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"Indie Author" does NOT automatically equal "Incompetent Writer."


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Initial post: May 22, 2012 9:50:32 AM PDT
I recently self-published a science-fiction novel, but no one seems to want to give it a chance because I openly admit that I'm an indie author. The amount of indie bashing that goes on bothers me, because I worked very hard to create my book. People assume that because it's been edited by the author, it hasn't been properly edited. This is not true for all indie authors. Some of us spend years perfecting our craft. I went back to school in my 30s in order to hone my writing and editing skills. I took only one creative writing class, and only because the teacher was a published and respected author. The rest of my courses were literaure and language courses. I graduated with a 4.0 and a Master's in English, and I was editor in chief of the university's undergraduate research journal. I think this qualifies me to edit my own work.

People don't understand how difficult it is for new authors to get their work noticed. They complain that we shamelessly self-promote, but we don't have anyone else but ourselves to promote our books. If we don't self-promote, we don't get promoted.

If anyone knows how I can promote my book so that people will read it and leave customer reviews, please let me know. I'm tired of getting bashed for being independent.

By the way, my kindle novel will be free for download Wednesday, May 23rd, if anyone wants to review my editing skills.

The Face of Earth

Posted on May 23, 2012 12:05:03 PM PDT
Hi Kristie- Gratz on publishing your novel. I understand how you feel, but try not to bring ANY KIND of negative attention to yourself. There are too many people out there who have it in for Iindie's, whether deserved, or not. My best advice to you is be patient, make friends and relax. The reviews will come, eventually. I am published but went the Indy route for a while, as well. Most of my reviews have come from me working hard- submitting to review sights, such as the PRG, BittenbyBooks, and CoffeeTime reviews. Also, from people I have met here on the threads.
I have a thread called Linell Jeppsen Hosts the Science Fiction and Fantasy thread...a lot of authors stop by and chat...they also participate in my daily contest (at 4:00 P). The winner of the weekly contest gets a promo wash from me. The only requirement- a positive and friendly attitude!
Don't be bitter or let your frustration show, OK? Most of us feel your pain...we just know, by now, that it takes time, a lot of work, and a great attitude to get anywhere in this business.
As I mentioned, you are welcome to join my thread- meet the excellent authors who hang out there, and follow the learning curve, along with the rest of us! Nel

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 12:13:21 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 23, 2012 12:18:17 PM PDT]

Posted on May 23, 2012 12:14:40 PM PDT
Hi Kirstie:
Be patient and promote your book. Not everyone shares those views. Many do support Indie authors. And I'm one of them -- both an author and reader.

Have downloaded, tagged and liked your book. But you need to add some more tags under the Tag This Product line at the bottom of your book page -- it helps more people discover your book. I will give you a review eventually but right now I am backlogged with reviews and a huge TBR list.

Good luck and here's wishing you thousands of sales. The free promo should help get your book noticed.

James

Posted on May 23, 2012 12:23:05 PM PDT
Hi Kirsty,

congrats on getting your book together. It's a big achievement, and one many will never know.

However, as a fellow writer, I would like to sound a note of caution for you. It is this:

it doesn't matter how good you are, or what your qualifications are: you CANNOT edit your own book. Trust me on this. I've got friends who are professional editors, who hire OTHER professional editors to do it for them. I'm writing my fourth novel now, to a set submission standard by my publisher. I like to think that I'm educated, articulate, and literate. AND I get beta readers now to read the whole thing before the pub. gets it.

Thing you must realise is this: as a writer, you get too close to the work. You've seen the text day in day out for ages, and you stop seeing the errors in it.

This isn't in any way a criticism of you, it's professional advice, one writer to another. No one can proof read/edit their own work. This is why the indie side of the industry gets so much criticism. We all need at least a second pair of eyes to look at the work. Please, if you value your book, have someone else go through it before you publish it.

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 1:14:50 PM PDT
Blue Goddess says:
Will, I was going to say exactly the same thing about editing your own work. Well said, and very true.

