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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Traditional vs. Indie - Does it really matter?

I'm afraid I'm going to find my soap box here for a moment, but I hope you understand.

A conversation I see a bit too much on the web is the one that pits traditional writers against indies. Which one deserves the title of "author"?

An article I read not too long ago stated that too many people are tacking the "author" title onto their names. The article nearly compared (and this was my take on it) including the title of author without being traditionally published was akin to buying a PhD as opposed to earning it.

All I can say is ... really?

I admit, most of the authors I read are traditionally published authors - Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, Nelson DeMille. But this isn't a reflection on my thoughts about indie authors. After all, I'm one of them. And since becoming a published author, I've been blessed to meet many others. They are wonderful, talented people. Authors who I would have never found had I not started this journey. And I've learned a few things.

I'll share these with you.

One - Indies are VERY serious about their craft. The majority of them, myself included, spend countless hours writing, revising, editing, proofing their work. They are not people who type out a certain number of words and click the "publish" button. At least, not most of them. There might be some out there so careless, but honestly, I haven't met one yet.

Two - They are not in the business of cheapening fiction. This is not what they want to do. These people are creative, talented, unique individuals who have a voice, and should you listen, you may be surprised just how beautiful that voice is.

Three - Like traditionally published authors,each indie has a different strength. Think of those traditionally published authors I mentioned. Stephen King - he's fabulous with long descriptions and masters the art of thrilling the reader like few others. Even if you don't like his work, there is no denying the man is a true master of his art. Danielle Steel - she is a master of the love story, taking you on a journey of two people falling in love, and focusing on that love story. Danielle Steel can't write what Stephen King does, and Stephen King can't write what Danielle Steel does. Different strengths. It's the same within the indie community.

Four: Like traditionally published authors, what I like in an indie may not be what you like. And that's okay. As large as an audience Nicholas Sparks has, he is not everyone's cup of tea. Just check out the reviews. Even his blockbusters (thinking The Notebook here) received a wide range of 1 to 5 star reviews. It's the same with indies. Why should it be different?

You know what the real difference is between indies and traditionally published authors is? Indies are out there alone, not only writing (which is a solitary experience anyway), but marketing, networking, connecting without any help whatsoever (unless they have a rich uncle  - I venture to guess most don't). Indies don't have the help of agents, publishing houses or anyone else working hard to get the books out there. No paid advertising, no editor waiting on the sidelines. Every thing the indie does, comes out of their pocket, their time, their efforts. Every single dime spent in effort to get the business side of publishing, they have to spend up front to make the book get to the audience.

That does deserve some respect.

But don't be fooled, because as tides turn, traditional published authors are having to do some of the same things. Marketing is falling into the author's lap, no matter what path they decide to take, unless they are well known. And indies are dominating the Amazon boards. That accounts for a lot, in my humble opinion.

So don't disregard those indies. They are a special group of people, and yes, they very much deserve the title of "author". Not every book may be a bestseller, no, but then, most authors can't lay claim to that. And every author, rather their name is Nora Roberts or, someone around the corner from you, learns to be better with every book they write.

Simply enjoy them all. They deserve the support :)

1 comment:

  1. Great post, RM! I'm published by a small press and couldn't agree with you more. I know authors who have published novels independently that are fabulous! Regardless of the path one takes to publication, it all comes down to hard work and effort.