3 Reasons You Should Give Indie Authors A Chance

Break Your Comfort Zones
Let’s face it, every major book store from coast to coast carries the exact same authors. Stephen King, James Patterson, Anne Rice, George R.R. Martin, etc. Believe it or not, those authors aren’t the only ones writing books! It’s true. Mind blown, right?
Book stores are a lot like Hollywood. They want to spit out dozens of books from their star authors. This doesn’t mean any of them are bad, but it does forcibly limit the reader to these authors. Sure, you can say “there’s a reason why they’re everywhere. It’s because they’re so good.” To which I can reply by saying, “Expand your horizons. You might be surprised by what you find.”

Hidden Gems
There have been some fantastic indie books out there that have really exploded. Still Alice anyone? It’s a bit rare for an indie book to reach such a high status, but that doesn’t mean they all suck just because they aren’t in the Hollywood cookie-cutter organized bookstores. I’ve read some fantastic tales from relatively unknown authors, from steampunk to horror. From science fiction, to murder mysteries. The works of Adam Dreece, J.C. Hart, Lindsay Buroker, or Leigh K. Hunt are good examples of authors I’ve enjoyed reading lately. Ever hear of them? No? Expand your horizons.
Sure, since the introduction of the KDP program, everyone and their grandmother tosses books up on Amazon and puffs out their chests saying “I am an author.” As a reader, just like when you are browsing the shelves at a brick and mortar store, I urge you to read a sample of the book you are considering. See how many books the author has published, too. If you like what you see, give that indie author a shot!

The Stars Are Not Aligned
Don’t go by the number of stars a book has on Amazon. Sure, the company has done a whole lot to limit fake reviews, but that’s not what I’m talking about. When you are browsing at the brick and mortar store, you get to make the decision yourself, without any influence, when it comes to buying a book. You read the first chapter or so, read the author’s bio, and make an educated decision based on your interest alone. Do the same thing on Amazon by disregarding the number of stars a book has (Unless it’s total rating is one star, there’s definitely something wrong).
The reason I say this is because everyone is different, everyone has their own personal opinion, and readers are the harshest of critics. I’ve seen an indie book of short stories get a one star review because the “The book didn’t flow consistently. It was just like a bunch of different stories crammed into one book.” Another indie book, written specifically for young adults, was criticized with one star. The reason? The reader said the book was just fine, but he doesn’t like to read young adult books.
Reviews are very important for the indie author because most people look at the star ratings, and if it isn’t five stars, they’ll skip right over the book.  It’s hard for the indie author to get reviews, too.  They may get one review for every 200 sales.  Why in the world would you as a reader rely solely on how many stars the book has when making your purchasing decision?
Don’t go by the stars on Amazon. You’re smart. You’re intuitive. Decide for yourself what you want to read, and you might be surprised to find a new favorite author.

Do you agree with my list? Did I leave something out? Let me know in the comments!

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6 thoughts on “3 Reasons You Should Give Indie Authors A Chance

  1. I totally agree with your list. I don’t think I have read a commercial author for some time now – I’ve discovered, and love a lot of indie author’s who are breaking into the NYT Best sellers list! And their stuff is good quality. Yes, there are a few badly edited books out there, there always will be, but when you find an indie author you like, you support them! Here’s to Indie Authors *waves whiskey glass* Cheers!

  2. Hi Michael. As a writer and more importantly a reader, I can’t say I agree with your post.

    Naturally there’s nothing wrong with giving indie authors a chance, and I don’t think anyone is truly saying there is, just like no one is saying “Don’t read stories people post on their blogs! Don’t you dare!” The stigma of self-publishing comes simply from the sheer number of low quality self-published books, and doesn’t carry on to works that break that mold. The average reader is not going to check whether your book is traditionally or indie-published. The thought will only cross their mind if they have reason to doubt its quality — an unprofessional cover, bad grammar, bad spelling, typos, etc.

    And the not-so-average reader, the one who is always aware of the danger of disappointment that comes with self-publishing and who will bother checking — yes, you’ll likely lose them, unless they know that even though a particular work of yours is indie-published, you as an author have already passed quality control. Which is to say, if you go hybrid — publish some works traditionally (be it novels published with a traditional publisher, or short fiction published in literary publications), and some independently.

    As for the reasons you lay out, I don’t think they hold.

    Break out of your comfort zone, find hidden gems, expand your horizons — all good things, sure, but why do this with indie-published books of all things? There’s an endless ocean of books out there, countless classics, countless esteemed, promising works. Deciding to check out something other than a commercial fiction bestseller won’t necessarily lead a reader to an indie-published book. You’re not competing with Anne Rice and Stephen King; you’re competing with every author who has ever existed.

    Don’t get hung up on the stars — fair enough, but the average book on Amazon has more than 4 stars. A three, or even two or one star review that criticizes the work honestly and thoroughly will likely result in more sales than a bland, gushing five-star review that sounds as though it was written by the author’s grandmother. I recently went out of my way to order a used copy (no ebook or new copies were available) of a book, in no small part due to a few one and two star reviews declaring it too slow, strange and dark.

    At the end of the day there’s only one reason for a reader to check out an indie-published book, the same as the reason to check out a traditionally-published book — because it looks good enough to read, and great enough to read before most of the other books on their to-read list.

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