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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Is It Better To Be An Indie?

I had a sudden epiphany last week. It came to me while I was browsing books by my favourite chick lit authors in my local library. I envied the success of these particular writers and wished I could have their good luck sometime in the future.

I then went home to look up their books on Amazon and Goodreads to see their reviews. And what I found shocked me.

These books weren't so successful as I thought they would be. Some only had 3/5 stars, and their ranking was also much lower than I had expected. I must have browsed over 50 to a 100 books in the space of an hour, thinking that just because the author had an agent and a traditional publisher behind them, they would be so much more successful than the average indie.

Now these writers have produced a lot of books over their career. One particular author has over fifty books on her author page, but her reviews do not reflect that achievement.

Quite a few said more or less the same thing - stating that she should not focus on how many books she can produce in one year, but she should spend more time on the ones she has written and focus on how to craft them better.

And do you know what ...? I agree.

This author is ridiculously successful but her writing has become so poor over the last few years. Her characters are flat and annoying, and her plotlines are ridiculous and far fetched. She has written a very popular series, and I think because of its success, she has decided to stick with all her old character types.

But then I wondered how much influence her publisher has over her work. She's probably under strict instructions to write more in less time and therefore produces a mediocre piece of work. She probably has an idea of what plotlines to write about and what her agent considers successful.

But my main point is: have the people in question lost touch with their readers reality?

The result is that the industry publishes a lot of books that in my mind would really struggle to sell if the author was unknown. And it's only because of their previous success that they manage to continue to write.

As an indie author myself I haven't got this added luxury. At the moment I am only writing my third book. Therefore my main goal is to produce the absolute best piece of work I can possibly write and to have it professionally edited. And to hope it sells.

But I did also realise another point when browsing these particular books. I have had the same sort of ranking in recent months. Sometimes my ranking has been even higher than theirs. So, as long as I keep writing I see a good chance of success.


  1. I would have to completely agree. Great post.

  2. Thanks Albert. Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. I have to agree, traditional publishing route is not for everyone. I admire those authors' persistent efforts in sending out queries, in some cases hundreds of queries, before they finally landed an agent. But like you said, the pressure of being productive could negate the quality of their works sometimes.

    1. Hi Allison,

      Sometimes I think it's just best to walk your own path and see what happens. It might be more successful than the path that has been walked by many.

  4. No matter your direction, whether it is self-publishing or going the traditional route, the main thing is to do your best work.

    The word 'success' does not equal 'best seller' in my opinion. When you write and publish your work are you happy with what you have done? Has it been your best work?

    1. Hi Kathryn, Yep, I totally agree here. There are many fabulous books that aren't best sellers and vice versa.

  5. I am a indie author and I would not allow my book to become non-professional. I worked hard to create the style, the meaning and the purpose of my book. I had to learn the process of self-publishing and went through many difficult times. I persisted and produced a professional book of poetry and photographs that I am proud of. I like the freedom to do my thing and express myself in my writing. I decided that the traditional route was not for me because, they would not have allowed me control over the inner voice of my Muse.

    Yes, all that shines is not gold and for me the gold is in the satisfaction of publishing a book that reflects the wonder of me. I rather have one book that I am proud of then 5 that offer no meaning.

    Please, visit:

    1. Hi Patricia,

      Thanks for commenting. I wish you luck on your self publishing journey.

  6. LK,

    Rankings never enter my head. Book sales do. To me, some writers become too immersed in rankings and the like. It's a bit like what you read on book blogs ... 'You follow me and I'll follow you.' Man, what's that mean? And, how does all this translate into book sales? NOT, I presume.

    Agree with you about some 'famous' authors. We have a few here in Australia who are verging on arrogant. However, they are allowed to be because they are fussed over and stroked by those in power. Good example: Read about my personal experiences with 11 book awards in Australia, which I posted on my daily blog on 21 and 22 September last year.

    What a wank that exercise was, besides the fact that it cost me over $1,200 in entry fees and sixty books - which are not returned. Hello!

    I asked myself one question after that awful exercise: were the book award judges sincerely seeking the next Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson? NO!

    One thing missing today amongst writers is solidarity. Trust me. Numbers frighten the hell out of people. Ask any politician in a marginal seat.


    I like your style, LK. Good post indeed. Oh, you might like to be a guest blogger on my daily blog. Always seeking interesting people.


    1. Hi Clancy,

      Thanks for your comment. I would love to be a guest blogger for you. I'll go and check out your blog right now :)

  7. Hello LK,

    Your post reminded me of a dear friend and prolific writer, whom I've known for several decades, and was possibly the greatest influence in my desire to write. It was she who urged me to move from short fiction to novels which eventually led to publication.

    In the past, she often cited the strict guidelines placed on her by various publishing houses, depending upon which imprint (genre or subgenre) she was currently writing. From her words I learned it takes the term "formula fiction" to a whole new level. Nearly ever aspect of the story must conform to guideline including how soon after the opening pages certain characters must meet, at what point they must have their first kiss, the type of conflict that must surface between them and at what point it must peek; and finally when (within a certain page count range) and how the story must conclude.

    She was a New York Times best seller and received the RWA (Romance Writers Association) lifetime achievement in '99. While I enjoyed her writing style, her genre of choice was not one for which I have much interest.

    I think the point I would make is authors often make concessions because it's required of them. At one point, she left her niche and began writing in a completely different genre because she grew tired of the restrictions placed by her other publishers. Still later, she grew tired of the grind and took a lengthy break from writing all together.

    Your point that Indies have certain advantages over traditional authors is very true. Without the demands of publishers and agents, an Indie is free to concentrate on their craft... which is always a good thing.

    Be well,

    1. Hi William, thank you very much for commenting. I did not know publishers had THAT much control. I think it's quite shocking.