Author’s Corner: Why it’s Hard to be an Indie Writer

Why It’s Hard to be an Indie Writer

The journey of an indie writer can be a perilous one. It’s not a trip for the faint of heart … at least not if you expect to make a living at it. The number of indie writers who’ve made it big can be counted on one hand.

It was only a few years ago The New York Times even deigned to include indies on their best-seller list. From the sheer volume today, you’d expect readers and traditional media are both rushing to wrap their arms around indie authors and their books.

Except … it doesn’t happen.

Sitting in the dark the other night, unable to fall asleep, I contemplated the reasons it’s so hard for an indie author to make an impression on the literary world (yes, there are certainly some strange things that flit cross my mind in the dark).

Author R.L. Herron

Author R.L. Herron

Then the obvious reasons hit me …

Big Reason #1: Bad Editing

There are several big reasons people complain about indie book quality, and one of the biggest complaints is the lack of editing. There’s a scary thought about why: there are independent authors who don’t believe their work needs to be edited. Yet every writer (even the most prolific best-seller) can benefit from a good editor.

Big Reason #2 – No Gatekeepers

The problem is compounded by the sheer number of badly written indie books, making it more difficult for good authors to get recognized.

Having a trusted place to find credible reviews would certainly help separate the good from the terrible. There are a growing number of outlets, which will review indie titles (like Readers Favorite or Kirkus Reviews). Readers Favorite will do it free, but Kirkus, probably the most respected indie review site now, has a $425 basic fee … more than most indies can afford to pay.

Big Reason #3: Quantity Over Quality

The rise of self-publishing has caused a huge surge in the number of books available each year. Indeed, some indie authors seem to toss off multiple titles with ease. I’m a case in point. I write because I enjoy it, but some seem to do it because many so-called “reference” sites recommend having several books available, claiming “If a reader likes one, they will look for another.”

That’s undoubtedly true. But writing a book shouldn’t be a race.

Big Reason #4 – Bad Covers

As with many things in life, first impressions are important. You won’t sell a thing, if no one will pick it up in the first place. To be taken seriously, indie authors need to present themselves in a professional manner. Strong cover art, exciting blurbs and a professional author photo, are all must-have items.

The decision to skip these important steps can hinder current and future sales. While there are many incredible indie authors out there, in order for them to be taken seriously by readers and the traditional media, they have to first take their own work seriously.

Just as every writer deserves the chance to write and publish, every reader deserves to receive an edited – and polished – book.

Next: How do you format your books for publication?

About R.L. Herron

R.L. Herron, the author of multiple works of fiction, including several Readers' Favorite medal winners, lives and writes in Michigan with his lovely wife, and a finally-paid mortgage. His books are all available on Amazon and online with Barnes & Noble. Visit Author R.L. Herron's Website, Broken Glass.

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