Saturday, May 25, 2013

Indie Publishers Lazy?

I've heard a lot of talk recently about Indie authors who publish their own work. Many legitimate criticisms can be leveled about quality of work sometimes for some writers. However, the same can be said for some small traditional publishers and even some bigger publishers at times. I know I just finished reading a book by a fairly well known author published by a major company which was badly formatted for Kindle with pages jumping in the middle of a sentence and frequent spell check errors (you know where spell check inserts the word it thinks is right, but obviously isn't). Additionally, the prose could have been tightened a lot.
However, no one mentions those things with traditionally published work, just self published materials.

Anyway, in both worlds there can be poor workmanship involved. However, one of the criticisms that is not valid is that of indie authors being "lazy." The indie author takes on multiple times the work a traditional author does with each book published.

Consider this, the indie author has to be writer, editor, cover artist, tech lackey, and marketing executive all rolled into one. Even if they outsource these jobs, they must supervise and make final decisions about each, not to mention hours spent researching those professionals and additional hours keeping them on task.

Let's just look at the jobs an indie writer must do:


As a traditionally published author, I edited my manuscripts carefully, but never as completely as I do as an indie author. If I missed something, well, there were the content editor and the line editor to catch what I missed. (And then they missed some as well). As an indie writer, even if I hire an editor, I need to send them a nearly pristine manuscript, or I'll be spending thousands of dollars in the hours they spend working on my writing. And, honestly, I can't afford editing for a shorter work, so all that falls on me and my beta readers.

Cover Artist

It may sound odd, but I consider this to be more important to sales than perfect editing. Why? Because people who are considering purchasing your book see the cover, but they don't see your editing until after making a purchase. This doesn't mean you skimp on editing. If your book is terribly edited, then you may lose repeat sales or get bad reviews, but they won't make the purchase in the first place if they don't click through to your book. They won't click through to your book unless you have a compelling or at least professional looking cover design.

Fortunately, there are plenty of tools that can help you create professional looking covers available for free. GIMP is an image manipulation program like Photoshop you can download for free. Pixlr has a Photoshop like photo editor online. However, a good cover illustration can cost some money. Personally, I use iStockphoto. Many times I can find a picture just by running a few keywords that describe my book. Sometimes the only modification I have to make is to size it, crop it and add my title and name.

Of course, I have some professional graphic arts experience and training, and other writers hire people to do their covers. This may sound easy, but usually it means researching who might actually be able to do a decent cover and then preparing instructions about what you want on that cover. You will probably spend as much time supervising as it would take to do it yourself.

Layout Specialist

If you are writing and publishing ebooks, you will need to format everything correctly or you will end up with a design that won't scale up or down with the different ereader configurations. Just taking a PDF that was made for a print design and converting it to .mobi (Kindle) or .epub (Nook) format isn't enough.

You need to reformat just about everything. Even bulleted lists, charts, graphs and tables, if not handled properly can end up looking like gibberish on some readers. You can't leave that technical stuff up to the publisher, because you are the publisher.

This isn't hard to learn. I can teach anyone to format a book for Kindle in an hour or two, but it is time consuming work.

And don't even get me started about the work involved in formatting a print on demand book. I've done it for clients, and it takes many hours more than an ebook. Again, it can be learned, but it is hard work.

Publicity Department

Admittedly, even as a traditional author, I had to handle a lot of the marketing for my books. However, now I have to handle it all from writing the copy for the Amazon sales page to contacting reviewers to working the social media. It's all my job. Fortunately, I spent a lot of my younger years as a marketing specialist and while the venues have changed, the basic principles have not.

Again, this type of marketing doesn't have to be complicated, but it takes time and effort. It isn't rocket science to email a blogger who reviews books like yours to ask them if they want to receive a copy of your book, but that's time consuming.

Indie authors are sometimes incompetent, sometimes inexperienced, sometimes sloppy, but one thing they are not, one thing they cannot be is lazy. Click here to tweet this.


  1. Great post, Terri! And so true. I certainly don't have time to be lazy, or bored! LOL

    1. Yes, no one doing this job is doing it because it is easy. Writing in the first place is hard work. But when you take off your writer's hat and put on your publisher's, editor's, graphic artist's and publicist's hats it's four times harder.