Support for Indie Authors discussion

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message 1: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Murrell | 360 comments Before I get inundated with tons of authors saying they do read indie books, please understand I’m asking out of genuine curiosity. I love reading books by indie authors. Some are bad, some are outstanding, most are just okay (exactly like traditional publishing). Before I started my new job I would burn through a few books a week. Now it’s closer to one a week, but I still prefer indie books (Kindle Unlimited is great for this). However, when I find a great author, his or her shelves are often bare. There are usually a few dozen ratings, but limited reviews, if any. My sample isn’t too large, but large enough for me to hypothesize that indie authors do a ton of writing and marketing, but little reading among indie books.

I suspect there are three main reasons for this. First, fear of retaliation if you leave an honest but unfavorable review. This is a genuine concern, but it could also be the reason for fewer reviews of our own work. Second, is simply not thinking of it. Well, now you are, so start exploring. Third, (likely the main reason) is authors are busy writing their next story and working the obligatory day job. There are plenty of short stories that can be finished in under an hour.

I understand that book review swaps are wrong, so this is not me asking about payback. It’s about paying it forward. The best form of marketing is, and always has been, word of mouth. That’s significantly harder if the people most sympathetic to the cause aren’t reviewing the unknown. Obviously the good people in this group are likely to be outliers to my claim. People here constantly give advice, so I look forward to reading your insights. Thank you.


message 2: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Harju (pamelaharju) | 81 comments I am starting to read more indie books, now that I know they are out there. Of course, they are hard to find, something I know only too well from marketing my own books! However, when I read an indie book, I always write an honest review - even if it's not a good one. I know they make a difference for us indie authors. When I read a traditionally published book, I rarely write a review as there are usually hundreds or thousands already, and I doubt that I will find anything new to say about the book.


message 3: by D.E. (new)

D.E. | 7 comments I read A LOT and review a bit. I don't review everything I read as sometimes I am purposely reading fluff for enjoyment. I have started to just rate these books, though. This is also so writers who are thinking of having me review have an idea of what I read. There just aren't enough hours in the day to write reviews for everything.


message 4: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 672 comments Mod
Something to note first: I am not an author -yet- as my debut is still being worked on but I want to add my own PoV as someone who is getting there. Plus, I know that compared to some other people, my 30 books/year is not that much.

I like reading them, especially if they end up good. It's like finding a lost treasure on a deserted island. Delving into the unknown and finding gold where many others would expect just sand.
There are books I found by a chance and enjoyed, hoping that the author will write more. A series I started two years ago, awaiting its conclusion coming in a few weeks - and I will gladly re-read the first two books.

In fact, I am more likely to write a review for an unknown book where it actually helps compared to something well-known or even classic where one more among thousands will change nothing.


message 5: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (last edited Jul 26, 2018 04:38AM) (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4283 comments Mod
Phillip wrote: "However, when I find a great author, his or her shelves are often bare. There are usually a few dozen ratings, but limited reviews, if any. My sample isn’t too large, but large enough for me to hypothesize that indie authors do a ton of writing and marketing, but little reading among indie books."

I fail to see any connection here. Not all authors are active on Goodreads. I know several who are not. This doesn't mean they don't read (Indie or otherwise) they just don't spend a lot of time on Goodreads. Simple as that.

Personally, I care less and less about reviews as time goes on. This is not why I'm an author. So, I review once in a while if I have something to say about a book that I think will be of interest to other readers. Sometimes I have little or nothing to say and I don't bother with a review. It's not out of any sort of fear of retaliation, it's simply that I don't want to. Now, I do buy a ton of Indie books. I don't read them all. I don't finish them all. I definitely do not review them all.

I find your post a bit tacky (and certainly not "fun"). We're not here to speculate on the habits of other authors and worry about why they aren't leaving reviews. I'll be watching it closely and it will be shut down if this strays into negative areas. It's already close. And that is not supportive of Indie authors.


message 6: by Kevin (new)

Kevin C Hensley LOL, because I just read whatever my dad is finished with. I get hand-me-downs.
Seriously, I’m just now beginning to get into the indie community and I noticed this nagging thought, so your topic comes at a good time. I follow and chat with several indie authors on Instagram, but I’ve never read their books and they’ve never read mine. Part of it, as you addressed, is that hesitation to invest in something unknown. I don’t blame people for not spending money on me, an unknown author, which is why I’m planning to offer my book for free every now and then. On my end, I tend to read classics, books whose quality has been vetted by the fact they’re still around after many generations.
Another element, personally speaking, is that I find I’m just not the target audience for many of the fellow indie authors I happen to encounter. Nothing wrong with that. When I do purchase and in the book, I find sometimes that I’m just not interested in the material. I tend not to review these because I don’t have enough to say for a positive review, and I don’t think a book deserves a negative review unless it is obnoxiously bad.
Also, I read a lot of samples. If I see an author using their book a sounding board for politics, especially mentioning current or recent presidents by name, that’s an automatic “next.”


message 7: by Phillip (new)

Phillip Murrell | 360 comments Dwayne wrote: "Phillip wrote: "However, when I find a great author, his or her shelves are often bare. There are usually a few dozen ratings, but limited reviews, if any. My sample isn’t too large, but large enou..."

