I know the title is harsh, but I want to examine why Indie Publishing has such a stigma set against it. Sure, I could go the route of ‘Traditional Publishers vilify Independent Publishers’ which I think some do, but not all. No, I think it is sometimes the self-published author that gives a bad name to the independent route. So let me start with the fundamentals of writing a novel, that Indie Authors often get wrong.
Said is a dialogue tag, it is used primarily to indicate who spoke in a previous statement, or in a following statement.
1. Said is Dead
I cannot count how many Pinterest posts, Facebook posts, and other mediums I have seen this phrase on. I am sorry Indie Authors, this is not true. There is a specific reason that ‘said’ is used so heavily in most traditionally published books. Said is a dialogue tag, it is used primarily to indicate who spoke in a previous statement, or in a following statement.
“I knew that already,” he said.
He contemplated the words, then said, “Yeah, I knew that.”
In either case, this is how it is used. A tendency of the indie-publishing community likes to suggest it be written like my examples below:
“I knew that already,” he spat.
He pounded his fist on the table. “Yeah, I knew that,” he growled.
The problem is not terribly obvious. Let me, for a moment, explain. See, when we use actions to describe spoken words we are basically saying something that is impossible. It is not possible for a person to spit and speak at the same time, so saying ‘he spat’ or ‘he growled’ gives the impression of an action instead of saying it. Not to mention most dialogue tags are ignored, so the action is lost in a tag that is normally reserved for indicating who spoke. Said is not dead, but it can be replaced in the right circumstance, Asked and Replied are also acceptable. That is not all, though, you can spruce up the dialogue with actions.
“I knew that already,” he said. He sighed, rolling his eyes.
He sighed and rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I knew that,” he said.
Both of the above have actions included as separate statements, they are not a part of the dialogue tag, but clearly indicate the character taking an action.
2. Anyone can write a book
Alright, this is a tough one. Despite my love and support of NaNoWriMo, not everyone can write a book, at least not one worthy of being published. I know that is terribly harsh and there might be some that think I have a book unworthy of being published. Writing a novel is hard. Marketing a novel is harder. Keeping a positive attitude is damn near impossible. I can understand a Traditional Publisher’s point of view when it comes to their strict guidelines and selective choices. They receive 10s of thousands of submitted works each year, and usually only publish maybe 3 or 4 of those. Those are some insane odds.
Writing a book isn’t just slamming down fifty thousand words and calling it a novel.
That being said, some (many) of those books are not ready for publishing. Which leads to me the idea of NOT anyone can write a book. Writing a book isn’t just slamming down fifty thousand words and calling it a novel. Although, I have read some indie published books that were just that. Spelling errors and grammar aside, some of those stories were downright terrible. Writing a novel is more than writing grammatically correct and well-proofread manuscripts. The plot, Characters, Story Arcs, Setting, World-Building, Rising and Falling Action, Dialogue, and a Good Story are all a part of a novel. The idea that ‘I’d write a novel if I could find the time’ is a cop out. If one wished to write a novel, they’d find the time to do so. I work a full 40+ hour work week and still find the time to write, it is about prioritizing. It is in the same vein as someone saying they’d work out if they could find the time. If you have your priorities set, you can accomplish what you need to.
A final note on the ‘anyone can write a book’ idea, editing is very very important, if you write a novel and don’t get it edited, you haven’t written a novel, you’ve written fifty thousand words that need to be edited. Don’t even think about hitting that publish button until you have had it edited, no one is such a great writer that they don’t need a fresh set of eyes on their work.
Let me be very clear, I am speaking to you, Mr., Ms., or Mrs. Indie Author to Be, get a professional cover designer and pay them well.
3. I can do my own Covers
This is something I fell into myself. I have some Photoshop skill, and I can make a killer realistic planet in space, but I am not a cover design artist. Typography still gets me every time, even with a professionally designed cover. Let me be very clear, I am speaking to you, Mr., Ms., or Mrs. Indie Author to Be, get a professional cover designer and pay them well. Yes, you can go somewhere like Fiverr or People Per Hour and get a deal on a cover, and true that might be an easy way to get a decent cover, but unlike the adage ‘Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover’ people do, ALL THE TIME. In fact, if your cover is boring or doesn’t catch the eye, no one is going to buy your book. You can hawk it until you are blue in the face and still it will sit in cyberspace collecting virtual dust.
So, there’s my list, but let me add a disclaimer. I am not an advocate of Traditional Publishing. Honestly, I think Traditional Publishing is a bloated and top heavy industry that is in serious need of an overhaul. I don’t mind if an author chooses to Traditional Publish, more power to them, but any author that wants control of their pricing, cover, interior design, and marketing, then Traditional Publishing is not for you. I am a firm believer that an Author should be hands-on with all aspects of writing the book, from the first words until the last book is sold. Yes, I say get professional editing and a professional cover, but remember this is your vision, you should have the final say. Until next time folks.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Author,