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"Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they've all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe" ~ Neil Gaiman (A Game of You)

4.11.2011

Indie Authors' Fatal Flaw

I enjoy discovering new authors, and I love to support indie authors in particular. I applaud their entrepreneurial spirit and admire the courage and hard work that it takes to launch their book into the world.

I recognize that there is a great deal of talent out there. But I have to admit, in reading their works, that I have noticed one major flaw. It isn't that indie authors aren't as good as traditionally published authors. It's that they are not pushed to the limits of their talent.

In traditional publishing, you get the dreaded rewrites. Your agent loves your book, but based on his years of experience, he knows what sells and doesn't sell. He zeroes in on a few weak points – raise the stakes here, too repetitive there, strengthen the voice and arc of your character – and sends it back to you. That process, I believe, stretches an author to her fullest potential.

The final product may or may not be that good, but it is the best the author had to give. When I read a novel by an indie author, especially someone I'm familiar with, I can see spots where they just missed the mark. And it makes me sad, because I know that with just a couple of tweaks, that book could have been amazing.

So, is this indeed a fatal flaw for indie authors? No. It's not fatal at all, as Ms. Amanda Hocking can attest. Most readers are there for the story, and if it's a good story, they are willing to forgive an awful lot. They take it at face value and most likely won't even notice that it could have been better here and there.

But as an author, that's not good enough for me. I want to be pushed to the limits of my talent, I want to be forced to eke out just a little bit more, I want to grow. I want my books to be amazing. I don't want to be the next Amanda Hocking, I want to be the next Kathryn Stockett.

10 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

Me too. I constantly look to see how I can grow and learn in skill and craft when it comes to my writing. I'd love an editor/agent to show me where I can improve. But studying books and crit partners have been a life saver for me.

Sue Jackson said...

You really hit the nail on the head here, Shelli. I've noticed myself the same thing - what's missing in many Indie-published books isn't good writing, it's good editing.

Something to think about!

Sue

Shelli said...

Laura, I agree. I think that with so many authors looking at indie publishing, there's a niche opening up for exactly that service. In the meantime, a good crit group is invaluable.

Sue -- I know, it kills me when I see someone much more talented than some people on the bestsellers lists. Like I said to Laura, I have to think someone is going to step in and fill that need.

Sherri said...

I just commented on this very thing on someone else's blog. I do want to grow and stretch myself as a writer. The idea of querying an agent is intimidating to me however.

Shelli said...

Sherri -- It is scary. Do you follow Query Shark? She's got some great information there. Definitely helpful when you're trying to write the perfect query. Which I haven't tried yet, because I don't have a ready manuscript.

Mercy a.k.a Rogue said...

I agree with what you posted. I will admit I am one of those who have read Amanda Hockings work, and have forgiven the flaws because I see some amazing potential. I have reviewed most of her works and have been fair in detailing what I saw as the good and the bad.
I do understand what you have said though, and I do agree.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

As a poetry writer I think writing novels are much harder, I write poems on the experieneces of my life and family, the publishing side is very difficult but I managed one book and hopefully another towards the end of the year,
I was very impressed by your blog.
Yvonne,.

Angela Felsted said...

So when you say Indie author, you mean self published, right? Not authors who are published by small, independent presses.

Donna Weaver said...

*waves* Hey Shelli! Came over here from your post in Dames.

You're right about the editing. I understand there's a lot of bad stuff out there, and unfortunately it can give everyone who publishes this way a bad rep.

Shelli said...

Mercy -- I read Amanda's first novel out of curiosity. I can see the appeal to it. She's the first to admit that her self-published books could use some editorial help. I think that's part of why she has switched to traditional.

Yvonne, thank you! And congratulations on getting your book published! That's very exciting. I can imagine publishing poetry would be different.

Angela, you caught me. I'm still new to all this and don't know the finer differences. Yes, I'm mainly talking about self-publishing. But I have reviewed some books from small presses, too, and the editing was not as strong.

Donna -- *waves back* Hi! I'm glad you found me! I've been lucky to find some good stuff out there, too. It's kind of like a treasure hunt!