I’m not trying to be tacky. I would have put this post in a different category, but none seemed to fit. I’m personally okay with the topic being deleted. I’m a student of human nature, and that is more my curiosity. I should have pointed out that I specifically meant on Goodreads. I also should point out that this was not a post meant to focus on reviews. My point was more that bookshelves were bare of indie books. Again, I’m not trying to start a rant review. Please delete the topic if you feel it went there.


message 8: by Anna (last edited Jul 26, 2018 05:39AM) (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 528 comments I've just finished reading an indie author's book and given it an Amazon review. I can't always leave a review because, as you say, Phillip, some of them are not so good, perhaps not well-edited or whatever. Like Kevin, I don't like leaving negative reviews - I might just have made a bad choice - others may love it.

There is a problem if we start to think that because I have read someone's book then they must read mine and review. The problem is Amazon's algorithms pick this out and may remove the reviews. It's right that Amazon pick out swapsies - we wouldn't like to think our careful shopping for a new laptop or other expensive equipment was filled with insincere reviews.

However, paying it forward is good. Recommending is good. Is there a thread for making indie recommendations? Or does that belong in the sister group the SIA Showcase?


message 9: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4283 comments Mod
Anna Faversham wrote: "However, paying it forward is good. Recommending is good. Is there a thread for making indie recommendations? Or does that belong in the sister group the SIA Showcase?"

We used to have threads for making recommendations. But, that is definitely more of a showcase thing, now. I know that's where I find a lot of Indie books.


message 10: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) I stopped reading trad and even small press a while back to focus on indie because trad books in my preferred genres were growing pretty stale. This has been ongoing for over 4 years now and I doubt it will change anytime soon.

As for reviews, I generally only leave positive reviews, if I leave a review at all (I'm one of those controversial authors who don't think reviews are the be all end all of publishing). If I don't like a book, I typically stop reading, so a review of a book I didn't finish would be rather dishonest anyway.


message 11: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Dwayne wrote: "Anna Faversham wrote: "However, paying it forward is good. Recommending is good. Is there a thread for making indie recommendations? Or does that belong in the sister group the SIA Showcase?"

We used to have threads for making recommendations. But, that is definitely more of a showcase thing, now. I know that's where I find a lot of Indie books. "


As I recall, the "recommendations" started becoming very obvious "scatch my back and I will scratch yours" type posts.

Here's the thing, I have a lot of favorite authors whose books I love. Some of them are folks I've since become really good friends with, or they are folks I've met through social media first, began chatting with, and ended up reading and loving their books. In either event, it matters not that I adore their work and want to spread the word. My opinion is worthless thanks to my personal connection to them, despite the fact that I likely connected because I loved their book.

Likewise, there are a lot of author groups who try to pass off their "pay it forward" model of promotion as genuine recs and I have to say, I'm wary of those as well.

If you want to read indie books while helping smaller Indies, my recommendation is to sign up to receive the smaller newsletters that either don't charge authors for their submissions or charge a reasonable fee (ENT would be the top of this tier) and pick from the free options books that look like they could use some love. This is where I get most of my new books since searching Amazon for freebies has become a bit more difficult.


message 12: by Eileen (last edited Jul 26, 2018 06:40AM) (new)

Eileen Iciek | 120 comments Christina wrote: "I stopped reading trad and even small press a while back to focus on indie because trad books in my preferred genres were growing pretty stale. This has been ongoing for over 4 years now and I doub..."

My favorite genre has always been historical fiction and I would agree that trad books (with a few exceptions) have grown stale. The world does not need another book about poor Ann Boleyn!

One thing I have enjoyed about indie books is that they cover new ground - it's not all about the flavor of the month as it is with trad publishers. I've found a lot of good ones in the Indie/B.R.A.G. website (Book Readers Appreciation Group). Some of them are extraordinarily good, and they aren't usually about the Tudors, Regency romances, or WWII. Or if they are, they are from out of the ordinary perspectives.


message 13: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4283 comments Mod
Christina wrote: "Here's the thing, I have a lot of favorite authors whose books I love. Some of them are folks I've since become really good friends with, or they are folks I've met through social media first, began chatting with, and ended up reading and loving their books. In either event, it matters not that I adore their work and want to spread the word. My opinion is worthless thanks to my personal connection to them, despite the fact that I likely connected because I loved their book. "

Yes, there's that. There are a few authors I would consider friends and you're one of them. I haven't reviewed everything of yours I've read for the reason above. Same for Ann, V.M, Charles, Ray, etc.


message 14: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 528 comments Eileen says One thing I have enjoyed about indie books is that they cover new ground - it's not all about the flavor of the month as it is with trad publishers... Some of them are extraordinarily good, and they aren't usually about the Tudors, Regency romances, or WWII. Or if they are, they are from out of the ordinary perspectives.