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 1:18:26 PM PDT
Ditto to Will's comments. I had two professional journalists edit my books and they caught errors I completely missed. I do edit myself, but an author is too close to his work to catch everything.

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 1:43:48 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 23, 2012 1:44:17 PM PDT
Will, I completely agree with you; I know I miss stuff because I'm too close. That's why I had someone else proofread the final edit. She caught about 20 mistakes and typos. I was more confident with publishing the novel because of her help.

Posted on May 23, 2012 1:51:31 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 23, 2012 1:52:00 PM PDT
Carma Chan says:
I've paid professional proofreaders. It doesn't guarantee anything. I've gone over my work so many times I understand Hemingway's insanity! Nothing makes me crazier than to find yet another overlooked typo or grammatical error after all the proofreading by myself and others.

Here's what I do - first, turn on the Spelling/Grammar tools to maximum security so it highlights every questionable thing as you go. Then, check each highlighted item, then rest, then check it again, then rest, then check it again.

I don't pay anyone to proofread or edit anymore. Nobody did it better than I could.

Posted on May 23, 2012 1:54:20 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 23, 2012 1:54:40 PM PDT
Carma Chan says:
And I don't pay agents and publishers to leech off my creativity. I write. I publish. And I let the chips fall where they may. I don't write for the market. I don't write for trends. I don't care about shoulds and oughts and rules. I have something to say and I'm going to say it the way I choose to say it and nobody can stop me. A writer writes. Vonnegut said he wrote to reach the young minds before they become generals and senators. That's exactly what I'm doing.

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 1:56:23 PM PDT
Carma Chan says:
Kirsty: I caught twice as many errors *after* proofreaders read my final draft. That's the last time I bother parting with my hard-earned money. No one cares more about my reputation than I do.

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 2:10:25 PM PDT
Carma, I feel your pain. After my proofreader checked my work I went over it again. I found 3 more minor typos. But even if they had made it through to the published version, they would have been barely noticeable. I didn't pay my proofreader; she knows that if I do well, she will benefit from my success, because she's my sister. She has 17 degrees and I trust her completely. She also doesn't sugar-coat her comments and tells me straight out when something I write sucks. Every book I write from now on will have to get past her rigorous review.

Posted on May 23, 2012 2:11:54 PM PDT
Kirsty,

carma's approach is still a very popular one amongst the self published authors.

But one i firmly believe is wrong. Yes, carma can find typos, and and the odd grammatical error that way. We should all do that first in any event.

But Word will not tell you when you have a problem with the plot. Word will not tell you that you have messed up your time line. Word will not tell you that a character's responses are inconsistent with something that they did/said two chapters earlier. A proof reader, will, provided you've hired a good one.

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 2:21:18 PM PDT
Will, yes, I've run into that as well. I had a character untie a man from a tree, and then in the next sentence she was looking at the man tied to the tree. Lol, good thing my proofreader caught that one! It would had made me feel foolish if it had been published that way!

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 2:21:26 PM PDT
First of all you must accept the tenet -- the perfect book does not exist. I have yet to find a book that does not have at least one error in it --trad pubbed or self-pubbed. Some trad books are horrendous. One recent hardcover bestseller has more than 50 errors in it and I stopped counting and that's with so-called professional editors and an $18 price tag.

Mind you I have found some free and 99 cent Indie books with appalling errors and misspellings which taint us all. I now use the free sampling before downloading, it is usually a good indicator but not always. Caveat Emptor!

The best we can hope for is to minimize errors and strive for perfection. To err is human though!

Posted on May 23, 2012 2:22:06 PM PDT
Carma Chan says:
You are very lucky to have such a skilled, helpful sister, Kirsty! One of the proofreaders I hired actually represented herself as a professional at the Coppola virtual workshop for screenwriters, and after I submitted a script to an important contest, based on her 'good to go' email, I found an extra word on the first page. I wanted to die. The Nicholl Fellowship contest is only the most important screenplay contest in the world, and an error on the first page is a death sentence. Never again.

