Fiction and Writing

Rant: Indies Don’t Respect Words (apparently).

There’s another post going around on Twitter where a traditionally published author slams indies as being awful. I’m not going to link to it, it has more than enough views as it is. The post itself is generic and unimaginative, which is rather amusing, but not the point.

My point is the final comment that the author made. They said that indies do not respect the written word the way traditionally published authors do. Now I have two problems with this.

First of all, there is this thinking that traditionally published authors and books are somehow purer artists. They produce books of higher artistic value than indies.

I want to know where exactly that thinking comes from. Of course we know it comes from fragile egos and arrogance, but I mean at a baser more logical level. The idea seems to be that if a bunch of gatekeepers, editors and the like, choose a book, it must have more artistic merit.

The thing that’s conveniently forgotten in this little argument is that those people, those gatekeepers, don’t have art in mind when they make that decision. Art doesn’t even come close to factoring into that decision. That decision is made purely on the basis of which books will make the publishing house the highest profit. That’s it.

Do these authors genuinely believe that those huge businesses, with their rather healthy profit margins, are putting out the books with the highest artistic merit? Do they really believe these supposed artistic masterpieces just happen to make these publishing houses a lot money?

That brings me around to my next little issue with this statement: Readers.

At no point during these foolish and petty little articles are readers brought into things. They’re always about how indies don’t respect the written word, how they’re killing off literature, etc etc. What about readers? Books are written for readers. Stories are told with readers in mind.

Without readers these authors in their pretty towers, wouldn’t have anything. Yet, they don’t seem to give a damn about readers. At no point do they discuss what they bring to readers that indies don’t. It’s all about their apparent worship of the written word and literature as an art form.

Screw that. As an indie my readers are at the forefront of my mind. As an author I am here to give readers stories that touch them, that have a positive impact on their life. I’m not here to worship a constructed ideal based around how words are supposed to be strung together. I’m here to give people a sanctuary, an escape, a piece of hope and happiness, even if only for a moment.

I’m not interested in going traditionally published. I don’t want to give up my freedom. If going traditionally published means forgetting about my readers, and bending my art to be something that fits into a box that other people can sell for a nice profit, while worshiping this vague notion of literature and language as a pure thing – then I definitely will not be changing my mind!

If you need me, I’ll be over here creating stories that hopefully help people, and make the world a little brighter.




18 thoughts on “Rant: Indies Don’t Respect Words (apparently).

  1. This is great! At my day job we talk extensively about the word and the right word and the perfectly constructed message. And all day I make up words, I say things that are grammatically incorrect, I gesture and metaphor and pun. And then I say the best communication is the one that works. The best communication is successful communication.

    They still don’t get it and try to talk about how yeah but it’s hard and it has to be perfect and I can be lazy because x.

    But it all comes down to does it work? And who does it work for. The reader!! I don’t care if it works for me or makes me look special or fancy. I care about getting my message across.

    Your message was successful in that I understood it, it resonated, it made me respond. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. If it means anything at all, your stories have definitely brightened my world! Not to mention, they inspired me to take a much needed leap of faith! Some of my favourite books this year were published by indie authors. Including yours 🙂 Never stop writing ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hear! Hear!

    There’s a lot of snobbery out there. But there always has been. Long before the advent of digital publishing the literary establishment were sneering at the “pulp” press, the daily story magazines and the comic strips. The quality of writing and storytelling, and the hard work and generosity of the authors in providing rich and satisfying reading experiences to their readers day after day, in the pulps was second to none. But they were derided by some as “lowering the tone” of publishing.

    However, let’s remember that we’re only talking about some, not all. The empty jar sounds the loudest, right? I know personally several folks – agents and publishers – in the mainstream publishing world who have the highest respect for Indies and their work and understand that IP is now an established and viable entity in the global publishing ecology.

    In any case, your latest release Infernal Ties is sitting happily with a sales rank of about #50,000 which ain’t bad at all and shows that people are picking it up, reading and enjoying it. What else do we need to know?

    Keep at it Holly – you’re making the world a better place. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I had a really fun chat with my new boss about indie publishing and how its reputation has improved dramatically over the last decade. To say independent authors just vomit some words on a page, find a shitty cover, and hit “submit” is generalization at its stupidest. Of course some people are going to do that, but most indies I know spend so much time, energy, and funds on their books to ensure the highest quality possible for their READERS. Not editors, agents, publishing houses — readers. You hit the nail right on the head.

