hugh, Bella, Russell, and three or four others.

Lumped together by whom? And those articles? Who reads them? All this seems to be a lively discussion within a small group that doesn't buy enough to affect the market.  

As long as the independent market share continues too increase in both dollars and units, I'd say the lumpers and articles are  p*ss ing into the wind. Fine with me. I'll hand them another beer.

Quote
Again, if nobody stands up to defend indies, the perception will be that whatever is being said in those countless articles, countless blogs etc.. is true. They'll point and say, "See, they don't even try to deny it!" I sucks to have to defend yourself, and we come off as defensive when we do it, but the alternative is to see what "they" say about us, be accepted as undisputed truth. There's a couple gems here and there, but the rest of it sucks, so don't even bother clicking on it unless it has the trad seal of approval.

Another alternative is to forget about the quality distinction between two huge groups of books. Consumers don't need us to tell them what they like. The consumers who care what independent and traditional spokesman think don't buy enough books to move the market either way.
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Offline RichardWolanski

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #72 on: January 31, 2014, 09:45:06 AM »

That means if you want original, fresh work, you're much more likely to find it among indie books than the trade published.

So maybe instead of trying to argue a losing cause and to claim that indie books are of the same quality on average as trade published, we should instead be arguing a winning one. That indie books are fresher, more original, more creative etc. And if those invested in trade publishing claim we produce poor quality work that they would never publish, we as those invested in the indie publishing world argue that they produce formulaic, derivative, generic and unoriginal work.



I get what you're saying Greg,

However, I see this whole thing like this. I'm an individual writer. In fact, we are all individuals who are working to release our stories. We're not one monolithic group. We all have our own personal goals and ideas of success. Yes, some indie writers do get into this for money and that's their choice. Some pursue this route for art and finding an audience and that's their choice. Some indie novels are very formulaic and stick to genre tropes and that's their choice. I guess what I'm getting at is there's no one way or the other. We're just a mass of people writing words and publishing them for an infinite number of reasons.  As far as quality, I think some things are objectively bad like bad grammar or whatever.

But who is going to say one book is of higher quality than another? Why not just let the reader decide? Unfortunately, I can't remember the poster's name. It's buried in the now locked "Chuck Wendig" topic. But he made a post saying how he "chatted" up Jeff Bezos and they agreed on a list of facetious quality measurements.

Being an indie published author doesn't give you more "cred" it's just an avenue like trad. publishing. I would argue, one road is harder than the other but there are traditionally pubbed authors that are terrific (China Mieville) and being trad. published doesn't mean you're not as interested in being a great storyteller.

Again, it the choice of walking one road or the other. Each of us walks it alone, but for whatever reason people get their jollies by lumping us all together.

Offline Jana DeLeon

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #73 on: January 31, 2014, 09:48:39 AM »
I think it had something to do with the scanning process they used to convert the book from print to digital??
Yes, OCR can create odd things during conversion. But if publishers really wanted to maintain their credibility, they'd pay proofreaders. I did when I converted my backlist. If I can afford it, I'm sure they can.

What you're seeing is a rush to throw up authors' backlist in an effort to 1. counteract all the money being lost to indies and 2. make sure they can contractually hold onto the rights for those backlist books until Christ returns.
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Offline WHDean

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #74 on: January 31, 2014, 09:49:13 AM »
Well, obviously, I'm "for" trying to sell people "whatever", since I don't know if my work would pass the test. For all I know, the 12 year-old girl's book is better than mine. But I'll still argue that there is very good writing among the indies, and that they shouldn't be lumped together (other than the top tier) as sucking, and not worth a look. The argument isn't that people aren't trying to sell "whatever", it's that there is still god writing mixed in there with my "whatever."

Recall the OPs basic question, which, I should add, is a reasonable one: How do you get rid of the poor-quality stigma associated with the indie/SP brand? The first part of the answer is that you cant fix the brand because you cant control what gets self-published or who flies the indie flag. The second part of the problem is that you cant control the brands representatives. Look at it from the trad-pub perspective. Franzen runs down SP books and a lot of people identify him and his attitude with traditional publishing, as if hes the spokesman for every trad-pubbed writer. They say, Look! Thats what theyre all about! Snobs! Elitists! The same thing happens to the indie brand when people shout embrace mediocrity and celebrate 12-year-olds selling books they wrote in a month. Outsiders say, Look! I told you! These people are all hacks!