That's music to my ears, Eileen!


message 15: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 333 comments I read a number of indie books and I leave reviews as long as the book was not too bad. I see no point in leaving a bad review unless the book is really bad, and my not liking it is not a good reason. Nobody likes every type of book, or any art work. (If I go into some art galleries, there is a good chance I won't like half of them, but that is no reason to slag them off.) I leave reviews to help the author, possibly in the hope that karma will reward me with reviews. Doesn't happen often, but I live in hope.


message 16: by Lynn (last edited Jul 26, 2018 01:06PM) (new)

Lynn Turner (lynn_writes) | 2 comments Definitely! Most of my favorite authors are indie or have only recently been signed. I find that indie books are more diverse all around because there is no gate keeper preventing those stories from being told. I also find them most authentic and unique because the authors have total creative control of the work.

Most indie books I've read have been professionally edited, and have amazing promotion on social media, often selling just as well as traditionally published works.


message 17: by Erica (new)

Erica Forrest | 14 comments I agree, I almost never know if a book is indie or not, only if I like it enough to go investigate the author afterwards. Since I mainly read on Kindle I'm exposed to a mixed bag and I just read what I think I'll like, and review it if it turns out I'm right. I think indie authors have just as much chance to get my review as anyone, as long as I like their book.


message 18: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments I haven't read a 'real' trad book in the last 5 years. I did read a couple small press though. (I believe The Fifth Wave fits in that category?) Even with the Fifth Wave, while I bought the third book, I haven't touched it. :/

I prefer the freshness of Indies. They are not written all in the same mold. Before I discovered Indies, I had practically stopped reading because when I picked up a book that sounded good, I could never tell if I had read it before or not, especially from authors I've read a lot.


message 19: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Wanjiru wrote: "But there are some among us who think (at least I think they think) that they can throw something together in a week and expect readers to fall all over it - poor formatting, poor structure....What can I say?"

There are a lot less of this type of "author" than anyone will admit. Yes,there are scammers who will load a file with gibberish for the sake of profiting off KU (until they are caught), but equating them with folks who actually write stories is wrong for many reasons, not the least of which is that it perpeuates the myth than indie=inferior.

Someone else above noted that the indie books they read have all been "professionally" edited. The only way anyone could know that is if the author states who their editor was, which is nothing more than another attempt at gatekeeping (seriously, go look at any trad book and tell me where it credits the editor).

Not all books are going to follow a set format. This is true of indie and trad. Making assumptions about indie books without actually reading books by indie authors isn't helping any of us.


message 20: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4283 comments Mod
G... wrote: "Maybe I have been unlucky but the indies' books I have bought over the last few weeks were badly in need of a professional editor. "

I've had to remove a few comments like this today. I was afraid this topic would go down a road like this. Let's try to keep it positive.

And those of you who leave comments like this... I hope your books are perfect.


message 21: by Wanjiru (new)

Wanjiru Warama (wanjiruwarama) | 193 comments I suppose that's why my post is nowhere to be found. But saying some books are not up to snuff is not negative. It's just saying what is.


message 22: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4283 comments Mod
Wanjiru wrote: "I suppose that's why my post is nowhere to be found. But saying some books are not up to snuff is not negative. It's just saying what is."

The reason I was first drawn to Support for Indie Authors was because a few years ago, other groups were hell-bent on trashing Indies for being lousy writers. This was a safe haven. Now it's seeping into this place. We're starting to judge one another's books and stating some are "not up to snuff" as if it is a fact.

There are Indie authors who put out books that are not well written and not well edited. That is true. This group is not the place to bitch about it. We're here to be supportive, not to knock one another down.

It is better to keep our mind on our own work and worry about whether our own books are "up to snuff" than to come here and complain about it.

Currently I am reading The Princess Bride by William Goldman. I have found mistakes. Yes, this book has been around since the 80s. It was made into a feature film. It is traditionally published. It has endured, despite having a few errors in it. I'm still enjoying it, despite the occasional typo or mistake in punctuation.

Anyway. I'm tired of the negative comments and I'm tired of policing this topic.

If you're an Indie author and you expect people to buy your work and you don't buy the work of Indies, you have no reason to pout if you don't get sales. There doesn't seem to be anything else to say on the subject, so I'm closing it.


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