Believe it or not, the indie publishing world is full of scammers. From editors who pad their resumes to cover artists who don’t understand licensing fees for artwork. However, even indie authors can be scammers.
Earlier this week, I blogged prolifically about a book I was asked to beta read. I thought it needed some serious work and was told, flat out, to go to Hell, the book was perfect and I was just being a bitch. When an author takes this stand-point, it isn’t just about not being able to handle a critique, it’s about all the people who are going to give the author money for that book.
As indies, I believe we must hold ourselves to a high standard. Not everyone is going to love every book that an author writes, that’s just illogical, but we should try to put out the best books we can.
When a writer fails to do the work to make their book the best that it can be, they are ripping off readers. That is just flat out lazy, shitty writing.
The reason I hated the cop/rape victim book that I have panned in previous posts, was because it was lazy. They needed more chapters and decided to make the characters have unrealistic sex so the killer could escape and the book could continue. I felt defrauded as a reader. The writer could not be bothered to think of a more reasonable and logical plot twist to let the killer escape. I would have accepted a flat tire, a car accident, an engine meltdown, or a funeral procession over them stopping to have sex.
When an author puts out a book like that, it hurts all indies. Eventually, people begin to think all indies are hacks who are just trying to make a quick buck off publishing crappy novels. In reality, most indies are hard working authors who pour their souls into their books and secretly cry over bad reviews.
As writers, we want to desperately believe that these lazy shitty books will disappear on their own, but they won’t because:
- Reviews will go up that pan the book, but it will also have good reviews and like all books, the reviews really won’t help a reader decide whether it’s a good book or not. Also, people don’t really enjoy leaving bad reviews. I’m far more likely to review something I loved than something I hated, which skews the star rating and makes it unreliable in a lot of ways. (This is one of the reasons, I have basically stopped reviewing books)
- Believe it or not, advertising an indie book is really easy and if you stick to the big ones, you can get a lot of readers to buy your lazy shitty novel, which convinces others to buy it and yes, it’s a cycle. Which is how I got the lazy shitty novel, I’m a reader and subscribe to several email lists. Every so often, I get a book at a discount or free and think “Holy Hell, this book might have to make the ten worst list because it does absolutely everything that a book should not do.”
- There is a reader for everything… seriously, there is a reader for every book. Meaning at least a handful of people actually loved the book that I hated with a passion because the author didn’t put in the effort to make it a good book. They will recommend it to others.
- Negative reviews sell books. As strange as that sounds, when an intelligent negative review is written, people buy the book to see if it is really that bad. When it is, they then bask in the glory of having bought the shitty lazy book and reading it as if it was a badge of honor. Recently, someone I know was talking to me about a book and I mentioned that I hated it. So they went and bought it to figure out if it was really a bad book or if I was just biased because it had sex in it (I’m going to clear up my stance on romance and erotica tomorrow). Next time I saw them, they were like “Yep, that book really sucked, I can’t believe I wasted money on it.”
So the lazy shitty books stay around and the rest of us pay for it when readers, who have had their fill of these books, decide all indies suck. And I’ve had a lot of people say that to me. I have spent enormous amounts of time explaining why I’m an indie and trying to change people’s opinions. Most of the time, I recommend books by other indies that I have loved and think they might like and because recommending my own books is awkward and weird (also, for some reason, the only thing on this planet that makes me blush is when someone tells me they want to read my book, when someone tells me they liked my book, or when I have to tell someone that I write books for a living… I’m not embarrassed by it in the sense that I find it embarrassing to be a writer, but I find it embarrassing to be a writer people read and like. It isn’t logical, I know, but there’s nothing I can do about it, that might have to be another blog post).
In short, while we complain about fraudulent editors that can’t do the job and cover artists that didn’t buy the correct rights to the images and book tour companies that claim they would love to tour our book, take our money, and then do nothing, we ignore the lazy writers that give all of us a bad reputation. We need to stop ignoring them because they are defrauding not us, but our readers, the ones that we hope will pay us to sit on the couch, in our pajamas, and write more books. We can only do this because readers are still willing to pay for our books, so when someone gets into the “all indies suck” stage, we are all losing out.
* On a side note, this is why I hate Tortured Dreams. I thought I put my heart and soul into it, but it’s actually a lazy, shitty book that is not what it is intended to be – it was supposed to be cerebral psychological thriller and it’s just redundant rambling with Aislinn bossing everyone around and a serial killer that has no dimension and a cult that seems to exist as cardboard cutouts. I could have done better. I should have done better. I didn’t and I regret it every day.