    I think indie and trad publishing go hand-in-hand now. Indie authors get to reshape the wheel, and when that sells well, it let’s publishing houses know you can stray from the norm and still be profitable. This “article” was basically just shitting on indie authors with zero regards or awareness of the modern state of publishing, particularly fiction publishing, but I’m loving the sight of indie authors banding together to support one another. Writing is hard. Publishing as a trad author, a hybrid, or an indie — is. hard. Why do we need to have a go at ANYONE for doing this difficult thing? Guh.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well said, Liz. The most common reason folks get nasty about other folks they don’t know is a sense of insecurity or being threatened.

      And in fact, it is the increasingly high quality of the Indie output and the development of a functional, robust network of authors, cover artists and editors all working with and for each other – and selling their work directly to readers without any recourse to the “establishment” – that leaves some folks in trad pub reactionary and aggressive in their responses.

      They feel threatened. Whether they have cause to feel that way is another discussion, but I’m sure some do feel that.

      I think, as you suggest, the two can cohabit and cross-fertilize happily. It’s like stairs and elevators. The invention of the elevator didn’t put an end to stairs. Some people prefer the stairs, others the elevator. True, before the elevator, we all had to take the stairs. But now we have a choice. That’s all there is to it.


      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think I know the article you’re talking about. I’m featuring it in my Indie News post on Sunday. One of the comments rang true for other forms of art. Do you consider the person who stands on the corner and plays Charlie Parker solos note for note on his alto sax not a musician because he or she doesn’t have a recording contract? There is plenty of traditionally published work that is crap and only exists because some gatekeeper thought it would sell. I’m proud to cut out the middle man and market directly to readers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well said, Holly. I didn’t see said tweet, but it makes me sad that people think this way. Last year I read quite a lot of indie novels, never mind self-publishing my own book baby, and while some of those weren’t very good and lacked editing and other important bits, most of them were brilliant. I also read some traditionally published books which weren’t very good, and one of those was edited terribly. This can easily go either way, but to say that all indies lack respect for our craft is disrespectful and petty.

    Not to mention that some indies never even tried the traditional route because they are perfectly happy doing everything themselves. Not every indie author has been rejected a hundred times. Some of us want the control and freedom it brings.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly. There are thousands of good writers who positively opt for IP as their first choice for many reasons, and there are increasing numbers of trad pubbed authors turning indie. Personally, I’m a hybrid author (some Indie, some trad) – it just depends on the project. It’s all good! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It isn’t about the publishing sistem, I agree. It’s about the project more than anything. I think most of the dispute between trad publishing and indie publishing misses the point.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. We have to do what works for us and our projects. Some are going to do better with the backing of a publisher, others are best indie. Horses for courses and all that 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on Cookie Break and commented:
    This makes me sad. As an indie author myself you could argue that I’m biased, but as a reader I’ve got to say that I’ve read some fantastic indie novels as well as some terrible traditionally published books. The way we choose to publish doesn’t always have everything to do with it. Not all of us had no choice because we’ve been rejected a hundred times and felt this was the only way. Some of us, myself included, like the control and freedom being self-published brings.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Reblogged this on Read A Lot and commented:
    I think this is something a lot of people forget when they’re trying to decide how to publish their books. I know I’ve had a few people surprised by my decision to self-publish and others refuse to read what I write because they believe self-publishing requires no skill or talent.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I so agree with sarinalangerwriter. I too am an indie author and proud of it. I don’t feel I have to justify this to anyone because as you so rightly put it Holly books are written for readers. Writers are writing for readers and we write because we have to!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have to say first of all that I haven’t read the article. But I know the dispute between indie and trad published authors very well. I have my own idea.
    I don’t think trad bup is the best choice. I don’t think indie pub is the best choice either. That’s because I don’t think it’s about the publishing sistem at all.

    It’s about the author.

    A good author will be good whether they self-publish or trad-publish, and a sloppy author will be sloppy whether self or trad-pubbed. This has nothing to do with the route they choose. It’s all about their skills, their ability to tell a story and to create empathy.
    I think an author should know and be able to work in both environments, without prejudices, because every project is different and the same author might choose one or the other way depending on the project… and provided, of course, that said authors have the ability and skills to navigate both environments.

    That’s how I think the future of publishing will be. But I still see a lot of biase on both sides, so I worry that future is still a long way out.

    Liked by 2 people

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