Serious writers who’ve been in this business for any length of time quickly learn that most folks don’t respect the hard work that goes into our craft. Those non-writers who do respect the craft are usually avid, serious readers, though I know a few non-readers who respect it, too (but not many). At least, this has been my experience. Sadly, such serious readers are in the minority these days.
Although I’m an indie author, which I love, I’ve also been published traditionally. Hey, I started back in the early 1980s before desktop and laptop computers. One of the downsides of indie books, though, is that anyone can publish a book now. Good for us professional writers, sure, but bad for the indie industry as a whole, I think.
Why do I say this? Because these days, since anyone can write and publish a book, too many people write them who shouldn’t. Why not? Because they don’t understand writing basics, nor have they bothered to study the craft, nor have they worked to improve. Lots of indie books appear thrown together without any revision, little or no research, and scant attention paid to plot, characterization, and similar things. An unpolished indie book reflects poorly on the indie industry as a whole. Therefore, just because a person can have their book published doesn’t mean they should. That being said, if a person invests the necessary time to practice and study the craft…then definitely, going indie is great.
And this brings me back to what I said in my first paragraph. Oftentimes, when people hear that a friend has had an indie book published, the word “poorly written” comes to their minds. Why? Because they’ve purchased a poorly written indie book in the past. Thus, even though a person may be a serious reader, if he/she isn’t familiar with our work, it may get passed over for a more familiar author. The potential reader automatically assumes we wrote an amateurish book.
As professional indie authors, then, we need to write at the very top of our game. We need to promote our books at the top of our game as well. Approach our writing with a professional attitude, work like a professional writer, and we’ll reap numerous benefits in return.
I know this sounds strange, but it’s something I learned at a writers conference when I started out in the ‘80s—I dress professionally when I enter my writing office. I find that I’m more productive when I’m wearing a nice shirt and trousers (sometimes even a tie and/or blazer) than I am when I wear a beat-up polo shirt and jeans. Writing is a profession, and it’s a calling. Ignore what others may think and say. Be professional in all things pertaining to writing. It pays off in the end!