Posted on May 23, 2012 2:52:01 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 23, 2012 2:53:01 PM PDT
Kirsty, first up, contrats.

Second, listen to Will. Seriously he is talking sense.

I, too, have self published a novel, two now. I had it professinally copy edited and proof read, I had the cover designed by professionals and it's marketed by someone who used to have a top 100 (in the UK) marketing job. In short, find out what publishers do, treat it as a business and do the same. In some quarters you'll be bashed for daring to publish your own stuff whatever you do but at least this way you know you've done the best you can.

Cheers

MTM

Posted on May 23, 2012 3:11:26 PM PDT
Carma Chan says:
Will,

I am qualified to handle my own editing. I've been trained by a stringent writing coach and I aced Grammar in 8th grade without thinking twice. I hired professional proofreaders because I was tired of reading the story. After the disappointments with their results, I pushed myself to do the final proof because, as I said, I found MANY errors they missed, and no one cares more about my reputation than I do.

Furthermore, I applaud the brave souls out there who dare to express themselves and do not have the means to pay for help or any friends or family who are excellent in language skills or trained storytelling techniques. I do not presume that all readers are as easily put off by improper grammar as most critics, and I think it's wonderful that readers have a choice to read all kinds of literature, even that by uneducated writers.

Posted on May 23, 2012 3:26:34 PM PDT
Carma, we will have to politely agree to differ on this.

I don't propose to go into my qualifications, not least because A) they are Uk and would mean little to US guys, and b) the Uk has changed all the names of the exams since then anyway. Suffice it to say that most would consider me pretty well educated.

But I don't think anyone can properly edit their own work. the act of the creation brings you too close. I edit the hell out of my stuff. The oublishers tell me that I turn in exceptionally clean text. And there are still some errors for the proof readers to find. And I pick up some more on my final pass when I'm adjusting evrything they have found.

I suspect you've just been put off by a couple of poor performers in the field.

Also, I do think that readers are put off by poor spelling and poor grammar. The reviews of the self published books are chock full of such comments. Even MTM who posted earlier has had reviews complaining about her spelling and grammar, merely because she writes in English, not in American...
and those issues do affect self published authors and those of us with indie houses. Look around the fora. What's the biggest complaint? I bought this book, and it was badly spelt/constructed/plotted/written. Yes, some of those criticisms can be levelled at trad published authors. But in percentage terms, we indies far far outdo them

Posted on May 23, 2012 3:46:40 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 23, 2012 3:47:40 PM PDT
Carma Chan says:
Will, we will have to politely call a truce. I would love to have a partner who would do the editing for free, but on my salary I cannot afford to pay for services. I have a son in college and I am his only means of support. Literary critics can have their field day with what I want to say. I write lean and juicy, and accept that my stories or style are not for everyone.

Besides that, I've thumbed through some pretty horrendous professionally edited novels. The last Harry Potter, for starters, which exasperated me on the first page. I do not like it when a writer crams three long sentences into one with dashes and dots. Stephen King is another person I will never read and somehow he's established quite a following. I don't dispute he's a good writer, I simply have no taste for ghost stories and demon-possessed cars and such paranormal fare.

I dragged myself through eight chapters of Lady Chatterly's Lover and didn't care what happened next.

Atlas Shrugged -- a book my brother raved about (but then, he's a lunatic and raves about telephone poles too) -- dreary. Bleck.

So, editors do not make stories have universal appeal. There is no such thing as universal appeal. And I'm sure a hip-hop artist could easily have his or her own small following of readers with urban language that runs roughshod over the rules.

As for typos in print, by professionals, I've seen those too. I overlooked them.

Posted on May 23, 2012 3:50:38 PM PDT
I agree with all the comments except self-editing. This is a rule even for the professional editors, "Don't edit your own work!"

And if there are any errors, a reader will sometimes post it with an embarrassing 1 star review.

Mine was professionally edited and she still missed a couple of things. A reader refused to read anymore of my book because on page three, the Bible verse was wrong, one number was dropped. It said Acts 2:1 and should have been Acts 2:17.