So what does someone who wants to self-publish good books do about the stigma? For one, you probably dont want to draw attention to the fact by doing and saying stereotypical things: bad covers, bad blurbs, bad formatting, bad prose, bad attitude toward readers, screeching at critics and reviewers, etc. As far as I can tell, all the successful self-published people have followed indie marketing tactics, but theyve followed trad-pubbed books when it comes to the product (i.e., you cant really tell from looking at their books that theyre self-published).

Put another way, the successful people havent tried to gain acceptance by first wining an ideological/brand war that cant be won; theyve adapted to the environment as it is. Thats why all their advice mirrors traditional practice: professional covers, blurbs, formatting, editing, etc., and not, Well, first we have to persuade Franzen et al. that SP books are all great because everythings a matter of taste. Unless the poor quality is in a trad book; then quality does exist and trad books dont have it either! And I gotta right!

As for your book, this is the only answer(s) I can give. If a friend came to me and said hed written the great American novel and that he was going to self-publish it, Id probably say, Good for you! I hope the world is ready (and under my breath, Dont forget to use a penname). If a friend came to me for help with a novel and said he wanted to make a living writing, Id probably read the manuscript, point out what I thought were problems, offer whatever fixes I could, and repeat everything successful indies have said about writing and selling books. The only important note on these two answers is that theres no half-way between them. Im not playing Publishing Police in the first case, but Im not playing Snowflake Apostle in the second either.

LOL! Yeah, there is that! But more to the point, there are very many indie titles that are priced just like their mainstream-published peers and are selling very well.

Good to know someone (other than Vrab) has a sense of humour. Konrath used to talk a lot about the advantage of low prices. Because you can sell your books for less than traditional books, you can sell more of them (all other things being equal). Thats a huge advantage for SP writers because the higher royalties more than compensate for the lower per unit price: you can sell more books at a higher profit. Now that SP books show up in bestseller lists, people assume a kind of parity has been reached. That might be good for the validation of the writers indie ego; but its not good for the writer-as-publisher to forget that price is one of the most important variables in sales. (Of course, I never get distracted by ego because I already have a surplus of it.) 


Offline EmilyG

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #75 on: January 31, 2014, 10:13:10 AM »
Recall the OPs basic question, which, I should add, is a reasonable one: How do you get rid of the poor-quality stigma associated with the indie/SP brand? The first part of the answer is that you cant fix the brand because you cant control what gets self-published or who flies the indie flag. The second part of the problem is that you cant control the brands representatives.

But I don't think the average consumer even knows they are reading indie books. They buy from an Amazon list or an also-bought or from a Bookbub email and never check to see who the publisher is. Even then the self-publisher can be obfuscated through a small pub house or custom imprint.

Now, if they read a poorly edited book and check out the publisher, it can reaffirm their bias -- "Of course it was bad, it was self-published" -- while not realizing many other good books they have read were indies.

I don't think "Indie Book" can be a brand. Just like "American Car" is not a brand. There are good ones and bad ones in both groups.

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Offline psychotick

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #76 on: January 31, 2014, 08:49:12 PM »
Hi,

Thank you Emily. Your "American Car" encapsulated the problem perfectly. Yes there is no brand called American Car but still cars are bought and sold and more importantly valued on the basis of their country of origin - unfair as it is.

For example - and I'll mention country and not brand - if a friend of mine were to say he was considering buying an Italian car - with very limited high end exceptions I would be telling him not to. The reputation of a couple or three Italian car makers for poor build quality and unreliability not to mention depreciation of their products is simply that terrible.

If he were to say Swedish I would instantly be thinking boring but reliable. German equates to extremely well engineered, good build quality and highly reliable. Japanese is the same but generally lacking in style.

Now all of this means that if a new carmaker comes out of Germany he has a head start in terms of potential customer's expectations of his product. A new Italian carmaker (unless it's a super expensive top end sport car) begins life with a massive disadvantage. Which is why the best thing an Italian carmaker start up can do is try and make his car look and sound like it comes from somewhere else. Or else emphasise the sporty nature of the beast.

Or in our case, an indie can try and make is book look as trade published as possible. (Did someone here mention that they were even putting their own publisher marks on their books?)

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Offline Rykymus

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Re: Indie Book Quality - Framing the Argument
« Reply #77 on: January 31, 2014, 09:08:50 PM »
An intelligent buyer choose a product based on the merits of the product, not all similar products by makers ranging from known companies to unknown ones.

If a reader believes that quality books only come from traditional publishing companies, I would prefer not to have them as a customer.

I'd rather have readers who like my work for what it is, a self-published book, and not because I led them to believe that it was something more akin to a traditionally published book.

To me, it's as simple as that.