Posted on May 23, 2012 4:05:55 PM PDT
That is one thing I really like about self-publishing. If a reader does find a horrendous error, the author can simply fix it and upload the new version. My novel was originally a novella, but the readers informed me that although they liked the story and the characters, they didn't like how short it was. They wanted more description and more backstory on the characters. Because of their comments I was able to improve and then lengthen the story into a full-length novel. When I read and compare the two, the novel far surpasses the novella version. So I'm thankful for the criticism.

Posted on May 23, 2012 4:24:03 PM PDT
I tend to agree that there is a double standard applied to indie authors. Even though I've read and reviewed the writings of many phenomenal "indies" that rival and sometimes surpass writers whose wares are backed by an arsenal of high-powered publicists, designers, and agents.

If you've ever read popular crime writer James Ellroy's recent fiction, at least, he has created his own style (telegraphic prose) that gets away with using sentence fragments, no connectors, and other grammar no-no's that if used by indies would be cause for crucifixion.

Action/Adventure novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard is another who often skimped on proper grammar and even famously boasted once: "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." He has a degree in English and Philosophy to boot!

Even one of my immediate writing role models, Raymond Chandler, wildly skipped from first, second, and third person in his novels! Yet, his Phillip Marlowe is the prototype P.I.--imitated in style and deed world-wide.

And don't even think about reading Joseph Conrad, if you're a syntax stickler! (lol) Yet, "The Heart of Darkness" is a psychologoical classic that has been imitated ad nausem in literature and cinema.

My point is, many indies--or fledgling writers--read similar "established" writers' stories and so-called styles. And many believe that if guys like Ellroy, Leonard, and Chandler made it big by bending (or blatantly breaking) the rules of what is considered to be "proper grammar"--which by the way vary, from definition to defiinition (take the use of the colon, for example)--then why can't they?

As a part-time fiction writer, I allow myself the right to skimp on proper use of syntax when it comes to dialog. I think Elmore Leonard is right to this degree: When you're trying to convey a sense of reality--or perhaps reader empathy--things work better with dialog that tries to reflect some of the everyday. So, an occasional sentence fragment that is in a story told in the first person seems normal to me as a reader and writer, for example.

So, are indies allowed the same latitude to create and experiment with their own interpretation of what defines the proper use of grammar or when to use it? If not, does it take their becoming a NYT Bestseller to not abide by the rules some readers hold one set of writers to, but not the other?

In reply to an earlier post on May 23, 2012 4:29:34 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 23, 2012 4:30:08 PM PDT
No one doubts that William Faulkner is proficient in basic grammar. When they have exhibited an understanding of the rules of grammar, some brilliant writers are given the opportunity to break them.

The same is not true of a lot (not all) of indies. Their work makes it apparent that it's not that they understand the rules of grammar, but are breaking them for style, but that they neither know, nor care, how to put together a coherent sentence/paragraph/page/plot/novel.

Posted on May 23, 2012 4:36:31 PM PDT
Ixtila says:
This is such a contentious issue and I'm glad to see it being discussed civilly here. I'd like to try to address both sides if I may.

James and Will: You are right in that MOST authors cannot edit their own work. I completely believe that most authors are too close to their work and need other eyes to find those inconsistencies that the author will miss.

Kirsty and Carma: You too are right in that SOME authors are perfectly capable of editing their own work, and I applaud you for standing up for your right to do so.

The problem here as I see it is that we are trying to lump all writers into one category and not allowing for the fact that some writers have a larger skill set and are able to do their own design work and even editing. All writers are different. We all know that. It should not matter who did the editing as long as it is done well, and the proof is in the final product. Editing is something we learn and it is a sad truth that many people selling themselves as editors are NOT good at it. Instead of saying you must not edit your own work, we should be saying well done for having a skill that most of us do not have.
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Discussion in:  Meet Our Authors forum
Participants:  23
Total posts:  71
Initial post:  May 22, 2012
Latest post:  May 27, 2012

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